25th February 2016
HIV charities across the country have united with health professional bodies to launch a new campaign opposing government cuts to HIV services.
Charities from Liverpool to Leicestershire to London have come together with the British Association For Sexual Health And HIV and the British HIV Association to form Support People With HIV: Stop The Cuts.
The campaign has written to Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, to call for a meeting to discuss the impact of the cuts and demand effective commissioning, adequate funding, and access to support services for those living with HIV.
Alex Sparrowhawk, Membership and Involvement Officer at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “As a person living with HIV, I can prove to Jeremy Hunt that HIV support services are vital to dealing with your diagnosis and managing this health condition. The national campaign is about sounding the alarm to policy makers, councils, and the public – these essential services are under serious threat and we need your help.
“At a time when rates of HIV are increasing, stigma is as apparent as ever, we are seeing the start of a disturbing trend of local authorities across the country scrapping HIV services.”
HIV services in both Berkshire and Oxfordshire, run by Thames Valley Support and Terrence Higgins Trust respectively, have seen cuts of over £100k between them, forcing the closure of Oxfordshire’s local centre and leaving almost 500 people without an alternative support service.
Meanwhile, Positive Action have seen their Portsmouth HIV support service cut by £26k, while its Hampshire service has been granted only £30k – less than half the amount it usually receives.
Yuzaf Azad, Director of Strategy at the National AIDS Trust, said: “HIV remains a stigmatised and misunderstood condition. It’s not the same as other health issues where people can rely of support and sympathy from friends and colleagues.
“HIV support services can be the only place where people are open about their status, the only places they can find advice and support, the only place they can talk to other people with HIV. They are an essential component of the long-term care of people with HIV. To remove them would leave a lot of vulnerable people stranded.”
Support People With HIV: Stop The Cuts is encouraging members of the public to take action to show their support by writing to their local council leader and asking what they’re doing to support people living with HIV.