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Sweden becomes first country in world to hit major milestone in fight against HIV

Ninety per cent of those with HIV in Sweden have been diagnosed and 99.8% of them are on treatment – helping to drive down infection rates

Sweden becomes first country in world to hit major milestone in fight against HIV
CDC | Public Domain – Electron microscope image of the HIV virus

Investigators have announced that Sweden is the first country in the world to hit a UNAIDS/World Health Organization (WHO) target of 90-90-90 with regards to HIV.

The target was first set in 2014 the health agencies. It aims for 90% of a country’s HIV Positive population being diagnosed, with at least 90% of those testing positive being on treatment and at least 90% of them having a virtually undetectable viral load after six months of therapy.

In Sweden, at the end of 2015, it’s believed that 90% of all those who are HIV positive have been diagnosed: 99.8% of them are on treatment, and 95% of those who have been treated for at least six months have a viral load below 50 copies/ml. The results were published in HIV Medicine.

By comparison, in the UK, it’s estimated that around 25% of those who are HIV positive are undiagnosed and unaware of their status.

Why is this 90-90-90 target important? Because if you are HIV positive and on treatment and have an undetectable viral load, it’s believed to be virtually impossible to pass on the virus.

Researcher believe that if a country hits the 90-90-90 target, then at least 73% of all people with HIV have viral suppression – a big enough proportion to have a major impact on HIV infections and related mortality.

It’s been noted that when a large proportion of a population are diagnosed and on treatment, infections rates fall.

A recent study of condomless sex between sero-discordant couples (where one is positive and on treatment – and one is negative) was unable to identify one incidence of infection over approximately 40,000 incidents of sex.

In San Francisco, it was announced earlier this month that the number of new HIV infections had fallen annually by around a third between 2013-2015.

Researchers say this is largely down to more people being tested and on treatment, and many HIV negative people taking Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis treatments (PrEP).

‘We believe that Sweden is the first country to achieve the UNAIDS/WHO 90-90-90 goal’

‘We believe that Sweden is the first country to achieve the UNAIDS/WHO 90-90-90 goal,’ said investigators in the HIV Medicine report.

They do point out that there are contributing factors to Sweden successfully hitting the target. It’s HIV population is relatively low (around 6,500 from a population of 9.5million), there’s free healthcare and immediate access to treatment for all those diagnosed with HIV.

There is also legislation that obliges laboratories and clinicians to report new HIV cases – ensuring patients are monitored and encouraged to keep follow-up appointments.

 

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