City-wide campaign urges Londoners to prevent HIV this summer

  • By JackGraves

London boroughs are today launching a campaign encouraging Londoners to look after their sexual health and prevent HIV transmission.

The Do It London campaign aims to raise awareness of the multiple options now available for stopping HIV. Led by public health experts at the London HIV Prevention Programme, which is facilitated by London Councils, the campaign encourages Londoners to use Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), alongside condoms and regular testing, as core HIV prevention methods. It also emphasises that someone with diagnosed HIV who achieves an ‘undetectable’ status cannot pass the virus on to their sexual partner.

Supported by a dedicated website, which signposts to further information and services, the pan-London publicity will run across a range of outdoor and digital channels, as well as through on-the-ground outreach and condom distribution teams, including at the iconic London Pride event (on Saturday 7 July) and at other events this summer and autumn.

Cllr Ray Puddifoot MBE, London Councils’ executive member for health & care, said:

“HIV remains a major public health concern so it is crucial Londoners know how to look after themselves and each other. By working together on this Do It London campaign, London’s boroughs are ensuring consistent safer sex messages are promoted across the capital this summer.

“We know from previous campaigns that this collaborative approach is essential for raising public awareness, having an impact on people’s behaviour, and delivering excellent value for money at a time when public health budgets are under pressure.”

Paul Steinberg, lead commissioner of the London HIV Prevention Programme, said:

“We’re determined to do everything we can to help Londoners understand their HIV prevention choices. Whether through innovative digital marketing on ‘hook-up’ apps and social media, on streetside adverts, or via face-to-face health promotion, Do It London’s messages about combination HIV prevention will again be seen across the capital in the coming months.   

“Given the recent drop in HIV diagnoses in London, the campaign seeks to maintain that promising momentum and give everyone who lives, works or visits the capital the information they need to take care of their sexual health and prevent HIV transmission.”

Do It London is an award-winning public health initiative set up in 2015 by London’s boroughs in response to high rates of HIV. The capital is home to an estimated 38,700 living with HIV – accounting for 43 per cent of all people with the condition in England. Lack of awareness, late diagnosis, and continuing stigma all increase the risk of onward transmission and poorer health outcomes.

Since Do It London began there has been a downward trend in the number of people diagnosed with HIV in the capital, despite more people testing. This includes a remarkable 40 per cent reduction in HIV diagnoses in five central London clinics – a reduction that has not occurred on the same scale in the rest of the country.

Earlier this year, London joined the worldwide Fast-Track Cities initiative and became one of the first global cities to meet the UN’s ambitious HIV diagnosis and treatment targets. Working together with other cities, London has pledged to achieve three key HIV goals by 2030: zero new transmissions, zero deaths, and zero stigma.

Do It London is the largest campaign for driving progress towards these ambitious goals in the city. If current trends continue, London can be confident of achieving them within the next decade.

 

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

  1. Do It London advocates a combined prevention approach: condoms, testing, PrEP, and achieving ‘undetectable’ status – as having an undetectable viral load means HIV is untransmittable (U=U). Visit www.doitlondon.org to find out more.
  2. Do It London was the first official public health campaign in the UK to promote use of PrEP. In recognition of its groundbreaking work and success in reducing incidence of HIV, Do It London was named campaign of the year at the LGC Awards 2018.
  3. PrEP is a pill that can protect against HIV infection. Taking PrEP involves either taking one pill per day or what is called ‘event based’ dosing (taking PrEP before and after condomless sex). PrEP is for people who are HIV-negative but at high risk of infection, such as men who have sex with men and people who have an HIV positive partner. Results from a number of trials show that PrEP is highly effective in preventing HIV transmission.
  4. ‘Undetectable’ is the term used to describe the HIV viral load of someone on effective antiretroviral treatment. People with diagnosed HIV can achieve an ‘undetectable’ status through proper adherence to medication. This treatment leads to an undetectable viral load, meaning the virus cannot be passed on to sexual partners.
  5. The London HIV Prevention Programme (LHPP) is a collaboration led by Lambeth Council on behalf of 30 London boroughs and the City of London. Each partner contributes to the LHPP on a sliding scale relative to the HIV prevalence in its area. The programme delivers London-wide outreach, free testing and condom distribution to men who have sex with men, as well as the capital’s HIV prevention campaign Do It London.
  6. London Councils represents London’s 32 boroughs and the City of London and facilitates the LHPP’s governance. It is a cross-party organisation that works on behalf of all of its member authorities regardless of political persuasion. More about London Councils here: www.londoncouncils.gov.uk