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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

HIV Warning: Funds Switch 'Will Increase Transmission'


Guardian (London) (02.06.02) - Wednesday, February 06, 2002

British AIDS groups are warning that HIV transmission will rise and ignorance of the virus will worsen as a result of the government's intention to scrap dedicated funding for local prevention work. Beginning in April, English localities will no longer be allocated funds specifically for HIV prevention projects. Instead, the money will be merged with general local health budgets, and it will be up to the new primary care trusts (PCTs) to determine their spending priorities.

The change comes at a time when HIV is spreading faster than ever in Britain. By 2005, the number of people living with HIV is predicted to climb by almost 50 percent. HIV/AIDS organizations fear that once dedicated funds are abolished, prevention work will shrink and, in some areas, disappear. Without an imperative on PCTs to undertake prevention work, they say, decisions on funding will be inconsistent.

"Effectively, HIV is being de-prioritized," said Lisa Power, head of policy at the Terrence Higgins Trust, an HIV/AIDS charity. Dedicated money has been a key factor in keeping Britain's HIV rate one of western Europe's lowest, Power said. "We're throwing that away. This decision will lead to a lot less information and support on the ground." New HIV cases hit a record 3,342 in England last year -- up 17 percent from the previous year. For the third year in a row, more heterosexuals were diagnosed than gay men. About 502 people die of AIDS in Britain each year. John Godwin, head of policy at the National AIDS Trust, fears that PCT decision- makers are "unlikely" to sustain funding for HIV prevention. "This issue is politically unpopular at local level as it involves the most marginalized groups," he said. A Department of Health spokesperson said the national strategy will include a safer sex campaign dealing with HIV. "We believe it is right and proper that HIV treatment and care and prevention services should now be brought into mainstream [National Health Service] delivery," she said.


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Information in this article was accurate in February 6, 2002. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.