Please allow me to assure you that every effort is being made to fight discrimination surrounding HIV and AIDS, and ensure that those affected can access the necessary treatments available to them. In particular, I know that treatment for HIV has continued throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
While I welcome the news that new HIV diagnoses across the UK fell by 15 per cent between 2017 and 2018, more remains to be done. That is why I support the Government’s commitment to stopping new HIV infections by 2030, through a National HIV and Sexual Health Promotion programme. Additionally, following the success of the NHS England funded three-year impact trial of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), for HIV prevention, I was delighted to learn that PrEP is becoming routinely available across England since March 2020, as part of the government's aim to end HIV transmission by 2030.
The funding from the Department of Health and Social Care will ensure anyone who is at a high risk of contracting HIV will receive PrEP from their local sexual health clinic to reduce their risk of getting the virus. NHS England will cover the costs of the drug and local authorities will be supported with £16 million funding to deliver services.
I welcome the Government’s continued work with charities such as the Terence Higgins Trust and the World AIDS Day initiative, in order to raise awareness of HIV and reach groups with the highest rates of the infection.
I also read with interest that the national lockdowns imposed may have had an impact in breaking the chain of transmission for HIV and I am hopeful that this may have a lasting impact on infection rates.
Finally, I have spoken with colleagues at HM Treasury about your suggestions for the Spending Review taking place this year. While I am regrettably not in a position to pre-empt the conclusions of the review, I am assured by my aforementioned colleagues that they are aware of the policy suggestions you raised. I look forward to the outcome of the Review, which will be announced in Parliament on 27th October.