CHIVA responds to the Government’s new HIV Action Plan
Chiva welcomes the Government’s new HIV Action Plan published today which commits to investing over £23 million in HIV services. This is good progress but in order to reach the target of ending new HIV infections by 2030, these commitments must be delivered for all groups, including children, young people and their families.
We are pleased to see that HIV testing will be opt-out in hospital emergency departments in areas of the country which have higher rates of HIV. There has already been huge success from opt-out testing in maternity care which has resulted in the dramatic reduction of vertical transmission of HIV and has normalised HIV testing in this setting. Tackling stigma is essential to reaching the HIV Action Plan’s target.
Plans to ensure early identification of HIV infection are welcome and in addition to partner testing, the testing of children should not be forgotten.
It is encouraging to see that the plan will prioritise support for people living with HIV, particularly for those living with complex needs, to ensure that treatment is maintained. Young people move into adult care with quite different needs and experiences of HIV compared to adults who have acquired HIV later in life and the specific needs of children and young people living with HIV need to be addressed, in order to support and maintain engagement in clinical care throughout their whole lives.
The plan’s objective to improve quality of life and NHS training to tackle HIV stigma are also very encouraging. We need to be moving beyond viral suppression as the only marker of success in treatment and care of HIV. For young people, a holistic approach to care and support is critical to address the intersecting adversities often experienced by this group and the complexity that HIV brings to many family contexts.
Chiva will be monitoring progress and ensuring that the needs of children and young people living with HIV are prioritised across HIV services.