Thank you to everyone who has got in touch recently about action to end HIV transmission by 2030 and the HIV Commission’s report.
I support the Commission’s recommendations and I pay tribute to the Terence Higgins Trust, the National AIDS Trust and the Elton John AIDS Foundation for their long record of campaigning on this important issue.
While there have been significant advances in treatment and awareness of HIV in recent years, more needs to be done to address inequalities in the progress towards reducing undiagnosed infections. Frequent testing is essential so that everyone with an HIV infection can be offered lifesaving treatment, which also prevents onward HIV transmission. The offer of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) to those most at risk is critically important.
The Health Secretary has confirmed that the HIV Commission’s report will be used as the basis for the Government’s HIV Action Plan, which is expected to be published this year.
I believe Ministers should go further and adopt the report’s recommendations in full. This must include funding opt-out HIV testing across the NHS, making PrEP available beyond sexual health clinics – including in GP practices and pharmacies – and transforming mental health support for those living with HIV.
More widely, I appreciate that some people living with HIV still face unacceptable stigma and discrimination and we must do more to change social attitudes. HIV and AIDS are challenges that we must rise to together. The injustice, the unfairness, and the sadness they have brought and bring to this day must be tackled by the Government and society as a whole.
Russell T. Davies’ hit drama It’s A Sin has sparked an epic conversation about HIV in the 1980s and early 1990s; a time of real despair, especially for the LGBT+ community.
We now live in a time of hope. It is scientifically possible to end new cases of HIV across the UK before the decade is out. The final report of the HIV Commission said England could be the first country to meet this ambitious goal – but only if the Government follows its advice.
I will follow developments in this area closely and urge the Government to adopt the Commission’s recommendations as part of the HIV Action Plan.