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London joins initiative in major push to reduce new HIV infections and eliminate stigma

Khan signed the Paris Declaration on Fast-Track Cities Ending the AIDS Epidemic, along with borough leaders, Public Health England and NHS England. Their ambition is to cut rates of new HIV infection in the capital and eliminate discrimination and stigma associated with the condition.

London has already made great strides towards achieving the primary United Nations targets for the Fast-Track Cities initiative. In 2016, for the first time in London, all the UN’s 90:90:90 targets were met with 90 per cent of people living with HIV infection diagnosed, 97 per cent of people diagnosed receiving treatment, and 97 per cent of people receiving treatment being virally suppressed.

London is only the third city to achieve this target so far – joining Amsterdam and Melbourne.

Of the decision to join the initiative, Khan said: “Over the past year, we’ve seen a dramatic decline in the numbers of new HIV diagnoses and, for the first time in decades, ending new HIV infections in the capital is a real possibility – but we cannot be complacent. Reducing new infections is a complex issue which requires continued education, expanded testing, prompt access to treatment and the availability of preventative HIV treatment, including PrEP on the NHS.

“By signing London up as a Fast-Track City, we are taking on the challenge to end new HIV infections in the capital by 2030. We must be ambitious, and I am confident that by working together we can achieve this goal.

“As well as putting an end to new infections, I am clear that HIV-related stigma and discrimination must end too. Improving the quality of life and wellbeing of those living with HIV in London is a priority for me, which is why I’m proud to sign this commitment today.”

During an event held at City Hall yesterday, the Mayor and representatives from NHS England, Public Health England and London Councils, agreed to support the initiative.

  • As London signs up as a Fast-Track City, the Mayor is committing to work with partners to:
  • Continue work to exceed the UN’s 90:90:90 HIV targets (90 per cent of people living with HIV knowing their status, 90 per cent of people with diagnosed HIV on treatment, 90 per cent of people on treatment with suppressed viral loads)
  • End new HIV infections in the capital by 2030
  • Put a stop to HIV-related stigma and discrimination
  • Stop preventable deaths from HIV-related causes
  • Work to improve the health, quality of life and wellbeing of people living with HIV across the capital

London carries a high proportion of the national HIV epidemic. In 2016, an estimated 38,700 people were living with HIV in London, which represents 43 per cent of all people living with HIV in England. These figures include both those diagnosed and undiagnosed. The population groups most affected by HIV are gay and bisexual men and people of black African heritage.

In 2016, the number of gay and bisexual men in London newly diagnosed with HIV fell for the first time in many years, falling by 30 per cent to an estimated 1,266 in 2016. The largest falls were seen in five specialist clinics in the capital – Dean Street, Mortimer Market, Homerton, St Mary’s and St Thomas’s – all of which deliver high rates of HIV testing and rapid access to effective treatment.

Despite this progress, there is still much more to do. For many Londoners HIV remains a stigmatising condition that negatively impacts on quality of life. Late and undiagnosed infection rates remain unacceptably high (34 per cent and 10 per cent respectively) and with considerable geographical variability across the city. Prevalence varies by ethnicity and by place of residence with disproportionately high rates amongst BAME communities in poorer areas of the city.

The needs of people living with HIV in London are changing and becoming more complex. Effective anti-retroviral therapy means that more people are now living with HIV and are growing older. Improving the health, quality of life and wellbeing of people living with HIV in the capital is vital. The UK Stigma Index 2015 found that, despite some shifts in public attitudes, many people in the UK still hold discriminatory views towards people living with HIV.

London’s HIV response to date includes Do It London, the pan-London prevention campaign funded by London boroughs as well as high-quality HIV treatment services delivered by the NHS. Community organisations have also been at the heart of the response to HIV. Since its launch in 2015, Do It London has promoted HIV testing and good sexual health across the capital. The current campaign phase informs the public of the variety of options now available for avoiding transmission of HIV through sexual contact.

This reflects how London is embracing effective combination preventative treatment – including innovative approaches to HIV testing, diagnosis and treatment, drugs for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and condom distribution.

Terrence Higgins Trust CEO Ian Greensaid: “This move demonstrates Sadiq Khan’s commitment to reducing HIV stigma, and to completely eradicating HIV transmission in the capital before 2030.

“Although ambitious, this is absolutely achievable, but requires us doubling-down on our efforts and not becoming complacent. We must see a range of sexual health services available and maintained, better access to preventative treatment including PrEP and the introduction of inclusive Relationships and Sex Education as compulsory in schools.”

For more visit Terrence Higgins Trust 


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Danielle Mustarde

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