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Statement: The Spring Budget is a missed opportunity for the HIV response

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

On March 6th, the Chancellor announced the Budget.  

James Cole, NAT Senior Policy, Research and Influencing Manager said:

"We have the opportunity in the UK to be the first nation to end new HIV transmissions but to do so, we need the right investment decisions to be taken.

"Today’s Budget gave an opportunity for the Government to drive delivery of their HIV Action Plan and tackle widening disparities in HIV prevention, treatment, and care. Whilst Government investment has contributed to transformational progress in the HIV response, there are persistent inequalities in HIV, particularly on race and gender. Recent studies and the UK Health Security Agency’s own assessment has shown that we will not hit the 2030 targets without increased investment in HIV services and support and, crucially, addressing health inequalities.

"We recognise that there are some welcome announcements in the Budget. This includes increased funding for medical research and the NHS ‘Productivity Plan’ that will unlock additional funding to support NHS digital transformation.

"But with sexual health services at breaking point and growing inequalities, the Budget was a missed opportunity. Local Government Association analysis has found that, between 2015 and 2024, the public health grant received by councils has been reduced in real terms by £880 million. This has resulted in a reduction in councils’ ability to spend on STI testing, contraception and treatment. It is disappointing that the Government has not announced measures to adequately fund the sexual health services that people rely on. It is also shameful that the Budget omitted the necessary funding for compensation for those affected by the Contaminated Blood Scandal.

"To ensure people can live well with HIV and the HIV Action Plan can be delivered, long-term investments with a focus on tackling inequalities are urgently needed. This should include funding interventions to ensure equitable access to PrEP and HIV testing; increasing the Public Health Grant; and funding a national programme to find, re-engage and support everyone living with HIV to stay in care."