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HIV rates drop for first time

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Diagnoses dropped by 32% from 2015 to 2016 Diagnoses dropped by 32% from October 2015 to 2016

The number of gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV has fallen for the first time since the epidemic began, according to data from Eurosurveillance.

Diagnoses dropped by 32% in the 12 months starting from October 2015, compared with figures from the previous year, data from the medical journal revealed.

READ MORE: Syphilis spike and gay men at hepatitis risk in latest STI figures

Public Health England head of HIV surveillance Dr Valerie Delpech said: ‘The large fall in HIV diagnoses in gay men observed over the past year in parts of the country is fantastic news as it shows combination prevention works.’

The figures were observed at five of the biggest sexual health clinics in London, but the hope is that the preventative approach used in the city coupled with more frequent testing could be used to similar effect in other cities across Western Europe.

READ MORE: 'Complex' NHS system stalling progress on HIV treatment for ageing patients

Jason Warriner, chair of the Royal College of Nursing Public Health Forum, said: ‘This is amazing news, which shows the huge benefits that early intervention and the advancement of treatment and care has for patients.

‘Nurses know the importance of encouraging people to get tested and to seek treatment, which reduces onward transmission of the virus.’

READ MORE: 'Game-changing' HIV drug now available in Scotland

Dr Delpech didn't rule out the impact of the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drug, now accessed by some gay men through the PROUD efficacy trial, as well as privately, on the figures.

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