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HIV incidence is falling in English gay men, say Public Health England
Roger Pebody, 2017-11-15 12:00:00

While several recent reports have shown that new HIV diagnoses have been falling in UK gay men, what really matters is the actual number of new HIV infections, regardless of whether people are diagnosed or not. This is HIV incidence and Public Health England said today that, according to their current estimates, incidence among gay and bisexual men in England has been falling since 2012. In previous years, Public Health England (PHE) has always believed that incidence was stable.

As HIV incidence includes new infections that have not yet been diagnosed, it is inherently difficult to estimate. The method PHE use is based on the CD4 counts of men diagnosed with HIV – for example, a man diagnosed with HIV at a CD4 count of 400 is likely to have acquired HIV about four years ago. So new diagnosis data collected this year helps refine the estimates of incidence in previous years.  

According to the new estimates, infections in gay and bisexual men have been steadily falling for five years: 2,800 infections in 2012, 2,100 infections in 2014 and 1,700 infections in 2016.

The figures appear in Public Health England’s annual surveillance report, issued today. While most of the key findings have already been reported by Aidsmap in the last few months (here, here, here and here), some interesting extra details are provided. And there is a great deal of new data on HIV testing, covered in another article.