Man's plea to next government for 'once-in-lifetime' opportunity

A Merseyside man has issued a plea to the next government - regardless of which party takes power.

Ant Hopkinson, from St Helens, has called on the future UK government to make history by seizing the chance to end HIV in the UK - and becoming the first country to do so.

The 40-year-old, who is the CEO of Liverpool’s oldest LGBTQ+ charity, Sahir House, isn’t alone in his call for action. 20 other HIV and sexual health charities have also joined in One Parliament Left, a manifesto which sets out the actions that must be taken to achieve this historic goal.

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Ant told the ECHO: “The Liverpool City Region has a unique opportunity to lead the charge in becoming one of the first places in the UK to put an end to new HIV transmissions. By rallying behind the crucial actions outlined in the manifesto, we can pave the way for a healthier, more resilient city region.

“Together with our partners, we are engaged in productive discussions with our elected leaders on matters related to HIV prevention and support. We're grateful for their ongoing commitment to supporting all those living with and affected by HIV. We all agree that we must seize this moment to not just envision change, but to actively create it.”

Advances in treatment and prevention mean the goal of ending new HIV cases by 2030 “is in reach”. People living with HIV on effective treatment can live a long, healthy life and can’t pass HIV on.

Sahir House CEO, Ant Hopkinson, is encouraging members of the public to play a more active role in helping to prevent new cases of HIV
Sahir House CEO, Ant Hopkinson -Credit:Ant Hopkinson

HIV prevention pill, PrEP, stops HIV-negative people from contracting the virus and the charities argue that “huge leaps forward in HIV testing mean we can – and must – find every person living with undiagnosed HIV and get them the care they need”.

The charities said with “bold, targeted, and urgent action” these life-changing interventions will end transmissions and make living well a reality for all who live with HIV.

The 2019 to 2024 parliament has seen considerable progress towards this goal; the first UK Government HIV Action Plan was published, and opt-out HIV testing was introduced in 81 A&E departments, including Liverpool.

PrEP was also commissioned in sexual health services, and discrimination is being tackled across multiple settings including; the military, pilots, driving, blood donation and fertility rights.

But the charities say “there is so much more to be done”. This is because the vital progress made so far is threatened by a new sexual health crisis. Rates of STIs are higher than ever, demand for services is ever-increasing, and access is limited for many.

Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, Richard Angell, said: “MPs elected in July this year have a simple choice. Be the generation to end the HIV epidemic and stop new HIV cases or not. We are in touching distance but we need to pull our finger out to make it happen.

“While progress has been made, every day we are missing chances to make this goal a reality. To end new HIV cases, we have to turn this around.

“If our leaders are serious about ending this epidemic, this is the last parliamentary term to do it. Get it right and we could be the first country in the world to end new HIV cases. What a legacy that would be.”

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