HIV rate up in Newham as diagnoses decline in rest of England

The HIV rate has jumped in Newham, defying the national decline. Picture: Niall Carson/PA.

The HIV rate has jumped in Newham, defying the national decline. Picture: Niall Carson/PA. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Newham remains one of the worst areas in England for HIV, according to new data from Public Health England.

The government has said it is well on its way towards eradicating HIV by 2030, as new cases continued to decline across the country - but campaigners warn some areas are at risk of being left behind. The figures reveal 77 people were diagnosed with the human immunodeficiency virus in Newham during 2018 - 27.8 cases in every 100,000 people aged 15 and over. This was an increase on the previous year, bucking the decline seen across the country as a whole, and places the borough far above the national average of 8.8.

There is still no cure for HIV, which damages the body's immune system and weakens its ability to fight off other infections and illnesses. It is passed from person to person through body fluids such as semen or blood, and is most commonly caught by having unprotected sex.

New diagnoses of the virus - which can cause sufferers to develop the life-threatening illness Aids - fell by 28 per cent across the UK between 2015 and 2018, from 6,271 to 4,484.

Ian Green is chief executive of HIV charity the Terrence Higgins Trust. He welcomed the news, but warned the government needs to do more if it is to meet its target of ending HIV infection by 2030.

"We have the necessary tools to end transmissions, but we need to maximise these across all groups affected by HIV right across the UK to ensure that no-one is left behind," he said."The medical progress in the fight against HIV has been incredible, but stigma remains a huge barrier.

"In order to continue progress, HIV must be prioritised as a public health issue because more of the same won't cut it."

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A spokeswoman for Barts Health, the trust that provides hospitals for Newham, said sexual health services can be found at the Sir Ludwig Guttam Centre in Stratford.

"Here patients can access HIV testing, pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV, the testing and treatment of other sexually transmitted infections and a full range of contraceptive options," she added.

"Patients living with HIV receive their care and antiretroviral treatment at our dedicated, multidisciplinary service at Newham University Hospital."