NHS England is aiming to have no new HIV infections in the country by 2030. Should they achieve this, the organisation would become the first healthcare system in the world to reach zero new cases of the virus since its emergence.
The goal comes after the NHS signed a series of deals that ensure new medicines will be available all across the country, aiding the prevention of regional disparities, which has been a notable issue to date. In 2021, the National AIDS Trust warned that there were “significant inequalities” in access to HIV care in England, particularly for those outside London and for people of colour.
Around 148,000 people will benefit from the availability of these new treatments, which include injectable forms of cabotegravir and rilpivirine, as well as fostemsavir, a medication that was approved just last week. The effectiveness of these drugs means that HIV-positive people who are on effective treatment have a viral load so low that they cannot pass the infection on to other parties.
“We now have a genuine chance of achieving no new HIV infections, thanks to the unparalleled efforts of NHS staff and our ability to get effective drugs into the hands of the people who stand to benefit,” said Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England’s National Medical Director.
“This new, national agreement for HIV drugs, along with better testing, diagnosis and support are spearheading the NHS’s fight against the virus by giving more people the treatment they need to stop the spread,” he added.
Four decades ago, the first cases of HIV were diagnosed in England, but thanks to the efforts of NHS colleagues, we are on course to become the first country in the world to stop new cases of HIV before 2030.
— NHS England (@NHSEngland) October 23, 2022
Last year, the number of new HIV cases in England fell to 2,955, and from between 2014 and 2019 the amount of transmissions dropped by 34%. This has been put down largely to improvements in medicines, particularly in London which is home to about a third of the country’s HIV-positive people.
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