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HIV transmissions fall by 71%

A new report has revealed that among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, the prevalence of HIV transmission has fallen by a staggering 71%.

The number has fallen from an estimated 2,800 transmissions in 2012 to 800 in 2018, and the number of gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men living undiagnosed with HIV has halved since 2014 from an estimated 7,000 to 3,600 in 2018.

The study, published by Public Health England (PHE), shows that the country is successfully headed towards its goal of eliminating HIV transmission by 2030, a goal that depends upon sustaining prevention efforts and further expanding them to reach all at risk.

Matt Hancock, health secretary has commented that he feels “very strongly” that HIV transmissions must be ended, saying it’s “encouraging to see transmissions continue to fall across the UK”

He continued, “We are well on our way towards our ambition of zero HIV transmissions by 2030, and we should be rightly proud of the incredible progress we have already made.”

Last year, ViiV Healthcare announced that cabotegravir, an investigational, long-acting, injectable HIV-treatment regimen, garnered positive study results in a late-stage trial.

The ATLAS-2M study met its primary endpoint, showing similar efficacy of cabotegravir and Janssen’s Edurant (rilpivirine) administered every eight weeks compared to four-week administration.

The the global specialist HIV company also submitted a regulatory application to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in July 2019, based on the global ATLAS and FLAIR (First Long-Acting Injectable Regimen) pivotal phase III studies, which found that the investigative combo, injected monthly, was as effective as a daily, oral, three-drug regimen in maintaining viral suppression throughout the 48-week study period.

Earlier this month, ViiV also submitted a marketing authorisation application (MAA) to the EMA, seeking approval of fostemsavir in combination with other antiretrovirals for HIV.

In addition to the submission, the EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has granted an accelerated assessment for the fostemsavir MAA, which will be awarded if the CHMP determines the product is of major interest for public health and therapeutic innovation.

HIV testing has greatly increased over the past decade. In 2018, however, an estimated 7,500 people were living with HIV and were unaware of this, and two in five of those diagnosed in 2018 were diagnosed at a late stage. Late stage infections have more than a ten-fold increased risk of death in the year following diagnosis compared to those who are diagnosed early and begin treatment immediately.

PHE reminds the public that getting tested for HIV has never been easier, with free tests available through sexual health clinics, GP surgeries, as well as through a self-sampling service or by using a self-testing kit.