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Tower Hamlets has lowest late HIV diagnoses in England


Tower Hamlets has the lowest late HIV diagnosis rate in the country, according to the latest figures published by Public Health England.

The council is once again supporting this year’s Do It London campaign, a London-wide initiative that aims to encourage people to get tested regularly and raise awareness of HIV prevention, including using condoms.

Since the campaign began in 2015, Tower Hamlets has also seen the total number of new diagnoses of HIV fall by 50 per cent.

Late diagnosis means that people are not able to benefit from treatment at the start of their HIV infection. Diagnosing HIV and starting treatment early will lead to a near normal life expectancy. Effective HIV treatment will also mean that someone is U=U (Undetectable=Untransmittable), where once the virus is undetectable and a person remains on effective treatment then it cannot be passed on to another person.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said: “HIV treatment has come on in leaps and bounds over the last few years. It’s fantastic news that Tower Hamlets has seen one of the largest decreases in new HIV infections in London and that people are getting diagnosed early. There is still more work to be done, especially in tackling the stigma associated with HIV, but by working alongside other London councils as part of the Do It London campaign, we hope we can continue to reduce HIV in the capital.”

Fewer than 1 in 5 (19 per cent) HIV diagnoses in Tower Hamlets are classed as late, compared to 43 per cent in England. The council, local NHS and charity Positive East have been working together to increase access to free and confidential HIV tests across the borough. In 2018/19, there were over 30,000 HIV tests taken by Tower Hamlets residents.

Councillor Amina Ali, Lead Member for Adults, Health and Wellbeing, said: “Providing easy access to testing is key to reducing the number of people diagnosed late with HIV. Sadly, people who are diagnosed late are ten times more likely to die as a result of HIV compared to those who are diagnosed early. If people in Tower Hamlets continue to make safer sex choices, use PrEP and are tested regularly then we will continue to move ever closer to achieving zero new HIV infections.”

This year, the organisers of the latest Do It London campaign say the capital can achieve zero new HIV infections if Londoners keep making safer choices.

The campaign, part of the London HIV Prevention Programme, is particularly significant for its London-wide approach to tackling HIV, with collaboration and joint funding from London boroughs, including Tower Hamlets.

Since Do It London began in 2015, there has been a 37 per cent reduction in new HIV diagnoses in the capital. The campaign promotes the many ways there are to prevent HIV, including through the ‘combination prevention’ approach, based on robust scientific evidence:

Increased and more frequent testing for HIV

HIV treatment leading to an undetectable vial load (Undetectable = Untransmittable)

Access to, and uptake of, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)

Condom use