World Aids Day: Take free drug plea amid fears of HIV rise in London


IV infections in London may be on the rise after years of successive decline, experts warned on Wednesday.

They raised concern at the number of diagnoses in young gay men, including those who contract the virus soon after moving to the capital.

Europe’s biggest sexual health clinic, 56 Dean Street, in Soho, said that of those who tested positive in the first half of this year, 40 per cent had recently been infected — up from 37 per cent in 2020.

It hopes publicity around World Aids Day on Wednesday encourages people at risk of HIV, whose sex lives are “returning to normal” after the pandemic, to take the free “wonder drug” PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) to keep themselves safe.

Dr Alan McOwan, service director at 56 Dean Street, said: “We’re seeing a pattern of young gay men moving to London who then catch HIV in the first few months. By the time we see them, it’s too late. That’s why ‘PrEP Awareness Week’ is so important.

“We need to get the message to everyone that PrEP is a safe and effective way to protect yourself from HIV.”

The number of HIV diagnoses at 56 Dean Street fell by a quarter after the introduction of Covid restrictions in March last year. But this was not mirrored in a reduction in cases in the youngest age group — 21 and under.

About one in three in this age group who tested positive had caught HIV in the preceding six months, despite PrEP being freely available from NHS sexual health clinics in England since October last year.

There is no age restriction on accessing PrEP, a tablet containing two antiretroviral drugs, but younger men are thought to be less aware of how to access it. PrEP is taken as a daily pill and offers about 99 per cent protection against HIV.

A study found that men who had sex with men were 70 per cent less likely to have a new sexual partner and 50 per cent less likely to have sex without a condom during lockdown.

Source link

Leave a Reply