New independent HIV Commission to end HIV transmissions in England by 2030 launches with Government endorsement

A new independent commission to develop evidence-based recommendations to end HIV transmissions and HIV-attributed deaths in England within the next 10 year has been launched.

The HIV Commission has been created by the UK’s leading HIV charities, Terrence Higgins Trust and NAT (National AIDS Trust). It will be chaired by Dame Inga Beale, the former CEO of Lloyd’s of London. 

The year-long independent commission is backed by the UK Government. It will host a series of community events, a public online consultation, and a national call for evidence from those directly impacted by HIV.

The HIV Commission will publish its recommendations next spring, which the Government has committed to review as part of its commitment to publish an action plan to meet its target to end new HIV transmissions by 2030. 

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock MP set the goal last January for England to become one of the first countries in the world to reach the UN zero-infections target. The Government will convene an expert group to develop an action plan to end new HIV transmissions after it receives the HIV Commission’s recommendations.

Dame Inga will be supported by a team of high-profile commissioners passionate about preventing HIV. The commission will also be backed by an advisory group of HIV treatment and prevention experts from Public Health England, local government, and the clinical and voluntary sectors. 

The commissioners so far are:

  • Dr. Rob Berkeley, Founder and Managing Editor at BlkOutUK.com,
  • Steve Brine MP, MP for Winchester and Chandler’s Ford and former Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health and Primary Care,
  • Rev. Steve Chalke, British Baptist minister, Founder of the Oasis Charitable Trust, former United Nations’ Special Adviser on Human Trafficking and a social activist,
  • Joshua Graff, UK Country Manager & Vice President EMEA & LATAM at LinkedIn,
  • Dr. Richard Horton, Editor-In-Chief of The Lancet,
  • Mercy Shibemba, HIV campaigner and winner of the inaugural Diana Award,
  • Prof. Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Founding Executive Director of UNAIDS and Under Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1995 until 2008,
  • Alison Saunders, Dispute Resolution Partner at Linklaters and former Director of Public Prosecutions and Head of the Crown Prosecution Service, and 
  • Wes Streeting MP, Member of Parliament for Ilford North.

Increased and frequent HIV testing, swift treatment for those diagnosed with HIV, continued high rates of condom use, and HIV prevention pill PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) have contributed to a 28% drop in new HIV diagnoses in the UK from 6,095 in 2015 to 4,363 in 2017. 

This creates an opportunity in which the end to new HIV transmissions is possible. Action is needed to ensure progress is made in all affected communities, and to tackle the significant discrimination and stigma faced by people living with HIV when accessing health care, in the workplace, and even their own families.

Seema Kennedy MP, Minister for Public Health and Primary Care, said: 

“We are determined to eradicate HIV transmissions in England by 2030 and we must find new, innovative and progressive ways of doing so. I welcome this new commission which will speak to people who are living with HIV and learn about their personal experiences, an important part of finding new ways to end HIV for good.”

Dame Inga Beale, Chair of the HIV Commission, said: 

“We have a unique opportunity to end new HIV transmission in England. We will develop evidence-based recommendations to make this happen within a decade.

“The preventative tools we have are working to reduce HIV transmission in many parts of the country. The commission will look at what we need to do to build on this progress to stop HIV in its tracks for everyone.

“We will be working with experts from the science and public health communities, and drawing on the expertise and experience of people living with HIV, businesses, the voluntary sector and the public to develop a credible way to make England the first country in the world to achieve this ambition.

“This is a big challenge, but it’s one we can achieve if we harness the resources and capability that has made the UK a pioneer in HIV prevention, treatment and support for nearly 40 years.”

Ian Green, Chief Executive at Terrence Higgins Trust, said:

“In the 1980s and early 1990s an HIV diagnosis was a death sentence, but now we’re aiming to end new HIV transmissions in England over the next 10 years. That’s incredible progress by anyone’s standards but we need a clear plan for achieving this ambitious target if we’re to make it a reality. That’s why we’ve worked hard to assemble an exceptional group of people to map out the journey we need to take.”

Deborah Gold, Chief Executive at NAT (National AIDS Trust), said: 

“It’s a testament to the phenomenal progress we’ve made in our fight against HIV that we’re able to conceive bringing an end to new transmissions in England within a generation. To get there we must find ways of tackling the appalling levels of stigma surrounding HIV, and significantly increase the reach of HIV-testing and other prevention activities. 

“Our story of progress has been one of communities working together: people living with HIV, charities, Government, health services, doctors and nurses, business, faith leaders. An independent commission – bringing together leaders from across society – is the right way to launch the next, and hopefully last, phase in this fight.”

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