Ahead of October’s Comprehensive Spending Review, the UK’s leading HIV charities have urged the Chancellor and Health Secretary to fund the end of new cases of HIV in England.
Every week 80 people are diagnosed with HIV in the UK, despite there being tools available to halt onward HIV transmissions.
Along with the Elton John AIDS Foundation and National AIDS Trust, we’re calling on Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid to do the right thing and make good on the promise made by the Government almost 1,000 days ago to end new cases of HIV in England by 2030.
Speaking in the House of Commons on World AIDS Day 2020, the Chancellor boldly said: ‘As we remember those we have lost to HIV and AIDS, we also remind ourselves of the need for further action. I am proud that this Conservative Government’s policy is to end new HIV transmission by 2030 – a commitment reaffirmed today at the launch of the HIV Commission.’
Now the Chancellor needs to put his money where his mouth is as part of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review next month that will set out his spending plans for the next three years.
Later this year, the Health Secretary is expected to unveil a new HIV Action Plan that will set out the roadmap of how the Government plans to reach the 2030 goal of ending new cases of HIV and the interim target of an 80% reduction in new cases by 2025. Both Government Ministers need to work together by funding and delivering an HIV Action Plan that leaves no one behind.
This must include:
- HIV testing: free at-home testing all year round and testing in hospitals and GPs in areas of high rates of HIV in England.
- Support for people living with HIV: everyone in England should have access to life-saving treatment and mental health and support services.
- HIV prevention: more people need to be aware of and have access to the HIV prevention drug PrEP.
- National HIV prevention programmes and campaigns – Information and campaigns that inform people about the realities of HIV in 2021, including ‘undetectable=untransmittable’ and stigma-busting messaging.
The charities are calling on supporters to write to the Chancellor and Health Secretary to make their voice heard in the corridors of power.
People living with HIV are being encouraged to share their experiences of being diagnosed with HIV by writing to both Sunak and Javid to underline why there must be a step change in the support provided to the 106,000 people living with HIV in the UK, many of whom are twice as likely to experience poor mental health, often fuelled by HIV stigma and misinformation about the virus.
Deborah Gold, Chief Executive of the National AIDS Trust, said: ‘The ground-breaking work of the HIV Commission and the Government’s commitment to publishing an Action Plan to end new cases of HIV by 2030 will be for nothing if not matched with new funds. Without the Government allocating the necessary resources, the chance to end new cases of HIV by 2030 could slip from our grasp and we can’t afford for this to happen.’
Anne Aslett, Chief Executive Officer of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, said: ‘Where opt-out HIV testing in Emergency Departments exists, the public support it. It changes lives and saves time and money. The Government must support this nationwide and provide new funding now.’
Ian Green, Chief Executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: ‘Together the Chancellor and the Health Secretary can provide new funds for HIV. If they do so, they not only put us on track to end new cases of HIV by 2030 but on course to be the first country in the world to meet this important global goal. I hope they take this opportunity – it will change lives and inspire millions.’