New South Wales (NSW), the Australian state that includes Sydney, has experienced a rapid recent decline in its HIV diagnosis rate, in particular among men who have sex with men (MSM), aidsmap reports. This recent success appears to be the result of the state’s focus on harnessing the power of antiretrovirals (ARVs) to prevent transmission.

According to the collected findings of numerous large studies, when HIV is fully suppressed through effective ARV treatment, an individual’s risk of transmitting the virus through sex is so vanishingly small, it is effectively zero. PrEP is estimated to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV by more than 99 percent.

NSW has recently pushed for increased HIV testing, linkage to HIV-related medical care and early treatment for the virus.

Additionally, the EPIC-NSW PrEP study launched in the state in March 2016 has thus far enrolled more than 6,700 people, the vast majority of them MSM. Although Truvada (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/emtricitabine) was approved for use as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in Australia in 2016, the nation’s health care system doesn’t currently cover PrEP, a fact that has largely restricted access to the drug to those who participate in studies of Truvada for prevention.

Between July 2016 and June 2017, NSW saw 288 HIV diagnoses, a rate 19 percent lower than the average diagnosis rate seen during the previous five years. A total of 217 (75 percent) of these recent diagnoses were among MSM, a rate 25 percent lower than the previous five-year average.

During the second quarter of 2017, the 72 people diagnosed with HIV in NSW represented a 25 percent drop overall and a 32 percent drop among MSM compared with the average diagnosis rate during that period over the previous five years.  

To read the aidsmap article, click here.

To read a press release form the UNSW Sydney about the HIV rate drop, click here.