, , , ,

World Aids Day: Government must step up support for local sexual health clinics to achieve 2030 ambition – City MP

Stephen Morgan MP has said government must ‘step up’ support for local sexual health clinics to achieve the government’s commitment to end new UK HIV transmissions by 2030, a pledge matched by Labour.

This year marks 40 years since the start of the AIDS epidemic in the UK, which has taken thousands of lives.
The government is expected to publish its action plan to achieve its objective later this month.

However, advances in technology and medicine like HIV prevention drug PrEP have made significant strides in achieving the government’s ambition of no new HIV cases by 2030.

The HIV treatment drug means more than 9 in 10 people living with HIV cannot pass the virus on. Despite this, thousands of people are diagnosed but not on successful HIV treatment due to a lack of local support.

Recent independent analysis, verified by the House of Commons Library, has found that the £3.85m drop in public health funding for Portsmouth over the last five years equates to a real-terms cut of 17.5 per cent, or minus £20 per person in real-terms.

In 2021/22, the public health team (like all other public health teams in England) also took on responsibility for costs associated with the provision of the anti-HIV drug pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and services related to it, including sexual health.

For World Aids Day 2021, leading HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust is focusing the importance of HIV testing.

THT has also said testing is ‘key’ to ending HIV transmissions. More people are accessing HIV testing to find out their status and in new ways. But online testing is still not available all year round in every area, and over half a million people a year leave sexual health clinics not having had a HIV test, disproportionately women and black people.

Earlier this week, the Portsmouth MP met with local campaigners and pledged to continue to lobby government for improvements in access to local sexual health services and for better support for people living with HIV.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“40 years on from the beginning of this terrible epidemic, our country has made huge strides to tackle the harms of HIV, including drugs like PrEP which is now available on NHS.

“The ambition for no new HIV cases by 2030 is the right one, but we have a long way to go if we are to make it a reality, and testing will play a key role in doing so.

“That means government has got to properly fund community sexual health clinics with the support they need to boost HIV testing rates in communities, end the postcode lottery for treatment and stop UK HIV transmissions by 2030.”

The Portsmouth MP is set to meet and visit with local commissioners and sexual health providers in the new year to better understand local challenges and issues, including on HIV testing, following his roundtable this week.