A Christmas Carol

This month the spirits of Christmas past, present and future visit us. We reflect on the changes in HIV prevention and AIDS treatment in the last decades.

The Past

On 12 December 1981 a 49-year-old man died in Brompton hospital due to an AIDS related illness – the first death in the UK. He was looked after by Professor Gazzard who still works at Dean Street.

When HIV and AIDS first appeared in the UK there was no effective treatment. People diagnosed with AIDS typically died within 2 years. Initially no one knew what caused it or how it was passed on. There was widespread panic and lurid headlines in the papers.

In 1996 the first effective anti HIV treatments became available. These early treatments were often complicated to take and had unpleasant side effects. However death rates plummeted as people’s health improved.

The Present

Modern HIV treatments are much easier to take and have few side effects. Although they can have more health problems, people with HIV can expect to have a pretty normal life expectancy. We know people on effective HIV treatment cannot pass their HIV to others (Undetectable viral load)

HIV PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) involves taking pills containing the drugs tenofovir and emtricitabine to protect you from catching HIV. It works really well if you take it correctly.  However, its not currently available on the NHS in England.

For more information about PrEP and how to take it, visit the Dean Street YouTube playlist.

The Future

We believe that there’s a future where there are ZERO new cases of HIV.

We finally have the tools to end HIV. In the present HIV rates have fallen dramatically. But we need to step things up to get it falling further.

We all need to act together. Take 30 seconds to take the ‘PLAN ZERO’ challenge.

We hope that NHS PrEP will be available within the next 18 months and we’re gearing up so that we’re ready as soon as it is.

There’s still no cure for HIV but we’re developing our services to make sure our users to benefit from all the latest advances. We are working for a future without stigma where HIV positive people live long, healthy lives.