On World AIDS Day, the Government announced its ambitious plans to reduce HIV infection over the next 8 years

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The Government has launched a new HIV action plan, supported by over £23 million of funding, which aims to reduce new infections by 80% by 2025 and end infections and deaths in England by 2030.

The action plan, Towards zero: the HIV action plan for England—2022 to 2025, was developed with the help of the HIV Oversight Group, chaired by Dame Inga Beale, and launched to mark World AIDS Day on 1 December 2021.

To progress towards the 2030 goal of having no new HIV infections and no AIDS- and HIV-related deaths in England, this new HIV action plan provides more detail on the interim targets that will be met by 2025:

  • to reduce the number of people first diagnosed in England from 2860 in 2019 to under 600 in 2025
  • to reduce the number of people diagnosed with AIDS within 3 months of HIV diagnosis from 219 to under 110 in 2025
  • to reduce deaths from HIV/AIDS in England from 230 in 2019 to under 115 in 2025.

To achieve these targets, the Government aims to:

  • prevent new infections by increasing access to pre-exposure prophylaxis for key groups and expanding and improving proven HIV-prevention activities, with investments of £3.5 million going into a National HIV Prevention Programme from 2021–2024 
  • scale up HIV testing in high-risk populations where uptake is low to ensure new infections are identified rapidly. This will include expanding opt-out testing in emergency departments, backed by an additional £20 million over the next 3 years
  • ensure that diagnosed people rapidly receive treatment to stop onward transmission and achieve optimal long-term health outcomes, while also supporting everyone living with HIV to stay in treatment.

The Government said that its current HIV prevention methods are working—there has been a 35% reduction in new HIV diagnoses in England between 2014 and 2019, one of the highest decreases worldwide.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS National Medical Director, said: ‘Excellent progress has been made to increase diagnoses in key groups, in particular with gay and bisexual men, which has meant that new HIV diagnoses in this group fell from a peak of 2980 in 2014 to 1890 in 2018, and fell even lower to 1580 diagnosed in 2019. This is a 47% and 16% drop, respectively.’

The action plan will set out how to maintain this progress, as well as improve diagnosis for high-risk groups—particularly Black Africans, who remain the ethnic group with the highest rate of HIV.

Commenting on the new plan, the Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: ‘We will end new HIV infections in England by the end of the decade.

‘We’ve made excellent progress already, with transmissions continuing to fall across England, and we are well on our way towards our ambition of zero HIV transmissions and deaths by 2030.’

This article originally appeared on Medscape, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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