Croydon Council’s efforts to raise awareness about preventing the spread of HIV have contributed to a decline in infection rates across London.
There has been a year-on-year reduction of people being diagnosed late in the borough, which means they are receiving life-saving treatment earlier. New diagnoses in London have declined 42% between 2015 and 2018 (from 2,585 down to 1,504).
Croydon Council leads a number of initiatives and works closely with partner organisations, including the local NHS and other London boroughs, informing people about the importance of testing for HIV and prevention by encouraging healthy sexual relationships.
This includes a health and wellbeing zone set up at this year’s Croydon Pridefest where hundreds of festival-goers stopped by for advice. There were 84 rapid HIV tests carried out at the event with some people being tested for the very first time.
Packs of condoms and lubricant were also distributed and 27 young people signed up to the council’s C-Card scheme on the day, which offers free condoms to residents under 25, as well as adults who are considered to be vulnerable and those groups more at risk of contracting HIV.
Croydon Council widely promotes the national HIV Testing Week campaign, which this year starts on Saturday 16 November. The local campaign provides increased opportunities for residents to be tested at accessible Croydon community venues in the run-up to World Aids Day on 1 December. Last year, around 1,200 additional HIV tests took place during this time.
Sexual health advice is available to residents on the council’s health website. There is also free online HIV testing for targeted groups and the council funds the charity Metro to support residents living with HIV.
HIV training sessions with local health professionals are organised by the council’s public health team to keep awareness of the infection high on their agenda and to encourage more people to test regularly for HIV.
“We are committed to improving the health and wellbeing of our residents and supporting them to make safe and informed choices about their health. In Croydon, HIV testing is available at sexual health clinics throughout the year. It is great to see our partnership efforts helping to drive down HIV rates in the capital through our community outreach work, training with health professionals and the collaboration with the London HIV Prevention Programme and the Do It London campaign.”
Councillor Jane Avis, cabinet member for families, health and social care
London is a member of the worldwide Fast-Track Cities initiative and became one of the first global cities to meet the United Nations’ 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.