A new campaign highlighting the four proven ways to prevent HIV has launched to mark World Aids Day (Tuesday 1 December). In the face of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the boroughs’ Do It London campaign reminds Londoners of the importance of HIV prevention and offers assurance that they can protect their health from HIV.
The ‘four sure’ methods of the combination prevention approach are: testing regularly for the virus; using condoms; using the HIV prevention medicine Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP); and, for people who have been diagnosed HIV positive, achieving an “undetectable” viral load through the use of antiretroviral medication. The latter safeguards the health of people diagnosed with HIV and has the additional benefit of treatment acting as prevention and eliminating the risk of onwards viral transmission.
HIV remains a major public health challenge in London. The latest figures show an estimated 37,000 Londoners are living with HIV. However, new diagnoses of HIV in London decreased by 5% in the last year (from 1,596 in 2018 to 1,510 in 2019) and by 41% since 2015 (from 2,536 in 2015 to 1,510 in 2019).
The Do It London campaign, run by London boroughs as part of their collaborative London HIV Prevention Programme (LHPP), seeks to accelerate this downturn in new infections by sharing the message that HIV is preventable, that an HIV diagnosis is treatable, and that treatment acts as prevention.
Cllr Damian White, London Councils’ Executive Member for Health & Care, said:
“Alongside our response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, boroughs are working together to tackle the capital’s other key public health challenges – including HIV.
“This campaign is a crucial reminder to Londoners to protect themselves against HIV using the ‘four sure’ methods. In recent years, London has made excellent progress in reducing HIV rates. We’re as determined as ever to maintain this momentum and to achieve our target of zero new diagnoses by 2030.”
Paul Steinberg, Lead Commissioner of the London HIV Prevention Programme, said:
“The huge advances in HIV testing, treatment and prevention in recent years have underpinned the encouraging reduction in new diagnoses in London. We have the scientific evidence of what works to prevent HIV, and this carefully planned new campaign will help inform our communities of the ongoing importance of combination prevention.
“In what’s been a challenging year we want to reassure Londoners that HIV is preventable, treatable and that treatment also acts as prevention.”
London is a world leader in the diagnosis and treatment of HIV. In 2019, London exceeded the UNAIDS 90-90-90 target for the second consecutive year, with 95% of people living with HIV being diagnosed, 98% of those diagnosed being on treatment and 97% of those on treatment having an undetectable viral load. Following last year’s Do It London campaign, which emphasised the impressive decrease in infections since 2015, this new campaign reiterates the continuing importance of maintaining London’s efforts to combat the virus, even in these unpredictable times.
As the new campaign highlights, the ‘four sure’ methods are scientifically proven and freely accessible ways to prevent HIV. The campaign’s target audiences will be reached using demographically tailored digital and social media, as well as specialist community channels and advertising platforms.
The new campaign will run across social, digital and community print media, as well as targeted radio advertising, from 1st December (World AIDS Day) until 28th February.
Visit www.doitlondon.org to discover more information about each method of prevention, how to access them and for direct links to sexual health services. The website also contains a new section about safer sex during the Covid-19 social restrictions.
Notes to Editors:
- Do It London is the public campaign of the London HIV Prevention Programme (LHPP), a unique partnership of 32 local authorities which is delivered on their behalf by Lambeth Council since 2014. For more information visit: www.doitlondon.org
Do It London launched in 2015 in response to rising rates of HIV infections in the capital since the turn of the century. London has since witnessed a major reduction in the number of people diagnosed with HIV and has set itself the target of ‘zero new HIV diagnoses by 2030’.
- PrEP is for people who are HIV negative but at high risk of infection, such as men who have sex with men, black African males & females, and people who have an HIV positive partner. Up-to-date guidance on how to access PrEP from the NHS following its recent routine commissioning (1 October 2020) can be found on our website: http://doitlondon.org/prep/
- Undetectable or U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable) means that people on effective HIV treatment end up having an undetectable viral load and cannot pass on/transmit the virus to their partners. This is aligned with a worldwide HIV awareness initiative known as “U=U”. For more information about the U=U initiative, visit https://www.preventionaccess.org/about
- HIV diagnoses data, including reductions in new diagnoses and diagnosis rates for London and England, come from Public Health England data. The latest report can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/hiv-annual-data-tables