Currently, 92% of people living with HIV in the UK have been diagnosed. 98% of people diagnosed are receiving treatment, and 97% of people receiving treatment having an “undetectable viral load,” meaning that the levels of virus in the blood are so low it cannot be passed on. This means that the UK has achieved the UN’s “90-90-90 targets” to end the AIDS epidemic.
While this is an incredible achievement, we at the Elton John AIDS Foundation think we can go further.
As part of our #AIDSfree campaign with the Evening Standard and the Independent, reporters spoke with HIV consultant Professor Jane Anderson from the study of sexual health and HIV at the Homerton Hospital in Hackney.
“90 90 90 is only the beginning,” said Professor Anderson. “We still have people living in this city who are unaware of their HIV infection. There are still people who are unaware of the risks, who are not getting these messages.”
Professor Anderson stressed that though London has made crucial inroads in tackling new HIV infections, it is important to continue and develop these efforts.
In London, there are 38,600 people living with HIV, the vast majority of whom are diagnosed. However, 5% remain undiagnosed. Diagnoses of HIV have also been declining in the UK, dropping from 5,280 in 2016 to 4,363 in 2017. But there is no reason that number should not be 0.
“We must not be seduced by the fall in new infections and forget the increasing numbers of people living with HIV.” Professor Anderson said. “We cannot take our foot off the pedal now.”
Professor Anderson says that committing to zero new infections and preventable death by 2030 is an achievable goal.
We at the Elton John AIDS Foundation agree.
The HIV epidemic in London could be halted in the next 12 years if everybody who has the virus is diagnosed and takes treatment.
Through UK Aid Match, the UK government will double public donations up to £2 million to be spent across projects in Maputo and Nairobi.
£5 provides vital HIV testing information to those at risk
£20 will pay for a self-testing kit so those stigmatised can receive the help they need
£100 will ensure someone with a positive diagnosis is given the right treatment