George Marsden

The number of reported HIV cases in Scotland has dropped to a 13 year low. 285 diagnoses were made by Health Protection Scotland in 2016, compared with 360 in 2015, a reduction of 21%.

The good news comes as Scotland becomes the first country in the United Kingdom to approve the HIV prevention drug, Prep. Eligible patients will be prescribed the drug, which can cost up to £450 a month, after activists welcomed the Scottish Medical Consortium’s decision to give the drug the green light.

Infections for those between 15 and 24 years of age are at their lowest since 1995, and considering the average number of new cases of HIV ranged between 340 and 440 during the last decade, the current figures suggest a sizable improvement.

However, the reasons for this decline are by no means certain. Professor David Goldberg from Health Protection Scotland has warned against any undue optimism, suggesting fewer tests taking place could be the cause. He warned: “It is possible the numbers will return to 'normal' in 2017 and beyond.”

According to Professor Goldberg, the decline is most prevalent among homosexual men who became affected in Scotland and heterosexual men and women from high risk areas outside the United Kingdom.

The current figures for Scotland show that 101 of the diagnoses were made in the Glasgow and Clyde area, 70 in Lothian, 30 in Grampian and 27 in Lanarkshire. Of those, 227 were male and 169 were aged between 25 and 44 years.

Health Protection Scotland and various NHS boards are currently undertaking research into the underlying causes of the decline.

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