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Government cuts harm HIV services, Labour claims

LGBT Labour criticise UK government over HIV services and awareness
56 Dean Street sexual health clinic in London.
LGBT Labour says efforts to promote safe sex awareness need to be doubled, along with commitment to HIV services, in the face of swingeing British government cuts. After 30 years of HIV in the UK, the number of people living with the virus is at an all-time high, with there now being almost 100,000 cases. Gay and bisexual men remain most at risk - making up 69 per cent of infections caught through having sex. Almost a third of those infected do not realise they have it. LGBT Labour says this highlights an urgent need to sustain efforts to raise awareness through better sex education in schools and targeted health promotions for adults. ‘We need to see the protection of vital services which are facing cuts at the hands of the Tory-led government,’ said Hannah Blythyn, co-chair of LGBT Labour. ‘In London alone HIV-related services are seeing cuts of more than 40 per cent and a reduction in the number of social workers and specialist support of those living with HIV - all at a time when resources need to be focused on raising awareness and prioritising testing in order to reverse the trend of HIV transmission.’ She added that the Health and Social Care Bill would create a postcode lottery of provision and distract from improving care for people living with HIV. Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: ‘These statistics make depressing reading. They show that the government's HIV strategy is flawed and failing. Ministers have dropped the ball on HIV. They are too complacent.’ GSN put these concerns to the Department of Health and received this response from a government spokesman: 'Our reforms won't fragment sexual health services - quite the opposite. 'Under our plans, the responsibility for virtually all sexual health services will go to local councils. This will deliver greater integration than currently exists. It will allow councils to make crucial links between improving sexual health and their other responsibilities.' Pictured is the 56 Dean Street sexual health clinic, a National Health Service clinic in London.
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