Labour commits to new HIV Action Plan in election manifesto

Graham Robson June 13, 2024

The Labour Party has announced it would “commission a new HIV Action Plan in England, in pursuit of ending HIV cases by 2030” in their General Election manifesto. The announcement follows Tory commitments to ending new HIV cases by 2030 and justice for those impacted by the Infected Blood Scandal.

HIV/sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust says a new HIV Action Plan for England is “essential” in achieving the Government’s ambition to end new HIV cases by 2030. The current HIV Action Plan is due to expire in 2025 — as it stands, the UK are not on track to meet the necessary target of reducing new transmissions by 80% within 12 months. The charity affirms that a new HIV Action Plan is “exactly what is needed.”

The UK Government released Towards Zero: the HIV Action Plan for England in 2021 on World AIDS Day 2021, setting out its priorities to end new HIV transmissions between 2022 and 2025. The plan came with £20 million of funding over three years (2022 to 2025) to expand HIV opt out testing in emergency departments.

Leader of the Labour Party Keir Starmer laid out what a renewed HIV Action Plan would look on World AIDS Day last year, when he committed to his party developing a new plan within 100 days of taking office. Speaking at the World AIDS Day parliamentary reception in November 2023, he said: “A Labour government led by me will not waste any time in meeting the 2030 goal.

“My shadow Health Secretary, formerly of the HIV Commission, is champing at the bit to get started and I promise you today, a Labour government will not wait. We will start the process of developing a new HIV Action Plan within 100 days of taking office. There cannot be a moment spared.” Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting served on the HIV Commission which provided the roadmap to ending HIV transmissions in the UK by 2030.

Richard Angell

Richard Angell, Chief Executive at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “With just one parliament left to deliver the UK’s commitment to end new HIV cases by 2030, this important commitment in the Labour Party’s manifesto of a new HIV Action Plan in England to ensure we do not miss this historic opportunity is excellent news.

“The government’s current HIV Action Plan expires next year, which is why today’s announcement from Labour is exactly what is needed. Ending new cases of HIV in the UK by 2030 is possible but not probable –  a renewed HIV Action Plan which is bold and ambitious is essential to us achieving this historic goal.

“We are clear on what this new plan needs to include – increasing HIV testing, expanding PrEP access and ensuring everyone living with HIV gets the care they need. In two years, the opt-out HIV testing in A&Es programme has found more than 5,000 people with HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis in just four cities, and soon 47 more hospitals across England will be testing thanks to an expansion this year.

“This pioneering programme is essential to halting HIV transmission in the UK. Waiting times for PrEP average more than 12 weeks and 14,000 diagnosed people are not taking their medication. To be the generation of MPs to end the HIV epidemic and a government that makes it happen in office, we have to turn this around. Get it right and we could be the first country in the world to end new HIV cases. What a legacy that would be.”