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NAT opposes 50% cut to national HIV prevention funding for England.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Government has announced that there will be devastating cuts to funding for the national HIV prevention programme in England. 

Funding will be halved for the year commencing April 2015 and there is as yet no commitment to fund further years of the programme. 

The current programme, HIV Prevention England (HPE), is coordinated by Terrence Higgins Trust and is focussed on the needs of men who have sex with men (MSM) and black African men and women.

The £1.2million allocated for 2015/16 is equivalent to less than £1 for each person targeted by the programme.

Less than a month ago, Public Health England released data showing that rates of HIV transmission show no signs of decline.   Last year saw 6,000 new HIV diagnoses in the UK, including the highest ever number of diagnoses among gay and bisexual men.  One in four people living with HIV remain undiagnosed.  NAT’s recent poll, commissioned form Ipsos MORI, showed that only two thirds of British adults can correctly identify the three main routes for HIV transmission and an increasing number think you can get HIV through impossible routes, such as kissing and sneezing.

Deborah Gold, Chief Executive of NAT, says:

“This decision is simply staggering. HIV transmission shows no signs of decline, with the highest number of diagnoses among gay and bisexual men ever last year. Public knowledge of HIV is far too low, and myths about HIV are on the increase. We are at serious risk of going backwards on HIV if national-level investment is not made in HIV prevention. We urge the Government to think again.”

This decision is in direct contradiction to Simon Stevens’ NHS Five Year Forward View, released in October and welcomed by all main political parties, in which he said:

‘…the future health of millions of children, the sustainability of the NHS, and the economic prosperity of Britain all now depend on a radical upgrade in prevention and public health. Twelve years ago Derek Wanless’ health review warned that unless the country took prevention seriously we would be faced with a sharply rising burden of avoidable illness. That warning has not been heeded – and the NHS is on the hook for the consequences’.

Notes to the editor:

  • Earl Howe confirmed in response to a House of Lords Parliamentary Question tabled by Lord Hunt, the Government’s intention to cut the national HIV prevention programme [Hansard, House of Lords:1 Dec 2014 Column 1109] and THT have since confirmed that the proposal made by the Government is to halve funding in 2015/16.
  • The Government has funded national HIV prevention programmes since 1996.  Funding for these programmes has been progressively reduced in recent years.
  • The current national prevention programme - HIV Prevention England (HPE)- has been funded for three years, until the end of March 2015.
  • Funding for HPE is £2.45m per year - this is already less than the combined funding received by the previous prevention programmes, NAHIP and CHAPS, in 2011/12.  
  • Local authorities invest in HIV prevention as part of their public health responsibilities - but soon-to-be-published NAT research shows that less than 0.1% of the public health allocation in high HIV prevalence areas is being spent on primary HIV prevention.  Local authorities need the support of a national programme to maximise the effectiveness of their HIV prevention activities.
  • An Ipsos MORI poll commissioned by NAT found that only 65% of adults could correctly identify, from a list, the three main ways that people acquire HIV: condom-less sex between a man and a women, condom-less sex between two men and sharing needles or syringes.  Almost a third (28%) of people wrongly think you can get HIV from impossible routes such as kissing; sharing a glass; spitting; from a public toilet seat; coughing or sneezing. This is up from 18% in 2010.

  • For further information please contact:

Kat Smithson

Tel: 020 7814 6727

Kat.smithson@nat.org.uk

Twitter @NAT_AIDS_Trust

Facebook/NAT (National AIDS Trust)

Instgram @NATIONALAIDSTRUST

NAT can also be reached at: 020 7814 6767

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