GREATER MANCHESTER LAUNCHES NEW CAMPAIGN IN AMBITIOUS BID TO END ALL NEW CASES OF HIV
The PaSH Partnership (BHA for Equality, George House Trust and LGBT Foundation) has launched a new campaign across Greater Manchester as the city region steps up efforts to end all new transmissions of HIV.
The campaign features images and real-life stories from a broad range of Greater Manchester residents with a simple message: ‘HIV: Let’s sort this together’. It aims to inspire everyone to take steps to help end HIV transmission rates, which are currently higher in the city region than the national average.
The campaign, which focuses on a ‘Test, Manage, Prevent’ message, encourages people to take regular HIV tests, and manage the possible risks of HIV transmission during sex. For people living with HIV, the campaign highlights the fact that effective treatment means that HIV cannot be passed on through sex, a fact now universally recognised as ‘U=U’ (Undetectable = Untransmittable).
The website SortHIV.org.uk is being launched, giving details about the different ways to test for HIV – including home testing and testing in local community spaces. It provides advice on access to condoms, PrEP, and PEP which are medications that help to prevent HIV transmission.
Jim Kemp, who is part of the campaign, said: “As a man living with HIV, I feel that it is important that we start a conversation about HIV and prevention. Talking about it openly is the only way that we can break the stigma that surrounds the topic. This campaign is really a step forward in terms of promoting HIV testing, prevention and management and it is a campaign that I am really excited to be involved with.”
It is estimated that there are more than 5,900 people across Greater Manchester who are living with HIV – a percentage of the regional population which is higher than the national average and which, in some boroughs, is more than double the national rate. In addition, an estimated 745 people in Greater Manchester are unaware that they are living with HIV.
In 2018, there were over 250 diagnoses of HIV in the city region. Almost half (42.7%) of these are late diagnoses, meaning that treatment is potentially costlier and less likely to be effective.
The Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership has invested £1.3 million in an ambitious programme of action and support, developed and delivered in collaboration with local organisations and communities. In conjunction with the new campaign, this includes up scaling HIV testing, establishing new services, and support tailored to individual needs.
Greater Manchester is part of the Fast-Track Cities Network, having joined more than 250 other cities around the world, leading the way by taking combined action, sharing best practice and tackling HIV related stigma and discrimination.
As a Fast-Track City region, Greater Manchester is committed to ensuring that 90% of all people living with HIV are diagnosed, 90% of people diagnosed are on treatment, and 90% of people on treatment have an undetectable viral load, meaning that HIV cannot be passed on. Eighteen months after announcing its Fast-Track City ambitions, the city region has surpassed these initial targets.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “A significant number of people in Greater Manchester still receive an HIV diagnosis every year. It’s been clear to me that further action is needed. I am pleased that this new campaign is driving things further forward, led by the people and communities who are affected and most able to bring about the change. We are proud to be one of the global Fast-Track Cities committed to meeting the UNAIDS targets for better diagnosis, treatment, and prevention, and are working with partners throughout our communities to end new transmissions and end stigma once and for all.”
Jeff Ukiri, Community Engagement and Development Worker at BHA for Equality, said “There is a real need to intensify our approach to ensuring that people test regularly for HIV since many are still not aware of the importance of early testing as a preventative measure. We need to strengthen our awareness-raising efforts, effectively targeting the most at-risk populations. With treatment such as PREP and PEP, our discussions are more interesting as they can form part of the initial conversation to encourage people to test.”