Welcome investment for HIV prevention in the city

NHS and council leaders have welcomed a new national HIV action plan which targets investment to key areas with high rates of HIV which we expect to include Brighton & Hove.

The government has published a new HIV action plan, identifying more than £23 million of funding, to reduce new infections in England by 80% by 2025 and end infections and deaths by 2030.

The action plan, which has launched to mark World Aids Day, builds on existing work happening with partners across the city.

The plan includes scaling up HIV testing to target those groups for whom uptake is lower to ensure new infections are identified rapidly. This will include delivering opt-out testing in A&E departments.

In Brighton & Hove health and council leaders and local charities have been working together to bring extra investment to this work through the Towards Zero HIV Taskforce.

The Department of Health and Social Care will now work with identified areas to look at how and where they will invest.

Lola Banjoko, Executive Managing Director from Sussex NHS commissioners, said:

“HIV is a real priority for everyone working across health and care in Brighton and Hove which is why we have been working with partners to bring this innovative testing model to the city. We are delighted to be working with partners across the system to use this investment to help tackle HIV and AIDS.”

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, leader of Brighton & Hove City Council, said:

“We welcome this investment as it will help us reduce HIV and build on Brighton & Hove’s aim to have zero new HIV transmissions. This is funding that we have lobbied extensively for with local HIV organisations, local NHS as well as the city council, working with great national charities Terrence Higgins Trust, National AIDS Trust and the Elton John Foundation.

“40 years ago this month, the first AIDS case was diagnosed in the UK and sadly too many of Brighton & Hove’s residents have died since. Today thankfully HIV can be controlled with medication and with the vast majority able to live life to the full. We see new HIV diagnoses continue to fall, though HIV hasn’t gone away so we need to keep up our work.

“Our city is the host to some of the best HIV support, treatment and prevention services in the country. And this news builds on the significant partnership and lobbying work of our Towards Zero HIV Taskforce. It will be well supported by our many brilliant local services including Terrence Higgins Trust, Lunch Positive, the Martin Fisher Foundation and the Sussex Beacon.”

“Most people with HIV in Brighton & Hove know their status. The challenge is to identify those who don’t yet know. Providing access to HIV tests at hospital will enable more people to get tested, know their status and start treatment if they need to.

“I’m extremely proud of all the work our Towards Zero HIV Taskforce partners have put in for us to get to this point, we will continue this fight against HIV together.”

99% of those diagnosed with HIV in Brighton & Hove are receiving antiretroviral treatment and more than 98% of those have an undetectable viral load, which means they cannot pass the virus on.

This is in part due to making testing readily accessible in a variety of settings, for example, a world-first Trust initiative, ‘HIV testing in the community’ uses a smart vending machine to dispense free HIV self-testing kits to a traditionally difficult to reach group of individuals.

The challenge now is to identify and treat the remaining undiagnosed infection in the city. This action plan and the routine offer of HIV testing in A&E will support the development of this further.

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