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London aiming to stop HIV infections for good

London has announced new partnerships with an ambition to become the first city in the world to stop new HIV infections and make preventable deaths from HIV a thing of the past.

The collaborations, to the tune of £1 million, will allow more HIV testing, ensuring more people with HIV stay on treatment and supporting more people with HIV to live well.

The funding, which comes from NHS England and NHS Improvement London, will be used for the new three-year commitment to an innovative collaboration across 22 not for profit organisations and nine NHS Trusts. They will work together as an improvement community to deliver 12 projects, which will be tailored to meet the needs of particularly vulnerable or complex groups including people who are homeless, people struggling with loneliness or social isolation, migrants, people with substance misuse issues, older women who are living with HIV and people from black and minority ethnic populations.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Kahn, says he is “proud” of the way London is leading the HIV battle, going on to say “We’re committed to ending the transmission of HIV by 2030 and tackling the stigma associated with it, and we continue to share our progress with other cities across the world through the Fast-Track Cities partnership.

“I’m pleased that this new funding will help to extend our work and I will continue to push for Londoners to be able to access the prevention, treatment and support they need.”

In January it was reported that among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, the prevalence of HIV transmission has fallen by a staggering 71%.

The number has fallen from an estimated 2,800 transmissions in 2012 to 800 in 2018, and the number of men living undiagnosed with HIV has halved since 2014 from an estimated 7,000 to 3,600 in 2018.

HIV testing has greatly increased over the past decade. In 2018, however, an estimated 7,500 people were living with HIV and were unaware of this, and two in five of those diagnosed in 2018 were diagnosed at a late stage. Late stage infections have more than a ten-fold increased risk of death in the year following diagnosis compared to those who are diagnosed early and begin treatment immediately.

Public Health England reminds the public that getting tested for HIV has never been easier, with free tests available through sexual health clinics, GP surgeries, as well as through a self-sampling service or by using a self-testing kit