London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called for broader availability of pre-exposure prophylaxis drugs in his welcoming speech at the Fast-Track Cities 2019 conference. Concluding today, the conference has brought together leaders from 300 cities around the world to discuss municipal responses to HIV, tuberculosis, and viral hepatitis.1

London and the United States have both set ambitious goals for solving the HIV epidemic. In the United States, the "Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America" goal is to reduce new HIV infections by 75% in 5 years and by 90% in 10 years.2 During his speech, Khan reiterated London's goal to eliminate new HIV infections, deaths, and stigma by 2030.1

The Fast-Track Cities 2019 conference aims to highlight and share successes achieved across the cities in the network, address challenges faced by local stakeholders, and share best practices in accelerating HIV/AIDS responses.

London has been praised as a leader in the global fight against HIV and AIDS, having already met the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets by 2019. The targets specify that within a city or country 90% of people living with HIV are aware of their status; that 90% of people who know their status are accessing HIV treatment; and that 90% of people accessing HIV treatment are achieving viral suppression. London had reached these goals by the time it joined the Fast-Track Cities initiative in January 2018, but Khan said there is still a long way to go.

"I'm also proud of the work London is doing to tackle HIV and inequality, and am pleased that we will be able to share our knowledge and experience with others," Khan said. "But despite our progress, there is still much more to be done as too many people continue to catch the virus."

Urban environments—such as London—can significantly increase the risk of contracting HIV, due to dynamics such as social behavior, migration, unemployment, and social and economic inequalities. However, according to The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), a partner host of Fast-Track Cities 2019, urban centers have inherent advantages and opportunities to improve the health of their residents.1 

"To truly end all new cases of HIV in London, it's high time the government made PrEP available via the NHS [Strategic Health Authority] for all those who need it," Khan continued. "No ifs, no buts, and no more pilots—we know it works, it stops the spread of infection, and saves money in the long run."

The official opening of the conference, a session on "High-Level Panel on Health Inequalities," included elected officials from around the world. Officials from the United States included Svante Myrick, mayor of Ithaca, NY; and Robb Pitts, chairman of Fulton County in Atlanta, GA.


References
  1. Unaids.org. Global leaders unite to tackle health inequalities. UNAIDS. https://www.unaids.org/en/resources/presscentre/pressreleaseandstatementarchive/2019/september/london_fast-track_cities. Published September 9, 2019. Accessed September 10, 2019.
  2. What is 'Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America'? HIV.gov. https://www.hiv.gov/federal-response/ending-the-hiv-epidemic/overview. Accessed September 10, 2019.