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Sir Elton John and It's a Sin stars join calls to end new HIV diagnoses by 2030

"It doesn't have to be this way. I'm asking you to seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to change countless lives."

2021-10-13

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Terrence Higgins Trust

Sir Elton John, Russell T Davies, Olly Alexander and Callum Scott Howells have joined calls for the UK Government to prevent new diagnoses of the virus by 2030. 

In a short video for the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), the stars call on the UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the Health Secretary Sajid Javid to further commit to an already stated 2030 target.

It follows a recent campaign launched by the Trust, alongside the National AIDS Trust and the Elton John AIDS Foundation urging the Chancellor to commit funding in his next Spending Review, scheduled to happen on 27 October. 

"Seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity"

Addressing the politicians, John states that every week in the UK, 80 lives are changed by HIV. Davies adds that despite medical advancements in the field that mean HIV is not the death sentence it once was, preventable cases are still happening. 

"It doesn't have to be this way," says the writer. "I'm asking you to seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to change countless lives."

Years & Years frontman Alexander, who starred in Davies hit Aids drama It's A Sin earlier this year, reads that at least 6,600 people in the UK are living with the virus undiagnosed. 

Welshman Callum recounts how the government promised to "build back better" following the COVID-19 pandemic, adding: "Now is the time to do this to end HIV."

HIV charities have called for expanded free at-home testing all year round, for more testing for HIV in hospitals and A&E, more support for those living with HIV, greater investment in treatments such as PrEP, and also to raise awareness of vital messages such as U=U (undetectable equals untransmittable) and tackle stigma. 

Finally, Alexander urges the government again to "fund the fight".

In September, Attitude spoke to the THT's Richard Angell ahead of the launch of the call for the Chancellor to commit funding to the 2030 target. He said the goal was achievable and missing out on it would be a "moral failing" of the government. 

"If we get this right, we could be the first country in the world to end new transmissions of HIV. We have all the tools available. We know what to do. But we need an uptick in support. The Chancellor could provide a relatively small amount of funds to help us end an epidemic that has been raging for four decades. Together we can do something quite historic," said Angell.

Sunak did commit to meeting the 2030 goal in a speech in the House of Commons on World Aids Day last year.

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