Marking World AIDS Day 2021 and reflecting on the 40th anniversary of the first HIV diagnosis in the UK, London local government has reaffirmed its commitment to achieving zero new HIV diagnoses within the decade.
HIV remains a major public health challenge in the capital, with around 37,000 Londoners living with HIV. London has the highest HIV rates in the UK. Boroughs collaborate through the London HIV Prevention Programme (LHPP) and its ‘Do It London’ public health campaign, which shares pan-London messages on how to prevent HIV.
The LHPP was formed by the boroughs in 2014 in response to rising rates of HIV in the capital. Since the launch of the LHPP’s first ‘Do It London’ campaign in 2015, new diagnoses of HIV in London have decreased by 41% and London has made the fastest progress in reducing HIV of any UK region.
Together with the Mayor of London, the NHS, and voluntary sector and community partners, London local government is signed up to the Fast Track-Cities Programme and a commitment of achieving zero new HIV diagnoses by 2030.
Cllr Danny Thorpe, London Councils’ Executive Member for Health & Care, said:
“Forty years of the HIV/AIDS pandemic gives us so much to reflect on and learn from. While there’s a huge amount of sorrow and loss, there’s also incredible progress being made and real hope of ending HIV altogether.
“London boroughs remain committed to working with each other and our partners on tackling HIV as a key public health challenge. If we maintain the momentum of recent years, we’re on course to achieve zero new HIV diagnoses by 2030. Boroughs are determined to continue applying the innovative strategies and creative thinking needed to help make this happen as quickly as possible.”
Paul Steinberg, Lead Commissioner of the London HIV Prevention Programme, said:
“World AIDS Day is an important opportunity to commemorate those we have lost to the virus, at the same time as celebrating the major advances in HIV testing, treatment and prevention in recent years.
“Through their collaborative work to support prevention, London boroughs have played a key role in helping to turn the tide of rising HIV infections we saw a decade ago. With continued focus, London’s ambition of zero new HIV diagnoses within the decade is very achievable.
“However, it’s vital to keep reminding Londoners of the importance of HIV prevention. With the festive social season fast approaching, we want Londoners to be aware of the scientifically proven ways to prevent HIV and to take the right steps to protect themselves against infection.”
The ‘four sure’ methods of the combination prevention approach are:
- testing regularly for the virus;
- correct and consistent condom use;
- use of the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), the preventative HIV medication;
- for people diagnosed HIV positive, achieving an “undetectable” viral load via effective antiretroviral medication. This safeguards the health of people diagnosed with HIV and has the additional benefit of eliminating the risk of onwards viral transmission to their sexual partners.
Visit Do It London for more information about HIV combination prevention, including direct links to sexual health services.
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. Do It London is the public campaign of the London HIV Prevention Programme (LHPP), a unique partnership of 32 local authorities which is delivered on their behalf by Lambeth Council since 2014. For more information visit: www.doitlondon.org
Do It London launched in 2015 in response to rising rates of HIV infections in the capital since the turn of the century. London has since witnessed a major reduction in the number of people diagnosed with HIV and has set itself the target of ‘zero new HIV diagnoses by 2030’.
2. PrEP is for people who are HIV negative but at high risk of infection, such as men who have sex with men, black African males & females, and people who have an HIV positive partner. Up-to-date guidance on how to access PrEP from the NHS following its recent routine commissioning (1 October 2020) can be found on our website: http://doitlondon.org/prep/
3. Undetectable or U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable) means that people on effective HIV treatment end up having an undetectable viral load and cannot pass on/transmit the virus to their partners. This is aligned with a worldwide HIV awareness initiative known as “U=U”. For more information about the U=U initiative, visit: https://www.preventionaccess.org/about