New figures from Public Health England have revealed that new HIV case numbers have dropped by 50 per cent in the East End over the past four years. Tower Hamlets has the lowest rate of late HIV diagnosis across the entire country according to the statistics.
Under 20% of Tower Hamlets’ HIV cases are now classed as late diagnoses, which is a significant improvement on the 43 per cent national average. In general, the mark of a late diagnosis is when a person’s CD4 count drops below 350. It can also be classed as late if it reaches 350 within three months of the diagnosis.
The earlier doctors can catch HIV, the better they can treat it before it takes hold of an immune system. The figures in Tower Hamlets are attributed to Positive East charity and the NHS working together in the area, providing 30,000 free tests in the past year.
Tower Hamlets mayor, John Biggs, still believes that HIV and AIDS carry a stigma than must be addressed further. He said: “There is still more work to be done. We have to tackle the stigma associated with HIV, but can reduce it further by working with other local authorities across London.”
Tower Hamlets council said it had committed to assisting with the Do It London campaign funding this year, with the aim to spread awareness about regular tests, as well as educating the public on various prevention methods.
This includes engaging in safe sex using condoms and the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis. This is a drug that can be taken before sex that blocks HIV if it does enter the human body.