The Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has set out a commitment to end transmission of HIV in England by 2030. He said this will happen through better prevention, detection, and treatment.
The announcement was made at the AIDSfree Cities Global Forum organised by the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), Evening Standard and The Independent.
The work to end transmissions will be supported by £600,000 in funding from Public Health England’s HIV Prevention Innovation Fund.
The funding will go to 13 innovative UK schemes to help reduce the risk of people getting HIV and reduce stigma.
An expert group will also be created to develop an action plan. Prevention will be at the heart of the plan, along with measurable action points for groups of people who are at risk of infection.
The UK has played a lead role in addressing HIV since the epidemic started, helping to stop AIDS-related deaths, preventing new HIV infections and investing in research and technology.
Innovative antiretroviral treatment has meant people diagnosed with HIV living in the UK can lead normal and long lives. With more people in Britain on lifesaving treatment that ever before, fewer people will become infected as a result. New cases of HIV fell by 28% in the last 2 years.
HIV testing in sexual health services in England has increased by 15% from 2013 to 2017. HIV testing is an important part of ending the epidemic. It decreases the number of people living with HIV who are unaware of their infection and who may pass on the virus.
Reducing stigma of the disease is also a big part of the work as this can prevent people from getting tested.
Work to stop HIV is also focused outside of the UK. The government has invested £1.2 billion in in the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, and UK Aid is expanding access to life-saving HIV treatment.
The Department for International Development has pledged to match public donations up to £2 million to the ‘AIDSfree’ appeal.
The support will improve access to HIV and AIDS care and treatment for those most in need in Nairobi in Kenya, and Maputo in Mozambique.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:
HIV and AIDS are challenges that we must rise to. The injustice, the unfairness and the sadness they have brought and bring to this day must be tackled by us all.
My generation grew up knowing AIDS was a potential death sentence. That doesn’t have to be the case anymore. Thanks to medical breakthroughs, public health campaigns, breaking down stigma and better education, AIDS is no longer a death sentence here. I feel proud that Britain has made such progress. But when I think about what’s going on elsewhere, I feel anger that our progress is not yet reflected around the world.
We’re all part of the global solution to this global challenge. What we do locally in London, in Delhi, in Nairobi, in Maputo, in Kiev, in Atlanta, in other cities, has an impact globally.
So today we’re setting a new goal: eradicating HIV transmission in England by 2030. No new infections within the next decade. Becoming one of the first countries to reach the UN zero-infections target by 2030.
From the ultra-local to the truly global. That’s the approach we must take to eliminate AIDS.
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:
While the world has made great strides in tackling HIV and AIDS, we need to step up our efforts. The battle is far from over, especially in poorer countries where stigma, lack of awareness and a scarcity of lifesaving medicines remain.
AIDS is still the biggest killer of women of reproductive age around the world, and every week about 7,000 young women are infected with HIV.
UK Aid Match means that every time the British public donate to the AIDSfree appeal, we match their donations pound for pound and their generosity goes twice as far.
This UK aid money is aimed at helping some of the most vulnerable young people living in Nairobi and Maputo. It will improve access to HIV and AIDS testing and treatment directly. It will change and – in many cases – save lives. We passionately believe we can create an AIDS-free future for the whole world. That’s the scale of our ambition.
This campaign, backed by the generosity of the public, will help us to make this a reality.