The Government has refuted claims that it was to halve its HIV prevention budget for 2015, reiterating support for the strategy and saying “It will continue”.
Charities this week spoke out against apparent plans to slash funding for HIV Prevention England – which focusses on reducing HIV transmission in gay and bisexual men and ethnic minorities – from £2.45m to just £1.2m from April 2015.
In a letter from Health Minister Jane Ellison to Tory MPs Mike Freer and Simon Kirby, sent to PinkNews, she refuted claims that the fund would be slashed, and guaranteed that the money “will continue”.
She wrote: “I want to take this opportunity to make absolutely clear that this Government will protect funding for HIV prevention. Suggestions that we are going to cut this provision are unfounded. It will continue.
“I am extremely proud of this Government’s record on tackling HIV, including on prevention. In 2012/13, the Government spent an estimated £630m on HIV treatment and care which has been key in enabling people with HIV to live long and healthy lives, but we need to do more to stop people becoming infected in the first place.
“We welcome the fact that new HIV diagnoses have fallen from 6,333 in 2010 to 6,000 in 2013, and the proportion of late diagnoses of HIV continues to decline- down to 42% in 2013 and 50% in 2010. The Government has taken action beyond awareness raising and testing, for example through lifting the ban on home testing kits. However, we know we need to do more to reduce the number of HIV infections, particularly in men who have sex with men where we have seen a worrying increase in new infections.
“This is why, while the HIV prevention budget will be maintained, we do want to be more ambitions in our plans to prevent HIV and to explore new and more innovative ways of doing things> As we have said in recent months, this may involve working with a broader range of organisations, including charities who are experimenting with different ways of raising awareness of and preventing HIV transmission. Improving the way we deliver the HIV prevention programme will be part of our longer-term strategy for sexual and reproductive health which we plan to announce in the New Year.
“I hope this helps clarify the position regarding funding for the HIV prevention programme. Your campaigning on these issues and other health matters continues to be warmly welcomed.”
Speaking to PinkNews, Mr Freer said: “All credit to Jane Ellison, she’s been outstanding on this issue, and remains wholly committed to the HIV prevention strategy and its funding.”