UK Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has set a goal to end new HIV transmissions in the country by 2030 through improved prevention, detection and treatment of the disease.
The initiative will receive funding of £600,000 from Public Health England’s HIV Prevention Innovation Fund. These funds will be provided to 13 new UK schemes that aim to reduce the risk of people being infected with HIV.
An expert group will also be created particularly for this project to develop an action plan focused on preventing the disease and formulating measures for people who are at risk of infection.
Hancock said: “Today we’re setting a new goal: eradicating HIV transmission in England by 2030. No new infections within the next decade. Becoming one of the first countries to reach the UN zero-infections target by 2030. From the ultra-local to the truly global. That’s the approach we must take to eliminate AIDS.”
HIV infection results in progressive deterioration of the immune system. Statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that the infection caused more than 35 million deaths globally.
Of the approximately 36.9 million people living with the disease at the end of 2017, 940,000 died due to HIV-related causes. Furthermore, 1.8 million people were newly infected with the virus that year.
The UK has been fighting the epidemic by providing antiretroviral treatment to diagnosed patients; over the past few years, the country is said to have experienced a 28% drop in new cases.
HIV testing has also been increased by 15% from 2013 to 2017 in order to minimise the number of people who living with HIV but are unaware and could transmit the virus.
The UK is also making efforts to stop HIV outside the country. The government has invested £1.2bn in the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.
Furthermore, the government is working to boost access to HIV and AIDS care as well as treatment for those who require the most in Nairobi, Kenya and Maputo, Mozambique.
The initiative to end HIV transmissions follows the UK Government’s recent plan to fight antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the country by 2040.