Health secretary renews UK pledge
The Health & Social Care Secretary has announced a pledge to end new HIV transmissions in the UK by 2030. Speaking at the AIDSfree Cities Global Forum last week, Matt Hancock set out plans to achieve the government’s goal through better prevention, detection and treatment. As the government sets out on its landmark target, Your Sexual Health take a look at a few of the areas that will need improvement.
More public funding
The government has pledged an extra £600,000 to Public Health England’s innovation fund, the aim of which is to find community driven ways to prevent the spread of HIV. The initiatives that are supported throughout the scheme have proved a great success for informing those in at risk groups, but they have occurred amidst a number of cuts to the public health sector. Without increased spending on public sexual health services these schemes will be fighting a difficult battle.
Improved access to preventative treatments
The revolutionary PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) drug has been clinically proven to greatly reduce the risk of catching HIV following exposure to the virus. However, it’s yet to be fully rolled out on the NHS. Currently the government are doing a limited trials amongst at risk groups to discover its overall impact on HIV transmission rates. So far the trial seems to be successful and pressure groups have argued that the drug should be made more readily available in order to reach as many people as possible.
Early Detection testing
Standard HIV tests offered by the NHS are only accurate from 28 days following exposure. This wait time can cause more people to be exposed to the virus in the meantime, whilst the carrier is unaware that they have HIV. Tests are available that offer early detection of HIV just 10 days after exposure, but until these are available on the NHS people will continue to unknowingly spread the virus.
More sexual health clinics
Government cuts have reduced the amount of sexual health clinics in the UK leaving a vast amount of people under served. Often, areas that do have a clinic struggle to meet the demand. In order to reduce HIV transmission rates, testing needs to be more readily available with more clinics located across the UK.
Your Sexual Health have over 60 private sexual health clinics located across the UK, all of which allow you to book an appointment in order to reduce waiting times.
Education to reduce the stigma surrounding the disease
A prevention first approach to public health has seen an increase to sex education classes in schools. Although classes encouraging more general STI testing is a positive step, many organisations believe that more needs to be done to educate about HIV itself in a bid to reduce stigma. It’s this stigma that prevents many people from being tested against the virus regularly.