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Thanks, PrEP! HIV Cases in U.K. Gay Men Plunge by 21 Percent


Research shows that for the first time in decades, HIV diagnoses fell for gay and bi men — in part thanks to preventative medication.

Gay and bisexual men have a reason to feel merrier in the United Kingdom.

HIV diagnoses in this group fell by 21 percent from 2015 (3,570 cases) to 2016 (2,810 cases). In London, the numbers were even better — a 29 percent decline in the past year.

Public Health England, which tracked the numbers, called it the "most exciting development in the UK HIV epidemic in 20 years," reports the Daily Mail.

In fact, according to PHE's Dr. Valerie Delpech, "It is the first time since the beginning of the HIV epidemic in the 1980s that we have observed a decline in new HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men."

Researchers point to pre-exposure prophylaxis — a daily dose of medication that has a success rate of up to 99 percent in preventing HIV — as a likely reason for this plunge.

Truvada, the only drug approved for use as PrEP, can be costly. But NHS England, which oversees the budgeting of the country's Department of Health, began funding the use of Truvada as PrEP last August, after a ruling from England's High Court mandated that it do so.

Other factors for the decline in HIV diagnoses include an overall increase in sexually transmitted infection testing among gay and bisexual men in clinics as well as more treatment for HIV-positive people.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently confirmed that there is "effectively no risk" of sexually transmitting HIV when a person is on treatment and the virus is suppressed. The success of treatment as prevention, or TasP, is being promoted through AIDS organizations with the campaign Undetectable=Untransmittable.

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