Banner image with text: 'One Parliament left to end new cases of HIV by 2030. The HIV and Sexual Health Manifesto for the General Election' with Terrence Higgins Trust logo and silhouette of Parliament with '2030: HIV time's up!' across the clock face of Big Ben.

When Terry Higgins died 40 years ago, the virus didn’t even have a name, there wasn’t a test for HIV, let alone any treatment. Now, people living with HIV on effective treatment can have a normal life expectancy and can’t pass it on.

It could never have been envisaged by our founders, but now we are in a position to end new HIV cases, and do it by 2030. The next government must do all in its power to make that possibility a reality. Every parliamentarian elected on 4 July 2024 will have a role to play in making this happen.

While progress has been made – PrEP free on the NHS, opt-out testing across the highest prevalence parts of the country and the rolling back of stigmatising laws – every day we are missing chances to make that goal a reality. 

Waiting times for PrEP average more than 12 weeks. You are more likely than not to be turned away from a sexual health clinic if you want an appointment and don’t have symptoms. It’s impossible to get a postal HIV and STI test in some parts of the country. 14,000 diagnosed people are not taking their medication. Health inequalities that have always been part of this epidemic run deeper than ever. 

To end new HIV cases, we have to turn this around.

This must start with the progress we report against the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets. The second ‘90’ is wrong and lulling us into a false sense of security. Getting this right is the way we start to end the ‘lost to care’ crisis in HIV treatment and make the progress set out in the enclosed six-point-plan agreed by the HIV sector. 

This is the last parliamentary term if our leaders are serious about ending this epidemic. An HIV Action Plan to meet the 2030 goal must be commissioned within the first 100 days of a new government and published within a year.

Get it right and we could be the first country in the world to end new HIV cases. And it would be the first time in history that we have stopped the onward transmission of any virus without a vaccine or a cure. What a legacy that would be.

For Terry, for everyone we have lost and for everyone living well with HIV today, it is our duty to make it happen.

Richard Angell is Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust