Leaders signed a crucial commitment to end the global Aids epidemic in cities by 2030, in a fitting end to The Independent and Evening Standard's AIDSfree campaign.
In the statement signed yesterday during a ceremony at the AIDSfree Cities Global Forum, they agreed to "work towards getting zero HIV infections and Aids-related deaths".
They restated a commitment to "mobilize resources", "address the causes" and to "join as leaders" to end AIDS in their cities and meet the United Nations' 90:90:90 targets.
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These aim to get at least 90 percent of people with HIV knowing their status, 90 percent of those on treatment, and 90 percent of those being treated to have an "undetectable viral load" – where the levels of virus in the blood are so low it can not be passed on.
Signatories included Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, County Commissioner Robb Pitts from Atlanta, UNAIDS's Tim Martineau and Jose Zuniga, president of the International Association of Providers of Aids Care. London representatives also signed, along with Anne Aslett, chief executive of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Mr Sonko said: "This is our commitment as leaders to ensure by 2030 we do not have the spread of AIDS any more … leaders of various cities have to show our commitment in the strongest way." Mr Pitts said: "Signing the declaration is a demonstration of a re-commitment. this [appeal] has spread knowledge, informed the public, and we are interacting with the people involved. You can find out what other people are doing … and it is that interchange of ideas that is so important. "
The head of health for the Greater London Authority, Vicky Hobart, said: "It's great to see so many partners in London committed to what we are trying to do … London is in a great position to be able to collaborate, as well as learn from other cities. "
Earlier, Health Secretary Matt Hancock had committed the government to ending new HIV transmissions, not only in London, but across England, by 2030.
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt told the forum: "While the world has made great strides in tackling HIV and AIDS we need to step up our efforts. The scale of our ambition is clear, we all passionately believe we can create an Aids-free future for the world, and I know that we are going to. "
The day-long forum saw international experts talking about issues such as combination prevention, such as PrEP and self-testing, HIV in transgender community and drug users, and the use of data and analysis to help the most disadvantaged combat epidemic.
The Independent and Evening Standard's AIDSfree campaign, launched in December, ends on Friday. It has told stories of people living with HIV around the world, and shared expert commentary on medical developments. All funds raised will go to programs supported by the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
The event's findings will be used to help plan the first global Fast-Track Cities conference at the Barbican in September. Supported by the Mayor of London, it will bring 250 cities working to speed up responses to diseases including HIV and tuberculosis.
Mr Zuniga, who will organize the conference, hailed what was achieved yesterday: "This forum allows us to celebrate [the cities’] successes, but also to speak bluntly about the challenges we face … We will take the lessons learned from this forum and bring them to the other cities. "
Paul Stoffels, vice president at Johnson & Johnson, who sponsored the forum, said: "No one organization, government or NGO can win the fight against HIV … it requires collaboration, sustained effort and increased resources, a truly global effort … I am optimistic that with continued innovation and the types of collaboration we have seen here we can achieve that goal. "
Money raised from public donations through the AIDSfree appeal will be used to support the Elton John AIDS Foundation projects in six key cities around the world (London, Nairobi, Atlanta, Kiev, Delhi and Maputo). Through UK Aid Match the UK government will double public donations up to £ 2m to be spent across projects in Maputo and Nairobi.