Tackling HIV… Mayor Andy Burnham’s £1million pledge as Manchester joins Fast-Track Cities initiative

Great Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham unveiled a £1million plan to prevent new infections of HIV in Manchester in the next 25 years at the candlelit vigil which closed Gay Pride 2018.

The GM Mayor announced Manchester would be joining the Fast-Track Cities network, a group of 250 cities across the globe with higher than average rates of infection, committed to stamping out HIV.

The initiative is led by Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, the body responsible for health and care devolution.

Andy Burnham said: “We are doing ground-breaking work in Greater Manchester to tackle HIV, and by joining Fast-Track Cities we will be part of a global network of cities committed to ending HIV where we can share expertise and speak with a united worldwide voice.”

Deputy CEO of LGBT Foundation, Rob Cookson, said: “HIV is such an important issue for so many people. This now gives Greater Manchester the opportunity to create zero HIV infections and zero stigma.”

The plan will be implemented later this year and measures include providing PEP and PREP for the most at risk groups; peer led services and tailored support for individuals; increasing home screening and maximising prompt effective treatment; challenging the stigma around HIV and addressing the social and cultural barriers for accessing help and support; promoting safe sex practices.

HIV rates in the UK are at their lowest for 18 years, with a 17% reduction in diagnoses last year, and number have gone down by a quarter since 2015.

However, in the Greater Manchester area the infection rate per 1000 is higher than the national average: three times higher in Manchester and nearly double in Salford.

The announcement fitting at an event meant to commemorate those who have lost their lives to HIV and AIDS, a collaboration between Manchester Pride and George House Trust.

Image courtesy of George House Trust via Twitter, with thanks.

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