Elton John Aids charity reaches testing landmark midway through three-year programme

Elton John’s charity fighting HIV and Aids has celebrated a landmark 120,000 tests just 18 months into a three-year programme.

Town halls, charities like Comic Relief and investors supported the programme to find new ways to trace sufferers and connect them to helpful projects.

The Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), a global non-profit organisation supporting innovation in the fight against HIV/AIDS, created the programme in Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham, which have some of the highest rates of HIV in Europe.

The achievement was announced in a session of the International AIDS Society AIDS2020:Virtual conference, which also revealed more than 180 South Londoners living with HIV entered treatment.

The data published at the conference also revealed 114 people received a new diagnosis of HIV and attended their first treatment, and 68 others returned to clinics after previously leaving care.

Other partners include the National Lottery and ViiV, one of the biggest global firms tackling HIV.

The project is designed to save the NHS money in future years by getting sufferers into HIV treatment before their condition deteriorates, slowing the spread of HIV.

EJAF chief executive Anne Aslett said: “We are proud of have championed the world’s first HIV social impact bond to bring South Londoners into life-saving HIV care.

“Our partners work directly in the community to build trust and meet individuals where they live, testing for HIV in hospitals and GP surgeries and re-engaging people who have left HIV treatment.

“This work is critical because treatment is also prevention. HIV treatment means that the individual can have a healthy life, and it also prevents the onwards spread of HIV.”

This new project, called the Zero HIV Social Impact Bond, is the first in the world designed to tackle HIV, by linking investors, local councils, hospitals, GPs and HIV support charities.

ViiV head of positive action, Cathy Ferrier, said: “We invested in testing, referral and retention to care for people living with HIV, collaborating with other investors, healthcare providers and community organisations.

“This has led to a successful project using a new investment model, the Social Impact Bond.

“Hopefully there are interesting lessons that can be learned.”

The project is funded by Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham councils, Commissioning Better Outcomes in The National Lottery Community Fund, and Elton John AIDS Foundation.

More than 100,000 people in the UK live with HIV. Individuals with HIV are twice as likely to live in poverty compared to non-HIV people.

Two-thirds are living with an additional long-term health condition and three quarters are suffering from mental illness.

The partnership hope the success of the project will help NHS England and town halls to improve their commissioning.

Pictured top: Elton John pictured on tour in Norway 


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