PRESS RELEASE: The Netherlands on track to achieve several National Action Plan HIV Targets
Figures released today by Stichting HIV Monitoring (SHM) show that the number of new HIV diagnoses in the last three years has fallen from 941 in 2015 to 664 in 2018. This puts the Netherlands on track to achieve the target of halving the number of new HIV diagnoses by 2022, as set by the National Action Plan on STIs, HIV and Sexual Health.
The latest HIV Monitoring Report published today by SHM also shows that, in 2018, 92% of people estimated to be living with HIV in the Netherlands were aware of their HIV-positive status, 93% of these people were on treatment, and 96% of those on treatment had undetectable levels of the virus in their blood (‘92-93-96’). These figures indicate that, having previously achieved the global UNAIDS ’90-90-90’ fast-track target for 2020, the Netherlands is now also on track to achieve a second, more ambitious, target set by the National Action Plan of ’95-95-95’ by 2022.
Importantly, the report also shows a decline in the annual number of newly-acquired infections, the majority of which continue to occur among men who have sex with men (MSM).
Despite this welcome news, there is still room for improvement. The report shows that the degree to which the three ’95-95-95’ targets are being achieved differs both between and within groups of people, for example young people and men and women with a migration background. Furthermore, although MSM are generally being diagnosed increasingly sooner after acquiring an HIV infection, approximately one in three of these men are still diagnosed at a late stage of infection, with an already impaired immune system. This implies that MSM and other people at risk of acquiring HIV are not equally accessing and benefiting from HIV care and prevention services, possibly including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). A better and more precise understanding of the differences between, and needs of, these people will be vital in ensuring tailored and timely access to testing, prevention and care for all.
Peter Reiss, director of SHM, says ‘At a time when the Netherlands is striving to reach zero new HIV infections, the majority of which continue to occur in MSM, the persistently high rate of late diagnosis in some of these MSM is particularly worrying. It highlights the heterogeneity of the communities we’re serving, including that of MSM, and underscores the need for interventions which are increasingly tailored towards each community’s needs.’