Keir Starmer, Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon vow to eradicate HIV while paying tribute to lives lost in AIDS crisis

Keir Starmer, Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon led tributes on World AIDS Day

Leaders from across UK political parties have reaffirmed their support for a target of eliminating HIV/AIDS transmissions within a decade, in messages marking World AIDS Day.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer led the tributes by welcoming the recommendations of the independent HIV Commission, which published a report on Tuesday (1 December) calling for a mass testing approach and a boost to public health funding in England to bring the virus under control.

Sir Keir Starmer and Boris Johnson vow to end HIV transmission on World AIDS Day

In a video message, Sir Keir said: “In the United Kingdom, there are more than 100,000 people who live with HIV. Every one of them deserves the best possible care and access to effective treatment to ensure that the virus can’t be passed on.

“But we’re at risk of progress slowing down. The rollout of the life changing drug PrEP hasn’t been quick enough, and more than 6,000 people with HIV are undiagnosed. Clearly we must do more.”

He continued: “Today, I’m really pleased to welcome the report by the HIV Commission… the Labour Party and I are absolutely committed to the goal of ending new HIV transmissions by 2030, there’s nothing stopping progress but political will.

“We have 10 years to beat this historic milestone, but not a minute to waste. So, on this World AIDS Day, we remember all those who’ve lost their lives in this epidemic and stand ready to end transmissions, once and for all.”

Meanwhile, prime minister Boris Johnson sent a tweet to mark the occasion, which reads: “On World AIDS Day we remember those who have died of AIDS and stand with those living with HIV today.

“Our aim is to end HIV transmission by 2030 and help better the lives of HIV+ people with quick access to antiretroviral therapies and the roll out of PrEP across the country.”

He stopped short of committing to the recommendations of the report, however.

Scotland commissions plan to reach 2030 target

Meanwhile, Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon marked World AIDS Day by commissioning her own plan to eliminate HIV transmission in the country by the 2030 target.

She said: “On this day, we remember all those who have lost their lives to the virus… but it’s clear that we still have a lot more to do.

“That’s why the Scottish government has commissioned work from leading HIV experts on how we can eliminate transmission by 2030.

“It’s why, through our NHS, we’re continuing to make the medication PrEP available to those most at risk. and it’s why we’re funding the development of an online self-sampling service, which will meet the process of getting tested for HIV, even easier.”

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey said: “This World AIDS Day, I’m pleased to welcome the launch of the independent HIV Commission’s final report and recommendations. The Liberal Democrats and I are strongly committed to the goal of ending new HIV transmissions by 2030.

“As the commission outlines, we must start by investing in public health and deal with the crisis of funding in sexual health services. We need to invest in local HIV treatment and prevention initiatives and ensure they address stigma, discrimination, and health inequalities.”

He continued: “The government doesn’t have a moment to lose, and should produce with urgency a HIV action plan, responding to the commission’s recommendations, outlining the plan to get to our shared 2030 goal of being the first country to end new HIV transmission.”