Local government diminishing HIV services, campaign warns

Councils are reducing HIV services and leaving people with little or no support in their local towns, according to a campaign launched by a group of charities.

The campaign, Support people with HIV: Stop the cuts, has written an open letter to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt calling for more effecting commissioning and funding of services. It highlights that in some areas, namely Oxfordshire County Council, there will be no HIV prevention and support services after April 2016, due to cuts to funding.

Dr Greg Ussher, METRO Charity CEO, said: “Proposed cuts of up to 100 per cent of HIV support services will decimate vital provision for people that cannot speak out against their local authority’s plans for fear of the stigma publicly disclosing their HIV status might bring.”

An LGA spokesperson said: “Devolving public health to local government was a positive step, and councils have embraced their new responsibilities by increasing spending on sexual health services since 2013 to approximately £600 million a year.

“Given that much of councils' public health budget goes to pay for NHS services, including sexual health, government reductions to the public health budget of more than £530 million over the next five years are likely to affect the prevention services councils are able to provide, such as tackling sexually transmitted infections. This will put further pressure on other NHS services.”