The government’s HIV Action Plan commits £23 million of funding to reducing new infections by 80% by 2025 and ending infections and deaths by 2030.
Released on World AIDS Day on 1 December, £20 million will be allocated to targeted testing in high-risk populations, such as Black African communities, as well as expanding opt-out tests in A&E departments.
There will be £3.5 million invested in a National HIV Prevention Programme from 2021-2024 that will make PrEP more accessible for key groups.
All of this will be in a bid to lower transmission rates and allow those living with HIV to access the treatment they need as soon as possible.
“We will end new HIV infections in England by the end of the decade,” said Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid.
“We’ve made excellent progress already with transmissions continuing to fall across England and we are well on our way towards our ambition of zero HIV transmissions and deaths by 2030.
“The UK is leading the way to stamp out HIV and the new actions we are taking – from scaling up testing to increasing access to PrEP – will help people affected to live longer, healthier lives and eliminate this cruel disease for future generations.”
The UK has one of the biggest decreases in new HIV diagnoses worldwide, with the government reporting a 35% reduction in new diagnoses in England between 2014 and 2019.
In its announcement of the HIV Action Plan, the government commits to annually updating Parliament on the progress towards its 2030 goal.
The HIV Action Plan Implementation Steering Group will also be established with the aim of monitoring the situation and making sure current actions keep the 2025 and 2030 targets viable.
The government developed the plan alongside the HIV Oversight Group, which is chaired by Dame Inga Beale.
HIV at 40 premieres this #WorldAIDSDay
The film marks the milestones of the fight against HIV since the first AIDS-related death in the UK four decades ago.
— Terrence Higgins Trust (@THTorguk) November 29, 2021
Ian Green, Chief Executive at Terrence Higgins Trust, welcomed the government’s plan but noted that there “is still so much more to do”.
“This is the first new national money for HIV testing for almost a decade and keeps alive that life-changing Government commitment to end new cases in fewer than 10 years,” Green said. “But there is still so much more to do to make it a reality. To really get on track, we need to see opt-out testing scaled up across the country to ensure equitable progress in more areas, alongside training for those involved.”
A spokesperson for the National AIDS Trust shared a similar sentiment and explained that, despite the “substantial step in the right direction,” it still “won’t be enough”.
They said: “We warmly welcome the publication today of the Government’s new HIV Action Plan, including the first significant new funding for HIV testing in nearly a decade. The important new commitments, to fund opt-out HIV tests in hospitals in the highest prevalence areas, to explore making PrEP more widely available outside of sexual health services, to improve NHS training to tackle HIV stigma and to report annually on progress towards 2025 and 2030 targets are all a substantial step in the right direction.
“It is clear however that this Plan won’t be enough on its own to get us to our shared goal of ending HIV transmission by 2030 – a goal that is completely reachable. Many of the commitments are unspecific and not time-bound and momentum is key. Local authorities, who have responsibility for HIV prevention, are chronically underfunded, and the recent disappointing settlement on public health funding means that they will struggle to play their crucial role.”
Elton John, Founder of the Elton John AIDS Foundation and world-renowned musician, added: “Today’s news of the UK Government’s commitment to provide £20M to opt-out HIV testing underscores how critical the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s Social Impact Bond in south London has been over the past three years and we’re proud that this life-saving work for vulnerable communities will continue across the country.”