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Charities say government 'must go further' to eradicate HIV cases by 2030

The government "must go further" to hit their target of ending HIV transmission by 2030, charities have told Sky News.

HIV testing rates among heterosexual men and women are down by a quarter compared to before the COVID pandemic, according to the latest data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

The number of new HIV cases recorded among heterosexuals passed those in gay and bisexual men for the first time in a decade in 2020, and has continued to be higher each year since.

Alana Beaumont contracted HIV in 2009. She uses social media to tell others what it's really like to live with it.

She told Sky News that her accounts regularly face abuse.

"[They say] that's what you get for being a whore. You shouldn't have slept with so many guys. Deplorable things have been said.

"I treat it now as ignorance and wilful ignorance. And when I see it, I tend to leave messages in my comment section for HIV-positive people to read.

"My messages are not for negative people to read and gain for it. It is for positive people to see and read and understand that they have nothing to be ashamed of.

"I think if we were to talk about STI with a bit more compassion, then I think we would see a different attitude. We would see people more willing to be safer."

Deborah Gold, chief executive at The National AIDS Trust, told Sky News that more must be done to tackle HIV.

"The government must go further to put all tools that diagnose and support everyone living with HIV, to good use.

"Routine testing should be the norm when signing up to a GP and online testing kits should be free everywhere, year-round, not just during HIV testing week."

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The south London borough of Lambeth has the highest prevalence of HIV in the country - where 13 in every 1,000 people are living with HIV.

The chief executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, Richard Angell, says it's important to identify people living with HIV - so they can access the treatment they need.

He's calling for the services in Lambeth to be expanded.

"There are so many wonderful initiatives happening in this area. GPs are proactively testing their patients," Mr Angell told Sky News.

"We need to see this replicated across the country."

The government says anyone having a blood test in selected hospital A&E units will also be tested for HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C unless they opt out.

Two million HIV tests are expected to be carried out over the next year in an attempt to find an estimated 4,500 people living with undiagnosed HIV in England.