Brighton and Hove’s three MPs have welcomed the news that the city could be a pilot for a new HIV testing regime which would normalise HIV testing in the community with the aim of reaching zero new transmissions by 2030.
Jo Churchill, the health minister, has replied to a letter proposing Brighton and Hove as a pilot city, which was signed by the city’s three MPs, Caroline Lucas, Lloyd Russell-Moyle and Peter Kyle, alongside the leader of Brighton Council, Phelim MacCafferty.
Health minister said she had asked Department of Health officials to look at the offer and was keen to work with areas like Brighton and Hove to learn from the city’s pioneering approach to prevention, testing and reducing late diagnosis of HIV. Next, the MPs plan to invite her to the city to see what is being done locally to combat HIV infections.
Brighton’s three MPs and Cllr MacCafferty believe Brighton and Hove is the perfect place for a pilot because it was the first city in the UK to have ‘HIV Fast Track City’ status, and has some of the best online testing services in the country. The city also pioneered HIV test vending machines and has supported a number of community testing initiatives, including National HIV Testing Week.
Currently, the plan is to roll out HIV testing even further, to make it available when people attend A&E, register for a new GP and in local pharmacies.
Caroline Lucas MP said: “Our city is a national leader in driving down HIV infections, not least because MPs, the council and local public health teams have worked together on this. We want to share our experiences with others, and we’re also ready to do more. I’m glad the minister seems prepared to work with us towards ending new cases of HIV by 2030 in England.”
Cllr Phélim Mac Cafferty, leader of Brighton & Hove City Council said: “Outstanding progress has already been made in the city to increase testing and fight HIV-related stigma. This is typified by the recent installation of a vending machine with free STI tests in the Jubilee Library.
“Normalising HIV testing across health services is the next step. We are eager to get this pilot underway as we know Brighton & Hove is well placed to be one of the first cities to make it happen.”
“That’s because in addition to strong, continued commitment to support people living with HIV, we are proud to be the host of some of the best HIV support, treatment, and prevention services and community organisations in the country. They’ve been running for many years and working in strong collaboration with our communities and public health teams.
“An important next step in supporting our communities is to achieve our shared aims for zero HIV infections, zero HIV stigma and zero HIV related deaths.”