It's almost 1000 days since the Government committed to ending new HIV transmissions by 2030 and we're still waiting for action. With the National AIDS Trust, Elton John AIDS Foundation, Terrence Higgins Trust and over 35 other organisations, we've written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Secretary of State Sajid Javid, asking them to deliver on the Government's promise.
Dear Chancellor and Secretary of State,
As 35 HIV charities, community organisations and health professional bodies, we are writing to you both to ask that you commit to fully funding the once-in-a-generation opportunity to end new transmissions of HIV and change countless lives.
Every week 80 lives in the UK are changed forever because they are diagnosed with HIV.
It has now been 40 years since the first cases of HIV were reported and, despite huge medical advances which mean HIV is no longer a death sentence, preventable cases of HIV are still happening.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You have the power to change this in the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review – you can help to end the HIV epidemic in the UK. It has been nearly 1000 days since the government committed to doing this by 2030. The clock is now ticking.
Millions of people in the UK watched Channel 4’s drama It’s A Sin, seeing the agonising destruction HIV/AIDS caused on so many lives in the early days of the epidemic. This show galvanised thousands of people to test for HIV – many for the first time – and to urge political action to end new cases of HIV within the decade.
Now the government needs to play its part.
Across the UK, there are at least 6600 people who are living with HIV but are not diagnosed. There are still over half a million people who leave a sexual health clinic but don’t test for HIV. And there are still people who are being diagnosed so late that their health is irreversibly impacted.
At the Dispatch Box on World AIDS Day 2020, the Chancellor underlined the government's commitment to ending the domestic HIV epidemic within the decade.
"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 we ask you both to turn these words into action.
We need the government to fully fund its new HIV Action Plan as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review. The government promised to ‘build back better’ after the COVID-19 pandemic; now is the time to do this in the fight to end HIV.
Here’s what must happen:
- Expand HIV testing. Everyone needs to know their HIV status to be able to get HIV treatment if needed. Free at-home testing all year round and tests in hospitals and GPs in areas of high rates of HIV in England.
- Greater support for people living with HIV. Regardless of where someone lives in the country, they should have access to life-saving treatment, mental health, and support services, so they can enjoy healthier lives.
- Increased funding for HIV prevention. More people need to be aware of and have access to the HIV prevention drug PrEP, and other prevention tools.
- New national HIV prevention programmes and campaigns. These must inform and educate people about the realities of HIV in 2021, stopping HIV stigma including sharing more widely the effectiveness of HIV treatment and Undetectable = Untransmittable messaging.
Action now will have huge impact and put the country on course to end transmissions by the end of the decade. History will look kindly on the leadership and financial commitment that was made to fight to end new cases in this way.
As the governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have also committed to the 2030 HIV goal, it’s vital an uplift in funding is made available so progress can be felt in each part of the UK.
We urge the government not to miss this opportunity. Fund the fight and take the decisions required to end new cases of HIV by 2030 and fully support people living with HIV.
Ian Green, Chief Executive, Terrence Higgins Trust
Deborah Gold, Chief Executive, National AIDS Trust
Anne Aslett, Chief Executive Officer, Elton John AIDS Foundation
Dr John McSorley, President, British Association of Sexual Health & HIV (BASHH)
Dr Laura Waters, Chair, British HIV Association (BHIVA)
Nancy Kelley, Chief Executive, Stonewall
Grant Sugden, Chief Executive, Waverley Care
Mark Santos, Executive Director, Positive East
Tom Doyle, Chief Executive, Yorkshire MESMAC Group of Services
Simon Collins, Advocate, HIV i-Base
Rami Ghali, CEO, Brigstowe
Simon Jones, Chief Executive, Living Well
Matthew Hodson, Executive Director, NAM aidsmap
Siobhán Lanigan, Chief Executive, The Food Chain
Alex Sparrowhawk, Chair, UK Community Advisory Board (UK-CAB)
Alan Spink, HIV Caseworker, The Sussex Beacon
Carlos Corredor and Jose Trueba, Co-founders, Aymara Social Enterprise
Denis Onyango, Director of Programmes, Africa Advocacy Foundation
Sarah Macadam, CEO, Thames Valley Positive Support
Anthony West, Sexual Health Manager, Renaissance UK
Darren Knight, CEO, George House Trust
Will Nutland and Marc Thompson, Directors, The Love Tank CIC
Amanda Ely, CEO, CHIVA (Children’s HIV Association)
Dr Amanda Williams, Chair, CHIVA (Children’s HIV Association)
Rob Cookson, Deputy Chief Executive, LGBT Foundation
Ian Howley, CEO, LGBT HERO
Bill Puddicombe, Executive Director, Sussex Beacon
Revd Jide Macaulay, Founder & CEO, House of Rainbow CIC
Helen Wilkinson, Chief Executive, Sahir House
Andrew Evans, Deputy CEO, METRO Charity
Helen Marshall, Chief Executive, Brook
John McKernaghan, Chief Officer, The Brunswick Centre
Karen Skipper, CEO, Spectra
Chris Woolls, Director, River House Trust
Monty Moncrieff MBE, Chief Executive, London Friend
Juliet Reid, CEO, Centre for All Families Positive Health - CAFPH