A 50% cut in a HIV prevention project funding could have grave consequences, the UK’s National AIDS Trust (NAT) has warned today.
The funding for the programme HIV Prevention England (HPE) has been halved from £2.4 million ($3.5 million â‚¬3.4 million) to £1.2 million ($1.8 million â‚¬1.7 million),with a further £1.2 million allocated to a mixture of testing services and grants.
NAT CEO Deborah Gold said today (13 March): ‘We are deeply concerned about the level of upheaval to HIV prevention provision across the country.
‘Important enabling infrastructure will be significantly compromised by the gap in funding.’
The British Parliament yesterday announced (12 March) £500,000 ($737,000 â‚¬695,000) is being invested into a new Innovation Fund to tackle HIV
But Gold warns that is not enough: ‘The new Innovation Fund may help to plug the gap but will not be issuing grants until well after the current program comes to an end this month.’
In the last 12 months, only £15 million was spent across the UK on HIV prevention, dwarfed by the £55 million which was spent in the years 2001/02 and the £37 million in 2007-8.
The number of people living with HIV in the UK has trebled since 2001, and more and more people are being diagnosed with the virus every year.
Meanwhile a survey out this week showed three quarters of 14 to 19 year olds were taught nothing about gay or lesbian sex in schools.
In 58 areas with high numbers of HIV positive people – more than two with the virus per 1,000 people, and less than 1% of local authority public health cash is spent on prevention. That’s just £0.70 ($1 â‚¬1) per person, per year.
In these areas the National Health Service spends 55 times more treating people with HIV than it does stopping people from getting it in the first place.
In 2016 a ring-fence, to stop public health funds being spent on anything else, will be lifted which could make the problem worse.