The mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has unveiled a plan to end all new cases of HIV in the city region within 25 years.
Speaking at the Manchester Pride Candlelit Vigil, Mr Burnham announced that Greater Manchester is to join a global network of cities spearheading the fight against HIV.
The Fast Track Cities network will enable 250 cities from across the globe to take combined action against the virus, as well as share best practice and tackle discrimination.
In Greater Manchester more than 5,650 people are thought to be living with HIV and there are almost 300 new HIV diagnoses made every year.
The plan to end all new cases of HIV within three decades will be delivered by Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, which is responsible for health and care devolution.
The £1.3m programme includes encouraging the use of PrEP and PEP medication amongst the most at-risk groups and establishing new peer-led services and support tailored to individual needs.
It also includes substantially increasing screening and testing at home, in the community and through sexual health services.
‘Ending all new cases of HIV in Greater Manchester within a generation is an ambitious goal – but we can do it,’ said Mr Burnham.
‘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.
‘It also shows that we are taking a stand against stigma, instead standing shoulder to shoulder with people living with HIV.’
Lord Peter Smith, Chair of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership said: ‘Although great progress has been made in the fight against HIV, there is still much to do – both around the world and across our city-region.
‘Becoming a Fast Track City would be a great endorsement of our £1m ambition to eliminate new cases of HIV in Greater Manchester within a generation, and an important step towards realising this vision.’
LGBT Foundation deputy chief executive Rob Cookson, from the PaSH Partnership, described the desire to join the Fast Track Cities network as ‘amazing news’.
‘HIV is such an important issue for so many people,’ he said.
‘This now gives Greater Manchester the opportunity to create zero HIV infections and zero stigma.’