10 Feb 2023
Getting to Zero – Launch of the Leeds Fast-Track City Initiative
Leeds joins global partnership working to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030
Leeds has this week become the first city in the Yorkshire and Humber region to become a ‘Fast-Track City’ declaring its commitment to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030.
At an event held at the Civic Hall this week as part of National HIV Testing Week (6-12 February 2023), the Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor James Lewis and executive member for public health Councillor Salma Arif formally signed the Paris and Sevilla declarations on behalf of the city to confirm its support.
Fast-Track Cities is a global partnership between cities and municipalities which is overseen by the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
Becoming a Fast-Track City confirms a city’s commitment to working together to achieve the ambitious 95-95-95 targets: 95% of people living with HIV know their positive status, 95% of those people are on effective treatment and 95% of people on effective treatment have an undetectable viral load (Undetectable = Untransmittable). There is also an added focus on Hepatitis and Tuberculosis.
Leeds has now joined Brighton, Bristol, Liverpool, London, Manchester and over 500 cities globally to make the commitment.
Victoria Eaton, director of public health at Leeds City Council, said:
“Leeds has long history of investment and innovation around HIV prevention, education and testing. Becoming a Fast-Track City will help to galvanise our collective knowledge, experience and assets towards a shared ambition of Zero new HIV infections, Zero AIDS-related deaths and Zero HIV-related stigma by the end of this decade.”
Councillor Salma Arif, executive member for public health and active lifestyles said:
“I am delighted that Leeds will become the first Fast-Track City in the Yorkshire and Humber region. We know that Stigma, misinformation, and discrimination still play a huge part in preventing people from accessing testing and treatment and we want to tackle this collectively as a city and have people at the heart of our work.”
This year’s National HIV Testing week campaign has the strapline ‘I Test’: exploring people’s different reasons for testing. Regular testing helps to reduce the number of people living with undiagnosed HIV and poor health outcomes associated with late HIV diagnosis.
Tom Doyle, Chief Executive – Yorkshire MESMAC Group of Services said:
“This National HIV Testing Week will see us delivering more HIV tests, in more venues, in more communities across Leeds than ever before. Like us, Fast Track Cities put communities at the centre of everything they do. Becoming a Fast-Track City will allow us to share our expertise of community testing and learn from a global network of cities, ensuring that this is the generation that will see the end of HIV transmissions.”
Dr Sarah Schoeman Sexual health and HIV Consultant, Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, said:
“We’re really proud and excited that Leeds is joining the global Fast Track Cities community and making this commitment to end the HIV epidemic by 2030. The key to ending new HIV infections is ensuring that everyone knows their HIV status and being a Fast-Track City will help us achieve this in Leeds.
“HIV testing is quick, easy, confidential and saves lives by enabling informed decision making. Anyone who tests positive can access free treatment which controls the virus and keeps them and their sexual partners healthy. Anyone who tests negative and is at risk of HIV can access free treatment to reduce their risk of getting HIV = pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Use National HIV Testing Week to your advantage - take an HIV test & take control.”
Rebecca Pullin, Programme Lead at BHA Leeds Skyline, said:
“Joining Fast-Track Cities is a wonderful opportunity to solidify Leeds' commitment to ensure no person living with HIV faces stigma or discrimination because of their HIV status. As we collectively work towards zero HIV transmissions by 2030 stigma and discrimination still play huge part in preventing people from accessing effective treatment, our support and to live well with HIV. BHA Leeds Skyline has a long-standing commitment to support people living with HIV through peer support, empowerment, and education.”
Opportunities to get a free, fast, confidential finger prick test for HIV are available at multiple venues across the city- please see Yorkshire MESMAC Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for more details of venue locations.
If you are eligible for a test they can be ordered online at www.freetesting.hiv and completed at home and sent back through the post. The ultimate goal is to increase regular HIV testing in the most at risk groups.
To find out more about Fast-Track Cities click here
Notes to editors
- For more information relating to Leeds City Council, public health please contact Sara Hyman, Communications Team on 0113 37 89173 or Sara.Hyman@leeds.gov.uk
- For more information relating to HIV and Gay & Bisexual Men please contact Tom Doyle, Chief Executive of Yorkshire MESMAC on 0113 244 4209 / 07771 931 421 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- For more information relating to HIV and black African communities please contact Jeni Hirst, Director of BHA Leeds Skyline on 0113 2449767 or email@example.com
- Leeds Sexual Health is a partnership between Leeds Community Healthcare Trust, Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust and Yorkshire MESMAC and provides all methods of contraception and testing and treatments for all sexually transmitted infections. For more information relating to the Leeds Sexual Health Service contact firstname.lastname@example.org (LCH) or email@example.com (LTHT Communications Officer)
- Information on testing sessions in Leeds can be found at www.startswithme.org.uk or www.mesmac.co.uk
- HIV Home Sampling Kits can be ordered from www.freetesting.hiv
The costs during the period of this campaign will be covered by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
- More information about National HIV testing week is www.hivpreventionengland.org.uk
For media enquiries please contact:
Leeds City Council communications and marketing,
Tel: 0113 378 6007
For media enquiries contact:
Leeds City Council Communications team