The number of HIV diagnoses in Switzerland has reached an all-time low thanks to screening and early treatment, according to the Federal Office of Public Health. Last year 425 new cases were reported, 4.5% less than in 2017.
The health office said on Mondayexternal link that there were two main reasons for the falling number of new HIV cases. First, people at a high risk of infection were getting themselves tested more frequently, allowing treatment to be started earlier in the event of an infection.
Second, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) probably also played a role. With PrEP, one can protect oneself against HIV infection by taking medication. This measure is recommended for people at a high risk of HIV infection. It is estimated that 1,500 people used PrEP last year in Switzerland, the majority being gay men.
Despite the decrease, HIV prevention remains important, the health office stressed. “HIV can only be eliminated in Switzerland by 2030 if safe sex rules are followed. The disease remains incurable and requires lifelong treatment,” it said.
Among other sexually transmitted infections, cases of gonorrhoea increased by 11% in 2018 with 3,116 reported cases. This increase is mainly due to increased screening among risk groups as a result of various campaigns, the health office said.
Chlamydia remains stable with 11,102 reported cases in 2018. This stabilisation represents a new trend. Between 2000 and 2016, the number of chlamydia cases a year increased from 2,000 to 11,000.
The number of new syphilis infections has remained stable over the past three years.