The decline comes after a nationwide campaign for HIV prevention, which included more HIV testing, condom provision and the use of HIV prevention treatments like pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and antiretroviral treatment (ART).
PrEP involves the use of daily pills — usually antiretroviral drugs — to reduce the risk of contracting HIV through sex. The treatment is up to 90% effective, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Public Health Minister Jo Churchill said she was “delighted” by the new numbers. “This decline in diagnoses is a result of our unwavering commitment to prevention which has led to more people getting tested, and has allowed people with HIV to benefit from effective treatment, stopping the virus from spreading further,” she said in the press release.
“However, I am not complacent and remain dedicated to ensuring we reach our target of zero new HIV transmissions by 2030.”
However despite these successes, almost half of people diagnosed with HIV in the UK in 2018 were at a late stage of infection — making them 10 times more likely to die within a year compared to patients diagnosed early.
About 37 million people are living with HIV and AIDs worldwide, according to UNAIDS, with almost a million AIDS-related deaths each year.
Some other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) aren’t seeing the same advances. Last year saw a 5% increase in STI diagnoses compared to 2017, led by gonorrhea at 26% due to the rise of a extensively drug-resistant strain.