New HIV statistics show London’s ‘great progress’ towards zero infections target

  • By JackGraves

New data showing further reductions in HIV rates in the capital has been welcomed by London Councils.

National figures released today by Public Health England confirm HIV rates continue to decline, with the number of new HIV diagnoses at their lowest level since 2000.

Overall new diagnoses in London have declined 42% between 2015 and 2018 (from 2,585 down to 1,504).

The data reveals that the biggest falls have been among gay and bisexual men who are living in London, with a 50% decrease (1,459 new diagnoses in 2015 to 736 in 2018). In 2018, two in every five gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV lived in London.

The steepest recent declines in heterosexuals diagnosed with HIV have also been seen in London (falling from 688 in 2015 to 416 in 2018, a 40% decrease). In 2018 there were 249 new diagnoses among black African adults in London, a reduction of 41% compared to the 419 diagnoses in 2015

Responding to the data, London Councils has highlighted the key contribution made by the capital’s ground-breaking approach to HIV prevention. 

Through the collaborative London HIV Prevention Programme (LHPP), London boroughs run co-ordinated, city-wide campaigns and services. These include the Do It London campaign, an award-winning initiative set up in 2015 that helps Londoners understand how to look after their sexual health and prevent HIV transmission. This is supported by London’s world-class sexual health services, commissioned by local authorities in the capital.

Do It London has promoted its messages all across the capital – including through thousands of street-side adverts, 28,000 ad panels on the London Underground and buses, and more than 64 million digital display impressions on Londoners’ mobiles, tablets, and laptops.

Since Do It London began there has been a steep decline in the number of people diagnosed with HIV in the capital.   

Cllr Ray Puddifoot, London Councils’ Executive Member for Health & Care, said:

“These latest figures are fantastic news and show that London continues to make great progress on reducing HIV rates.

“We’re immensely proud of the contribution made by the boroughs’ collaborative London HIV Prevention Programme and the Do It London campaign. By working efficiently and effectively together, boroughs ensure clear and consistent messages are communicated to Londoners about the importance of testing and protection.  

“We are fully committed to helping London achieve zero new HIV infections by 2030. It’s an ambitious goal, but if we maintain this downward trend there’s no reason why it can’t be done.”  

Paul Steinberg, lead commissioner of the London HIV Prevention Programme, said:

“Today’s report is the latest evidence of London leading the way on HIV prevention.

“The capital has made really significant progress in reducing HIV incidence in recent years, and the London HIV Prevention Programme is a crucial factor in that ongoing process. Co-ordinating local authorities’ public health approach is paying dividends and London is now seen around the world as a success story in terms of HIV prevention.

“However, HIV remains a major challenge in the capital – we need to continue our efforts to reduce late diagnosis and to raise awareness among at-risk communities. London boroughs remain as committed as ever to preventing HIV and improving public health outcomes.”

London is a member of the worldwide Fast-Track Cities initiative and became one of the first global cities to meet the UN’s ambitious HIV diagnosis and treatment targets. Working together with other cities, London has pledged to achieve three key HIV goals by 2030: zero new transmissions, zero deaths, and zero stigma.