New online tool pinpoints HIV health inequalities in England to improve prevention and planning
22nd June 2020: The rate of late HIV diagnosis, which is associated with a tenfold increase in mortality, varies from 25% to 69% across England with black African heterosexual men being disproportionately likely to be diagnosed late*. A new web-based interactive tool, using the latest HIV surveillance data from Public Health England, is launched today by HIV information charity NAM aidsmap, in partnership with Watipa and Gilead Sciences Ltd. The charity hopes that the tool, HIV Lens (https://www.hiv-lens.org/), will lead to improved HIV outcomes for all communities and populations in England and help put an end to health inequalities within HIV.
HIV Lens has been developed to help maintain the progress made against HIV in England. HIV prevention and care in England is among the best in the world, but not all communities are benefiting equally, and there is considerable variation by region. HIV Lens visualises the impact of the HIV epidemic on communities, in a bid to help improve prevention programmes and to focus commissioning efforts.
The goal of eliminating HIV transmission by 2030 depends upon sustaining HIV screening and prevention efforts and expanding them to reach all those at risk. There is substantial variation in sub-populations experiencing late HIV diagnosis rates in England, the highest of which are black African men (65% diagnosed late); white men who acquired HIV heterosexually (59% diagnosed late); people aged over 50 years (59% diagnosed late) and people who inject drugs (58% diagnosed late). Black African men, women and heterosexual non-black men living outside London have twice the rate of undiagnosed HIV infection compared to those living in the city. It is these kinds of health inequalities that need to be addressed to reach our 2030 goal.
Early access to treatment not only dramatically reduces the risk of ill health or death, but also helps prevent new HIV infections, as someone with HIV who is virally suppressed on treatment cannot pass the virus on to sexual partners. This is frequently referred to as U=U (Undetectable means Untransmittable).
HIV Lens illustrates how regions and localities compare with others across a range of HIV measures, including proportions of people with HIV who are diagnosed, on treatment and virally suppressed. Accessing HIV Lens, the user can personalise, share or download data of interest to them.
Matthew Hodson Executive Director of NAM aidsmap said: “New cases of HIV may be decreasing but the gains we have made have not been evenly distributed. Black men in particular are most likely to be diagnosed late. In order to win the battle, it is crucial that we make sure that everyone who has HIV is diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. We need to make sure that all groups are taken into consideration when commissioners are planning services. HIV Lens will help achieve this. No one should be left behind. Understanding that HIV treatment prevents transmission underlines the importance of ensuring that HIV is detected and treated. We must seize this opportunity to reduce HIV-related illness and deaths and to end the epidemic.”
Although 97% of people with diagnosed HIV in the UK are receiving treatment, an estimated 1,800 people with HIV are not in care, including 1,500 people who are not recorded as accessing care for at least 18 months. Reducing late diagnoses and ensuring that all who are diagnosed are treated is key to ending the epidemic.
Matthew Hodson said: “As COVID-19 illustrates, capturing and sharing data rapidly is crucial to an effective response. The goal of ending all new cases of HIV infection and HIV related deaths by 2030 is within our grasp but we will not get there unless we direct our efforts appropriately. It is crucial that HIV is diagnosed quickly and that all groups affected experience the benefits of treatment.”
NAM aidsmap would like to acknowledge the support and guidance of Dr Valerie Delpech and Dr Alison Brown of Public Health England in the development of HIV Lens, as well as Watipa and Gilead Sciences Ltd. Visit the website to start using the tool or to find out more: https://www.hiv-lens.org/
* A CD4 count below 350 within 91 days of diagnosis
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: PLEASE CONTACT MATT CHILVERS AT FOUR HEALTH
ON 07825 939 028 OR EMAIL FHC-NAM@FOUR.HEALTH
Notes to editors:
Globally, 70% of people who live with HIV are black. Of the 32 million people who have died of AIDS, the majority of lives lost have been among black people. Prejudice, whether it is against sexual minorities, sex workers, drug users or against people of colour has slowed access to HIV testing, treatment and care internationally and has increased the death toll attributable to AIDS. HIV continues to hit black and brown people hardest, in the UK, across Europe, in the US and around the world.
NAM stands in solidarity with black communities internationally and with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Please see below a link to read the full article ‘Black Lives Matter’ by Matthew Hodson
Alongside these kinds of health inequalities it has also been reported in a recent study by King’s College London that black people with HIV were 12 times more likely to hospitalised with COVID-19 than other people living with HIV. Whilst this is a small study, we do know that having underlying health conditions, like diabetes and hypertension, increases the risk of COVID-19 and that black people, including those with HIV, are more likely to have these conditions. Please see below a link to read the full article ‘Racism in HIV and COVID-19’ by Susan Cole.
About HIV Lens: HIV Lens is presented by NAM and Watipa with data provided by Public Health England and is supported by Gilead Sciences Ltd.
About NAM aidsmap: We are a charity based in the United Kingdom. We change lives by sharing information about HIV & AIDS NAM changes lives by sharing information about HIV & AIDS. We believe independent, clear and accurate information is vital in the fight against HIV & AIDS.
About Watipa: We are a social enterprise working to enable equal societies, just development, and equal health for all. Drawing on decades of experience in national and international development, we aim to creatively and collaboratively work to catalyse change and advocate to maintain what works responding to the dynamics and current realities of different contexts around the world. Watipa was registered on 11 June 2016 as a Community Interest Company (CIC) and on 25 May 2017 as a Registered Charity in England and Wales.
About Gilead Sciences Ltd: Gilead Sciences is a biopharmaceutical company that discovers, develops and commercializes innovative therapeutics in areas of unmet medical need. The company’s mission is to advance the care of patients suffering from life-threatening diseases worldwide.
- Gilead Sciences Ltd
- Gilead Sciences Ltd