The Committee has recommended the following:  

  • The Scottish Government should take urgent steps to address HIV stigma by developing a comprehensive training programme for healthcare and public sector workers to include up to date information on HIV, dispelling common misconceptions and emphasising the importance of individual care and empathy
  • The Scottish Government should fund innovative ways for rural communities to access specialist HIV care while maintaining privacy and anonymity
  • The Scottish Government should build on the landmark HIV anti-stigma campaign delivered in partnership by Terrence Higgins Trust and the Scottish Government
  • Developments on HIV treatment should be incorporated into the school curriculum as part of broader sex education provision
  • The Scottish Government should work with the third sector to improve PrEP awareness and access for underserved populations including women, transgender individuals, people who use drugs and minority ethnic communities
  • The Scottish Government should explore the cost, aims and benefits of a National HIV Testing Week for Scotland
  • The Scottish Government should provide an update to Parliament on progress made to improve data collection

Scotland’s long-awaited HIV Transmission Elimination Delivery Plan was published in March 2024, setting out a route map for ending new transmission of HIV in Scotland by 2030. Commitments included actions to combat HIV stigma, pilot projects to expand access to PrEP, and the introduction of opt-out HIV and blood borne virus testing in emergency departments.

Noting that the Delivery Plan was “regrettably” not published ahead of the inquiry, the Committee has committed to holding a follow-up session in 2025 to review the progress of the Plan.

Alan Eagleson, Head of Scotland Services at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “We welcome the Scottish Parliament Equalities Committee’s recommendations – we’re delighted to have played a part in this important work to ensure Scotland achieves its goal of ending new HIV cases by 2030 and eradicating stigma. Terrence Higgins Trust would like to thank the Committee for their interest in this area, our partners in the sector, and the individuals who shared their experiences of living with HIV.

The evidence provided from this inquiry shows that Scotland is at risk of falling behind in our mission to end new cases of HIV by 2030 and also makes clear that much more must be done to combat HIV stigma, particularly in healthcare settings. Our anti-stigma campaign, delivered in partnership with the Scottish Government, was a huge step forward in tackling stigma and raising public awareness of HIV, however, this cannot be a one-off. We therefore welcome calls by the Committee for a funded training programme for healthcare and public sector workers to address HIV stigma.

Scotland can be the first country in the world to end new transmission of HIV but we cannot do this without ending HIV stigma. We need the Scottish Government to take these recommendations seriously and commit sustainable resource to HIV transmission elimination so that we do not jeopardise this once-in-a-generation opportunity.”