Preliminary data, press-released by Public Health England (PHE) on 4 September (ahead of the full report due in December), show that HIV diagnoses dropped by 17% in 2017 compared to 2016.
The accompanying press release notes that this is the second year that overall diagnoses have fallen by such a significant amount, although this is technically the third year of reductions.
Crucially, the latest data show a consistent trend for lower numbers of HIV diagnoses across all demographics, and for many group these have continued for two or three years.
In the last years, figures have reduced for all major risk groups, including gay men, heterosexual men and women, and people who inject drugs. With few exceptions, this trend is also seen across all age groups, for all ethnicities and in all geographic regions of the UK.
Overall, HIV diagnoses fell by 17% last year and by 13% the year before, with 4363 people diagnosed during 2017 compared to 6043 in 2015.
These results are remarkable for being the first time that HIV incidence dropped so significantly, highlighting the lack of impact of HIV prevention campaigns for the previous 15 years since 2000.
The report particularly highlights the reductions in gay men as being a drive behind the size of the reductions. From 2008 to 2014 diagnoses in gay and bisexual men had been increasing every year. Since 2015, diagnoses in London clinics dropped by 44% and outside London by 28%.
As with last years reductions, although driven by the drop in gay and bisexual men in London, it is notable that similar percentage drops occurred across the UK, and in other risk groups.
The changes since 2015 are likely to reflect multifactorial changes in HIV treatment and prevention.
Read the full article by Simon Collins from HIV i-Base here.