Leaders from across Greater Manchester have today reaffirmed their commitment to ending all new transmissions of HIV within a generation.
Earlier this year, the Mayor of Greater Manchester set out the bold ambition to end all new cases of HIV in Greater Manchester residents in the next 25 years.
To coincide with World AIDS Day, the leaders of Greater Manchester’s 10 local authorities came together with key local stakeholders, people living with HIV and Jose M. Zuniga, the President of the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care to reaffirm this commitment as a global leader in the fight against HIV.
A £1.3 million investment from the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership will scale up testing opportunities, provide enhanced services that enable people to take charge of their sexual health and plan a safer and enjoyable sex life, and ensure those who test positive for HIV receive treatment and support they need.
The work to tackle HIV in the city-region is being undertaken with the help of a number of partners, including the Greater Manchester Sexual Health Network and The PaSH (Passionate About Sexual Health) Partnership. Steps already taken include a new Manchester GP HIV champion who is working closely with the system.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, said: “We have set ourselves the ambitious goal of ending all new cases of HIV in Greater Manchester within a generation and it is really encouraging to have so many of us together to show our commitment to the cause.
Being tested is quick and painless, and something that no-one should feel any fear about doing, and I would urge anyone who can, to take the opportunity to get tested themselves.
Sarah Price, executive lead for population health in Greater Manchester, said: “Our £1 million ambition to eliminate new cases of HIV in Greater Manchester within a generation is now being shaped. Both substantially increasing and simplifying testing is a vital part of our approach. This will ensure we can provide prompt and effective treatment for all those who need it, and hopefully decrease the significant numbers of people living with HIV but unaware of their positive status. It can also hopefully help prevent late diagnosis when the impacts and risks are greatest”.
This year marks the 30th annual World Aids Day. World Aids Day was the first ever annual global health day.
As a Fast Track City, Greater Manchester has joined more than 250 other cities across the world to take combined action, share best practice and tackle HIV related stigma and discrimination. This will allow the authorities in the city-region to support a global approach by engaging city political, health and social care leaders, as well as city institutions not traditionally involved in testing or treatment.
Greater Manchester has signed up to the initiatives’ 90-90-90 targets, where 90 per cent of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90 per cent of people diagnosed are on treatment and 90 per cent of people on treatment are virally suppressed. A suppressed viral load means that someone who is HIV positive can become undetectable, and therefore cannot transmit HIV to someone who is HIV negative. This is also known as treatment as prevention and U=U. Greater Manchester has also committed to having zero discrimination and stigma by 2020.
Dr Orla McQuillan, Clinical Co-chair of Greater Manchester Sexual Health Network, said: “The commitment from Mayor Andy Burnham and Council leaders today to move forward both financially and politically with the ambitious targets of ending new cases of HIV within a generation is a vital step in our battle to control HIV infection.
“The additional commitment to join the international Fast-Track Cities project puts Greater Manchester at the forefront of the battle to diagnose HIV, treat infections effectively and reduce stigma by 2020. This will prevent more people being infected while also improving the health and wellbeing of those living with HIV within Greater Manchester ”
Rob Cookson, from the PaSH Partnership and Deputy Chief Executive of the LGBT Foundation, said: “It is brilliant news that HIV is an established priority for Greater Manchester. Joining Fast-Track Cities is the perfect fit with our ambitions to end all new transmissions of HIV in Greater Manchester residents within a generation.
Around 745 people are thought to be living with HIV in Greater Manchester but unaware of their positive status. Community-led solutions and working in partnership are key to ending both new transmissions of HIV and stigma.
Dr. José Zuniga, President/CEO of the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC), said: “We welcome Greater Manchester to the network of Fast Track Cities in every region of the world that are committed to ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
“Your goal to eliminate new HIV cases within a generation will require precisely the type of political will and the active engagement of local stakeholders, notably people living with and affected by HIV, that we are witnessing in Greater Manchester this World AIDS Day.”
On World AIDS Day, crowds will gather at 7pm in Sackville Park at the Beacon of Hope – the UK’s national HIV memorial – for a vigil and procession.
The UNAIDS theme for this year’s World AIDS Day is ‘know your status’ and we are encouraging people to take up the increased opportunities to get tested.
Free dry blood spot home sampling kits can be ordered online by Greater Manchester residents at www.thenorthernsexualhealth.co.uk