HIV - the changing epidemic

 Jason Warriner 5 Nov 2019

World AIDS Day takes place on 1st December.  Across the UK we are working on the challenge to end new HIV infections by 2030. Nurses working in HIV and sexual health have a key role in achieving this target by promoting testing and supporting people living with HIV to access care and treatment.      

A new independent HIV Commission to end HIV transmissions in England by 2030 launched in July 2019. The Commission established by Terrence Higgins Trust and National AIDS Trust that is endorsed by the UK Government is working to find ambitious and achievable ways to end new HIV transmissions and HIV attributed deaths in England. The year long commission will publish its recommendations in Spring next year.

2020 is also the year when the UNAIDS 90-90-90 ambitious treatment targets will be reviewed - 90% of people living with HIV know their status, 90% of people who are living with HIV are on antiretroviral treatment and 90% of people who are on antiretroviral therapy are virally suppressed. 

For many nurses who worked in HIV care in the 1980's and 1990's an end to the epidemic did not seem possible. Over the last 30 years we have seen significant developments in the prevention of HIV, treatment and care in the UK and in the next decade we are in a position to end new transmissions and end the epidemic.

Today for members of the nursing team working in sexual health and HIV care still face many challenges such as recruitment and retention of staff, changes to funding and restructuring of services.  However, the commitment and dedication to working in these specialties continues every day with a drive to providing the best care possible for our patients. All members of the nursing team have a role to play in prevention, testing and supporting people to access treatment.

The RCN's work on sexual health and HIV continues with a range of web based resources that provide information and advice on career development, education and support available. The resources can be found here.

In 2020 we need to consider and respond to the recommendations of the independent Commission, looking at how nursing can contribute and how we can turn any recommendations in to reality. 

For further information see the HIV Commission

Jason Warriner

Jason Warriner

Chair of the RCN Public Health Forum

Independent healthcare consultant

Jason has extensive experience in HIV, sexual health, homelessness and drug and alcohol services. He has over ten years experience working as a director promoting the role of nurses in HIV care alongside advocating the value of public health nursing. 

Page last updated - 05/11/2019