About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) presents data on the uptake of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), HIV diagnoses and access to specialist HIV care and treatment in Scotland.

Main points

  • Between July and December 2021, the average number of individuals accessing services each month for their first HIV PrEP prescription (147) was almost as high as the average numbers recorded on implementation of the programme in July to December 2017 (166) and January to June 2018 (150).
  • The downward trend in the number of HIV diagnoses observed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic continued during 2021 with 218 reports; of these, one third (77) were first ever diagnoses and 141 were previously known outwith Scotland.
Image caption Annual number of first ever HIV diagnoses by route of exposure in Scotland, 2012–2021*

* Total (all exposure categories) includes diagnoses with other or unknown routes of acquisition under investigation.  

  • Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men continue to account for the largest proportions of i) all HIV reports, and ii) first ever diagnoses, recorded annually in Scotland; the majority are thought to have acquired their infection in Scotland.
  • The number of recently acquired HIV infections (within the previous 3-4 months) continues to decline.
  • At 31 December 2021, a total of 6,415 people were living with HIV in Scotland.
  • Of those receiving specialist HIV care, 97% were on antiretroviral therapy and, of those, 94% had an undetectable viral load.


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) attacks the immune system, causing a chronic, lifelong infection which can be managed successfully by antiretroviral therapy. HIV can be transmitted through condomless vaginal and anal sex, sharing needles, syringes or other injecting equipment and transmission from mother to baby during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding. Untreated HIV infection progresses to advanced HIV disease or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). People diagnosed with HIV and on ART are able to live long, healthy lives. HIV PrEP is highly effective for preventing sexual acquisition of HIV.

Further information

The next release of this publication will be Autumn 2023.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.bbvsti@phs.scot.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 20 November 2023
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