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How Tower Hamlets is winning the battle to stop spread of HIV

PUBLISHED: 14:00 03 October 2019 | UPDATED: 14:20 03 October 2019

Blood tests for HIV carried out as routine at Royal London Hospital. Picture: Barts NHS

Blood tests for HIV carried out as routine at Royal London Hospital. Picture: Barts NHS

Barts NHS

The number of new cases of HIV has fallen by half in the East End in the past four years, new figures reveal.

Mayor John Biggs in 2018 joins campaign for regular HIV tests for all. Picture: LBTHMayor John Biggs in 2018 joins campaign for regular HIV tests for all. Picture: LBTH

A public awareness campaign has also led to the lowest rate of late diagnosis recorded by Tower Hamlets than anywhere else in the country, according to Public Health England's latest statistics.

But the stigma of having Aids continues, the local authority believes.

"There is still more work to be done," mayor John Biggs said. "We have to tackle the stigma associated with HIV, but can reduce it further by working with other local authorities across London."

The council is helping to fund this year's Do It London campaign encouraging people to get tested regularly and be aware of prevention methods.

Tower Hamlets helping to fund 'Do It London' campaign for public to be aware of HIV prevention. Picture: LBTHTower Hamlets helping to fund 'Do It London' campaign for public to be aware of HIV prevention. Picture: LBTH

It promotes more frequent testing and safe sex using condoms or pre-exposure prophylaxis, a drug taken before sex that reduces the risk by blocking HIV if it gets into the body.

Fewer than one-in-five diagnoses in Tower Hamlets are now classed as late, compared to 43 per cent nationally, thanks to a programme run with the NHS and the Positive East charity for free and confidential tests, with 30,000 carried out in the past 12 months alone.

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