Working together as a city to get London to zero HIV stigma.

Despite all the advances in clinical care, we know that for people living with HIV life can be difficult because of the stigma associated with HIV.

HIV stigma is often based on outdated ideas and made worse by discrimination in other areas like gender, sexuality or race.

We know that in order to get us to zero new cases of HIV, zero preventable deaths and 100 per cent of people living well, we must fight stigma. We have to work together with people living with HIV, the voluntary sector, doctors and nurses, the Mayor of London, London Councils, NHS England (London) and public health experts.

In 2019, the Fast-Track Cities London Leadership Group set up a stigma working group to look at the current evidence on stigma, review existing work and draft an action plan. This stigma group had a range of people on it from the voluntary sector, statutory agencies, the NHS, local councils, academics and people living with HIV.

The stigma group described three key areas we need to focus on, addressing internal and external stigma at the same time. A joint focus on these areas will speed up London’s response to ending stigma.

In December 2019 the stigma group shared the draft action plan and asked for feedback. We heard from over 100 people and agencies about what London should do to end the stigma around HIV. You can find all the consultation materials and feedback on this page.

The three key areas we proposed to tackle together as a city are:

Internalised or self-stigma

We brought together a community of practice from the voluntary sector, to create a framework for an empowerment programme to tackle internalised stigma. In October 2021 we launched a fund for the voluntary sector to deliver these empowerment programmes. In March 2022, we launched six empowerment programmes to tackle stigma with people living with HIV.

You can read about the empowerment programmes here.

You can also hear directly from one of the course attendees: Opinion: Reflections from an empowerment programme graduate.

Stigma in the NHS and other public services

On the 1st April 2023 Fast-Track Cities London launched the HIV confident charter led by the National AIDS Trust working with Positively UK and NAM AIDSmap. The new anti-stigma charter partnership will work with the HIV sector to deliver an educational charter that will tackle stigma and discrimination in frontline public services in London, as well as reaching out to tackle stigma in society.

Alongside this we launched the HIV ambassador programme led by the Terrence Higgins Trust, which will work with the HIV confident charter. The HIV Ambassador programme, will bring together key organisations, community leaders, and influencers to mobilise and champion innovative strategies for HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support.

Stigma in society 

We commissioned the National AIDS Trust and BritainThinks to work with the HIV community to develop a public knowledge and attitudes survey. The survey results were published in July 2021. Read the national public knowledge and attitudes survey results and results for London on our website. The anti-stigma charter will look at ways of tackling stigma in society through online education and HIV ambassadorship.

You can read more about the stigma plans for London, following the consultation, here:

Updated stigma plans for London March 2020


This feedback shaped the stigma proposals for London, which are published here:

Stigma plans for London March 2020

You can read more about the feedback process here:

Appendix A: How did we get feedback

Appendix B: Summary of what people told us

Appendix C: Results of fact finding survey on what work already exists in London

We want to keep everyone up to date with this work and need people to get involved, so please email us at rf-tr.londonftci@nhs.net.