Mayor Marvin Rees will sign an official declaration on World AIDS Day at a special event held at the Watershed on Saturday 30 November, to make Bristol a Fast Track City - joining only a handful of other UK cities.
The Fast Track Cities initiative is a world-wide movement towards achieving zero new HIV infections and zero AIDS-related deaths by 2030.
Mayor Marvin Rees said he was proud that Bristol will become a Fast Track City.
He said: “We have made great strides in reducing the number of new HIV infections in our city, and in supporting people living with HIV, but we know that there are big challenges ahead.
“We will work to increase HIV testing in our under-served and marginalised communities, reduce our late diagnosis rate and tackle HIV-related stigma and discrimination across the city.
“By adopting the Fast Track Cities Initiative’s principles in Bristol and pioneering a One City approach to tackle health inequalities, I am confident that we can rise to this challenge and end new HIV infections by 2030.”
This event is the culmination of a series of special celebrations across Bristol aimed at raising awareness and reducing the stigma of HIV.
HIV prevalence in the UK is increasing, but this is primarily due to people living with HIV for longer due to effective treatment now being available. However, new transmissions are occurring, with late diagnosis being the most important predictor of poor health outcomes among those living with HIV making early diagnosis vital.
To mark the start of National HIV Testing Week (15 November) the Red Ribbon flag was raised outside City Hall by the Lord Mayor of Bristol, Councillor Jos Clark, who was joined by representatives of local HIV support charity, Brigstowe, and the Terrence Higgins Trust.
Aled Osborne, Fundraising Manager for Brigstowe said it is an exciting time for Bristol as the Mayor signs the Fast Track City declaration.
He said: “We need to remove the stigma surrounding HIV and sexual health testing. HIV has changed dramatically and is no longer a death sentence. People living with HIV on effective treatment cannot pass the virus on to their sexual partners. By working together to get this message out to the public, we can help reduce the stigma and discrimination that people living with HIV still face.”
As part of the national, Give HIV the Finger campaign, Mayor Rees had an HIV test to help raise awareness that HIV is not only an LGBTQ+ issue and show that the finger-prick procedure is simple and quick. HIV testing is always confidential and you can even order a self-testing kit to do at home from the Bristol’s sexual health service Unity: http://bit.ly/33ivRk1.
The Bristol City Council Public Health Team and HIV organisations say the key message is that it is much healthier and safer to know you have HIV and be on medication which makes it undetectable and untransmittable, than not know and pass it on.
Notes for Editors
Fast Track Cities
The Fast-Track Cities initiative is a global partnership between cities and municipalities around the world and four core partners – the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), and the City of Paris.
Launched on World AIDS Day 2014, the network has grown to include more than 300 cities and municipalities that are committed to attain the UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets by 2030: 95% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status; 95% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy (ART); and 95% of all HIV-diagnosed people receiving sustained ART will achieve viral suppression. Achieving zero stigma is the initiative’s fourth, but no less important, target.
Mayors and other city/municipal officials designate their cities as Fast-Track Cities by signing the Paris Declaration on Fast-Track Cities, which outlines a set of commitments to achieve the initiative's objectives and a trajectory towards getting to zero new HIV infections and zero AIDS-related deaths.
Grounded in the principle of data transparency, the initiative includes a Fast-Track Cities Global Web Portal that allows cities to report on their progress against the fast-track and other targets.