Exposed: HIV prevention funding cut by a third in areas with crucial need
Data published today by NAT (National AIDS Trust), shows a significant decrease in spending on HIV prevention across the UK. In areas with a high HIV prevalence, where need is highest, spending dropped by 29% in two years. In London, where all 32 boroughs have a high prevalence of HIV, there was a 35% reduction in HIV prevention funding.
The report, Investment in HIV prevention in the UK, is based on FOI responses from 230 commissioning bodies across the UK and reports expenditure on HIV prevention in 2015/16 and 2016/17. This coincides with a period of significant cuts to the public health budget in England.
It follows a previous survey, which looked at investment on HIV prevention in areas with a high prevalence of HIV in 2013/14 and 2014/15. On Thursday (June 22) Public Health England published new evidence that there have been significant decreases in HIV diagnoses amongst MSM (men who have sex with men) in some areas in London. Yet NAT’s survey findings indicate that further progress may be at risk.
Deborah Gold, Chief Executive at NAT, said: “These findings are a cause for extreme concern. The steep drop in funding for HIV prevention is the opposite of what is needed. There is strong evidence that targeted prevention efforts are very effective, however, services which have been crucial to limiting the rise in HIV are now having their impact severely limited. In HIV, we have the tools available to turn the epidemic around, but we need to use them.”
The report indicates that funding for HIV prevention with key affected populations is often being cut back and instead prevention is increasingly incorporated into large, less specialist contracts.
Deborah added, “HIV disproportionately affects gay and bisexual men and black African communities. Groups which the Government recognise already face wider prejudice and inequality. But we’re worried that access to specialist services directly targeting these groups is shrinking. We risk losing critical services, infrastructure and expertise in HIV prevention.”
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NAT (National AIDS Trust) is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to transforming society’s response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expertise and practical resources. We champion the rights of people living with HIV and campaign for change.
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