It was revealed this week that over the past year there have been huge cuts to HIV support services across the UK with over a quarter of local authorities in England cutting contract values by a shocking 50%. The damaging news was revealed by The National Aids Trust and will no doubt bring further worry to HIV charities concerned about the future of these community services under this Tory Government.
Ian Dylan Thomas, Co-Chair of LGBT Labour, is appalled by this latest attack. “HIV services offer an invaluable space to support some of the issues that can occur post diagnoses. These are often complicated matters to tackle, such as emotional wellbeing, isolation, employment and housing problems. They also do an excellent job of challenging HIV stigma which something that has not gone away and threatens to increase if these services disappear.”
In a 2015 report from Public Health England statistics shown that
- Of new HIV diagnoses in 2015, 54% were among men who have sex with men (MSM).
- 88,769 people accessed HIV care services, 41% of whom live in London.
- An estimated 101,200 people are living with HIV in the UK.
- There were 6,095 new HIV diagnoses.
LGBT Labour have spoken to Christian Dolan who contracted HIV in 2009 and told us how resourceful having these services were for him in coming to terms with his diagnoses.
“In the age of PrEP there is huge talks of prevention, which I think is fantastic, however I do think that this has slightly overshadowed the fact that there are still new HIV diagnosis' happening every day. This is something that mustn't be forgotten and still adhered to. PrEP is doing the job it does, but not everyone has access to it at the moment. We still need to ensure that those support systems are still in place for any newly diagnosed - this is imperative.”
Matthew Hodson of the National AIDS Map (NAM) believes the hat information resources like NAM, are an integral part of the HIV care pathway.
“Cuts to HIV support services are often only a false economy. By helping people with HIV when they most need it, such as when they are newly diagnosed or experiencing poor mental health, these services prevent much greater physical or emotional ill health and ultimately save money. The high level of clinical success that we enjoy in the UK is reliant not only on specialised clinical care but also on the excellence of the services that support those of us living with HIV. HIV support services are too valuable to be lost.”
Next week there is a debate on HIV services since the Health and Social Act. LGBT Labour have spoken with Sharon Hodgson MP, Shadow Minister for Public Health and have pledged to work together in opposing these dangerous cuts.
“It is important that we improve sexual health in our society, and this includes the LGBT community, where issues such as unprotected sex, drug misuse in sex and HIV are prevalent.
“The work conducted by the National Aid’s Trust shows the growing concerns about the future of HIV services here in England, and it is important that these vital services are supported. That is why in my capacity as Shadow Minister for Public Health, I will be working alongside LGBT Labour to hold the Government to account and push for sexual health services not to be diminished.”