Latest HIV figures: Increase in positive gay,bisexual & other MSM

Published: 27 November 2015 Tags: PrEP, HIV, diagnosis, LGBT By John Walding

There are 1 in 20 gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men (MSM) now living with HIV according to the latest report by Public Health England about HIV in the UK

In 2014 there were an estimated 103,700 people living with HIV in the UK, including 18,100 people who are not yet diagnosed.

The overall HIV prevalence in the UK in 2014 was 1.9 per 1,000 people aged 15 and over.

In 2014 there were 45,000 men who have sex with men living with HIV in the UK, an estimated 1 in 20 MSM. This figure has increased from 43,000 MSM in 2013.

Undiagnosed HIV

Estimates of the number of MSM living with undiagnosed HIV have decreased from 8,500 in 2010 to 6,500 in 2014.However while there is evidence that the prevalence of undiagnosed HIV in MSM has declined since 2010, there is no evidence that this decline continued between 2013 and 2014.

The report states that ongoing high rates of HIV transmission and acquisition among men who have sex with men (MSM) emphasise the need for high impact, appropriately tailored combination prevention strategies and programmes.

Despite high and increasing rates of HIV testing by gay, bisexual and other MSM and high levels of effective antiretroviral therapy treatment coverage for those diagnosed positive, there remains evidence of ongoing HIV transmission among our community.

It is important that there are a range of effective prevention interventions such as condom use to help reduce infections, in addition to addressing the wider determinants of poor sexual health among MSM which are closely linked to HIV infection.

As well as poor sexual health many MSM shoulder disproportionate ill-health including mental health, higher suicide rates and use of alcohol, drugs and tobacco.

Rob Cookson, Deputy Chief Executive of LGBT Foundation says:

“It’s clear that every year these figures are published we say that more needs to be done and again, it is true that much more needs to be done to increase the opportunities we have for increasing HIV testing and preventing the transmission of HIV in our communities.We need to be working to a position where less people are acquiring HIV, less people are being diagnosed late and less people are dying because of their HIV status or related conditions.To do this we need more investment in prevention and testing services and more focus on support services for those already living with HIV.We should also never forget the high levels of stigma faced by many people living with HIV. The spotlight needs to be kept on HIV, not just on World Aids Day but every day."

Increase in HIV Testing - More gay, bisexual and other MSM are testing for HIV in a variety of settings. Innovations in both HIV self-sampling and self-testing play a critical part of reducing late HIV diagnosis. LGBT Foundation are working in partnership with BHA for Equality ,Salford City Council, Manchester City Council, our local Public Health England team, Greater Manchester Commissioners and Bridgewater Community Healthcare Trust to launch a community based Point of Care Testing service in the New Year. As a result of this 1,000 more people will be tested within local community settings and will know their HIV status. This project is funded by Public Health England. To read about Talk & Test -community based point of care testing aimed at gay, bisexual and MSM and African communities see here

HIV Prevention - As well as regular use of condom schemes such as LGBT Foundation’s Safer Sex Packs for MSM, LGBT Foundation are working with partners to highlight the need for PrEP ( the use of anti-HIV medication that keeps HIV negative people from becoming infected) to be made available immediately to those at the highest risk of acquiring HIV in our communities.Information on how PrEP effectively prevents HIV can be found here

Further information

To read ‘HIV in the UK – Situation Report 2015’ go here

To read about health inequalities faced by gay, bisexual MSM go here