Amsterdam aims to have 0 new HIV infections by 2026
The Amsterdam office of mayor and aldermen launched a new action plan with the goal of reducing the number of new HIV infections in the city to zero by 2026. Steps in this plan include expanding testing options and making the use of HIV inhibitor PrEP possible on a larger scale.
Amsterdam's fight against HIV is already having effect, with preliminary figures for 2019 showing the first significant decrease in new infections in years, the office said in a press statement. According to preliminary figures, GGD Amsterdam's outpatient clinics diagnosed 60 HIV infections last year. In previous years, there were around 100 new diagnoses. The decrease may have multiple reasons, but the city believes that the use of PrEP and the rapid start of treatments with HIV inhibitors played a major role. Inhibitors can suppress the virus to such an extent that it can no longer be transmitted to another person.
According to healthcare alderman Simone Kukenheim, the knowledge and experience Amsterdam has gained in its long history of fighting HIV gives the city the responsibility to use it to greater effect.
An estimated 6 thousand Amsterdam residents are living with HIV, including an estimated 300 who are not aware of their positive status. "People with HIV infection who are not treated can transmit the virus. That is why testing is very important," Kukenheim said. The city will therefore expand testing possibilities, for example with home test kits and by encouraging GPs to test for HIV more often, but also tackling "non-medical factors such as stigmas, taboos or no access to care," she said.
Amsterdam believes that basic care in the field of HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmitted diseases should not come at the expense of healthcare deductibles, and the mayor and aldermen will lobby for this at national level. The city believes that this will also lower the threshold to get tested.
Amsterdam is also urging the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sports to expand the number of "places" available in its national test with the use of PrEP. Amsterdam currently has 2,178 places in the national experiment. At the end of May, 1,626 Amsterdam residents were taking part - the rest of the places will be filled by October at the latest. But according to GGD Amsterdam, at least 4 thousand Amsterdam residents could benefit from taking the inhibitor.
"Striving for 0 new HIV infections in 2026 is ambitious, but also necessary," Kukenheim said.