New figures have revealed that the overwhelming majority of people living with HIV in Tayside cannot pass the virus on to others.
Statistics from Health Protection Scotland for 2018 have revealed that 320 of the 379 people living with HIV in Tayside have an undetectable viral load.
This means the treatment being received by those living with the condition has reduced the levels of virus in their blood to a point where it cannot be picked up using tests.
Research has shown these people cannot pass HIV on to a partner via sexual intercourse.
Those with the condition receive treatment using a range of drugs called Antiretroviral Therapy (ART). The number of people receiving ART in Tayside sits at 337, with a total of 344 people in the region regularly attending specialist services.
The figures from HPC show that the country has reached the UN’s target of 90-90-90 set for 2020.
This means 90% of infected individuals have been diagnosed, and, of these, 90% are receiving ART, and of those receiving the therapy 90% have achieved an undetectable viral load.
In Tayside these targets are being exceeded, with 91% of people diagnosed, 98% on treatment and 95% having an undetectable viral load.
Dr Ciara Cunningham, genito-urinary medicine consultant at the health board, said the figures would do a lot to dispel the “outdated fear and stigma” surrounding the disease.
She said: “There have been major advances in HIV treatment in the last 30 years. While there is still no cure for HIV, we now have all the tools to prevent new transmissions and treatment to enable people to live a full and healthy life.
“Latest figures from Health Protection Scotland show that the overwhelming majority of those living with HIV in Tayside are on effective treatment and have an undetectable viral load which allows them to live healthy lives and have relationships free from worry.
“We hope this sends a positive message to the local community and remove the outdated fear and stigma that surrounds HIV.”
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HPC categorised their figures into three groups – men who have sex with men, those who have acquired the disease heterosexually, and those who acquired the disease injecting drugs.
The figures were broken down further for the whole of Scotland to cover other transmission routes including from mother to baby during pregnancy and childbirth.
In Scotland, people who have a high risk of getting HIV and are HIV negative can obtain drugs from the NHS known as Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). Using the drug can reduce the risk of contracting HIV by up to 99%.
Grant Sugden, pictured, the chief executive of Waverley Care, a charity that supports those living with HIV, says Scotland has done a lot to tackle the virus.
However, stigma around the condition is still causing a barrier to tackling the problem.
He said: “The stigma surrounding HIV can have a huge impact on the mental health of those living with the condition.
“Furthermore, it can put people off going to get tested and knowing their status.
“HIV is now a lifelong manageable condition and it’s important anyone who has been at risk is tested.”