BRIGHTON and Hove could become a pilot for a new HIV testing scheme with the aim of reaching zero new transmissions by 2030.

Responding to a letter by Brighton’s three MPs, health minister Jo Churcill said she is keen to work with areas like Brighton and Hove to learn from the city’s pioneering approach to prevention, testing and reducing late diagnosis of HIV.

The pilot would see HIV testing being made available when people attend A and E, register for a new GP and at pharmacies in the city in order to normalise testing in the community.

Councillor Phelim Mac Cafferty, leader of the city council, said: “Outstanding progress has already been made in the city to increase testing and fight HIV-related stigma. Normalising HIV testing across health services is the next step.

“In addition to a strong, continued commitment to support people living with HIV, we are proud to be the host of some of the best HIV support, treatment and prevention services and community organisations in the country.

“We are eager to get this pilot underway as we know Brighton and Hove is well placed to be one of the first cities to make it happen.”

Brighton and Hove was the first city in the UK to have "HIV fast track city" status and has some of the best online testing services for the virus, including pioneering HIV test vending machines.

Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, said: “Our city is a national leader in driving down HIV infections, not least because MPs, the council and local public health teams have worked on this.

“We want to share our experiences with others, and we’re ready to do more.

“I’m glad the minister seems prepared to work with us towards ending new cases of HIV by 2030 in England.”

The government announced its target for zero transmission of HIV in 2019 through better prevention, detection and treatment.

Scientists at Oxford University started clinical trials for a potential vaccine against the virus earlier this month, results are expected in April next year.

HIV was first discovered in the early 1980s, with Channel 4 drama It’s A Sin exploring the horrors of the crisis faced by Britain’s LGBTQ+ community.

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