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Largest ever recorded drop in new HIV diagnoses reported by Europe’s biggest sexual health clinic

01 December 2017

An 80% fall in new diagnoses of HIV has been reported by Europe’s biggest sexual health clinic, 56 Dean Street.

An 80% fall in new diagnoses of HIV has been reported by Europe’s biggest sexual health clinic, 56 Dean Street. The figures released today, to mark World AIDS Day, show a drastic drop from a peak in June 2015. The Soho clinic operated by Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust sees more than 12,000 sexual health attendances per month, and accounts for one in nine of every new HIV diagnosis in the UK and one in two of gay men in London. 

The decrease in new diagnoses has been helped by the launch of the clinic’s ‘Plan ZERO’.  Its aim is to end all new cases of HIV in London’s gay men by motivating them to use the latest tools that have been proven to stop transmission. People with HIV who are on effective treatment cannot pass the infection to others, so the clinic concentrates on diagnosing people very early and then offering them treatment to bring their virus to undetectable levels. The service diagnoses more people who have caught HIV in the last 4 months than any other clinic in the UK.

One of the latest HIV medicines being trialled at 56 Dean Street is pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). If the medicine is taken before sex, it protects people from catching HIV, and can help drastically reduce the number of people becoming infected.  

Dr Alan McOwan, lead clinician at the clinic, said: “Combined with condoms, these new prevention methods mean that we finally have the tools to beat HIV. The dramatic falls in new diagnoses show that if we attack HIV from all angles we could end transmission completely.”

Dr Nneka Nwokolo, consultant at the clinic, said: “The reduction in new diagnoses has been predominantly in gay men and it is crucial that other groups at risk including women, those from ethnic minorities and transgender groups are made aware of PrEP and other prevention measures.”

56 Dean Street will be marking World AIDS Day on Friday 1 December with a World AIDS Day testing event at G-A-Y Bar, 30 Old Compton Street, Soho, London, W1D 4UR from 12 noon–8pm.  

Leigh Chislett, clinic manager at 56 Dean Street, said: “The most important first step is for people to test for HIV. This year is our 7th World AIDS day testing event in G-A-Y Bar, and we’ll be promoting the new options available to prevent HIV through ‘Plan ZERO’.”

In 2011 the event set the first Guinness World Record for HIV testing 467 people for HIV in a single venue on one day. 

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