42% drop in new HIV diagnoses at 56 Dean Street in just 12 months
05 January 2017
Latest figures released by clinicians at 56 Dean Street show that 393 new diagnoses of HIV were made between January and December 2016, compared to 679 during the same period in 2015. This reduction may be significant as 56 Dean Street carried out a comparable number of HIV tests and hasn’t seen a reduced prevalence of other STIs. The Soho clinic operated by Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust accounts for one in nine of every new HIV diagnosis in the UK. In London, it accounts for one in two of every new HIV diagnosis made in gay men.
The clinic has adapted the successful public health initiative Getting to Zero in San Francisco, with an aim to have zero new infections, zero deaths due to HIV/AIDS, and zero stigma for people living with HIV. Clinicians at 56 Dean Street believe that the figures show a reduction thanks to identifying and better engaging with high risk groups, reducing undiagnosed HIV and expanding access to both PEP and PrEP, as the UK’s biggest recruiter to the PROUD study and the only NHS sexual health clinic facilitating the provision of Truvada at cost price.
Dr Alan McOwan (Lead Clinician at 56 Dean Street) said: “We were determined that 2016 would be the year that London learned from San Francisco’s success. This drop in new HIV diagnoses, if confirmed, would be really significant as the clinic is a major contributor to HIV diagnosis in the UK. Reports from other London clinics suggest this could be regional thanks to better HIV awareness, frequent testing, early treatment and use of prevention methods such as PEP and PrEP in key populations.
“For those that do acquire HIV it’s vital that we diagnose and treat them at the earliest opportunity to improve their health, as late diagnosis can cause significant and avoidable health complications, as well as to prevent further transmission to their sexual partners. People who have recently caught HIV are most infectious to others. That’s why we’ve really concentrated on diagnosing people early and offering them treatment. The RITA blood test detects people who have caught their HIV in the last 4 months. We’re delighted that our clinic’s results show our early diagnosis rate is well above the national average. We’ve also concentrated on offering treatment to reduce infectivity to others. In the last 6 months, 76% of our clients started HIV treatment at their first appointment.
“We are really encouraged by the fact that the number of people we’re having to tell they are HIV positive has dropped so much and we hope this supports our aim to reduce numbers of HIV-related deaths. We will continue to champion the voices of our clients living with HIV so that we can continue to reduce the stigma associated with what is now a long-term condition, rather than what was a terminal diagnosis only 30 years ago.”