After the deaths of pop legends Prince, Bowie and George Michael, several tragic terror attacks globally and the outcome of the US Presidential Election, one might say that 2016 was probably a year of bad news. But not everything was all bad – there is some really great news about 2016 that you must hear.
The latest NSW HIV report for 2016 recently released by the Ministry of Health has found that 2016 had the lowest number of new HIV cases in the last five years. There were a total of 317 cases for the year which is a 9% decrease compared to the average amount over the previous six years. Wow.
Now it may be too early to tell if this is the start of the downward trend of HIV transmissions we’ve been in much anticipation of, but the signs are good. Real good.
One key piece of this picture has been the commencement of the EPIC-NSW Study. In less than a year, nearly 4,400 people at high risk of HIV infection were provided with PrEP through the trial, exceeding the 3,700 participants it had expected to enrol. The study will run for a two-year period, providing PrEP – a highly effective prevention tool – to those who need it most.
Testing for HIV also saw an increase of 7% compared to 2015 and has gradually increased year on year. More than 536,000 HIV tests were performed from January to December 2016, smashing the previous year’s record.
For people living with HIV, access to treatment has, similarly to testing, also seen a steady increase over the years. A direct result of this is that more people are also achieving and maintaining an undetectable viral load (UVL), with between 93%-96% of people on treatment having recorded a UVL at their most recent test.
The report in full details many more findings and record-achievements that show the hard work NSW has been doing is paying off. From government to community-based organisations, to you – the community – these results have been the product of a driven passion to end the HIV epidemic.
There is an eagerness to educate ourselves on the new tools and technologies, a desire to see them adopted and made accessible, and if we continue to foster these attitudes, continue to stay safe, test often and treat HIV we can put HIV in the history books.