This year marks 40 years since the death of Terry Higgins and the formation of Terrence Higgins Trust, the first charity in the UK to be set up in response to the HIV epidemic.
From the first HIV activism in the UK to our work in tackling sexual health inequalities and preventing new cases of HIV, we have always been a radical and ambitious force. Our strategy for the future embraces this spirit.
This is an exciting and historic time – we will do everything in our power to end new cases of HIV by 2030 and improve the nation’s sexual health.
1. There are no new HIV cases
Every week around 60 people are diagnosed with HIV and have to learn to cope with the impact this has on their lives. But with the advent of effective HIV treatment, testing, PrEP, PEP and condoms – it doesn’t have to be this way.
In 2020, we worked with our partners at National AIDS Trust and Elton John AIDS Foundation to initiate a multi-stakeholder HIV Commission for England, working to identify what needs to be done to ensure that there are no new HIV cases in the UK by 2030. It went above and beyond, providing a road map for the UK to be the first country in the world to meet this ambition. We are committed to seeing this plan delivered, as well as looking to what we can do globally to drive down new HIV cases.
2. People living with HIV get the support they need
For many people, living with HIV does not cause many issues in their day to day lives. However, for others, particularly people who have been long-term diagnosed, daily life can be a struggle.
People living with HIV are around twice as likely to have issues with their mental health, and 1 in 3 live in poverty compared to 1 in 5 in the general population. People who are newly diagnosed often need support around coming to terms with their diagnosis and getting used to their treatments. Many others are concerned about their risk of HIV, and need vital information and access to prevention tools.
We are here for anyone concerned by, or living with HIV, whenever they need us. We are here to help everyone living with HIV to thrive.
3. Everyone can access good quality sexual and reproductive health services and information tailored to their needs
Health inequalities in sexually transmitted infections have only been made more evident in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will expand and adapt our service offering to meet communities’ needs, continuing to provide a range of sexual and reproductive health and HIV services across the UK, often in partnership with local authorities, health boards and other statutory partners where these meet our strategy.
We are here to support everyone impacted by poor sexual health. With so many health inequalities being deeply engrained throughout health and social systems, our work will challenge them and innovate to tackle them at source. Additionally, we have created a new role to focus on health equity in key populations, prioritising greater diversity at all levels in the workforce including leadership roles.
4. HIV, sexual and reproductive health are free from shame and stigma
We are determined to make stigma around HIV, sex, and sexual and reproductive health a thing of the past. We’ll tackle outdated information in the public sphere and amplify the stories of those living with HIV or experiencing poor sexual or reproductive health, ensuring that their lived experiences are at the heart of our work.
There are clear inequalities in terms of the communities most impacted by poor sexual health. Black people bear a far higher burden of common STIs, with a 9% increase in STI rates among those of Caribbean heritage in 2019. In the last four years, gay and bisexual men have seen an 83% jump in chlamydia diagnoses.
Living in the most disadvantaged parts of the UK is also associated with higher admissions for conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease and ectopic pregnancy, higher rates of teenage pregnancy, and higher abortion rates, indicating difficulties in accessing contraception for women in these areas.
These inequalities aren’t new but there’s still a shocking lack of information about the impact of structural inequalities including misogyny, racism, homophobia and transphobia. We know that many communities continue to face massive health inequalities, and so we will expand our work to respond to those needs in relation to HIV and sexual and reproductive health for women, racially minoritised communities, trans and non-binary people and young people.
5. Everyone in our organisation respects and values diversity, creating an environment that is inclusive of all, and by working in partnership with others we reduce inequalities in sexual health
It is often marginalised communities that face the greatest inequalities in sexual and reproductive health. As activists we work within many different communities to challenge health inequalities and we work to overcome stigma and misinformation, ensuring our services and information meet the needs of all communities. Through our work we will help drive down prejudice and discrimination.
Together We Can
We’re excited about our new three-year strategy and working hard to achieve its aims. But we can’t do it alone and need our supporters, allies and those who champion us to work with is. Because together we can.