MPs say people living with HIV face a “postcode lottery” in accessing vital HIV support services
Thursday 01 December 2016
On World AIDS Day, our Head of Policy Debbie Laycock looks at a new parliamentary report on the closure of HIV support services.
A new parliamentary report, released today by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on HIV and AIDS provides more evidence of the fragmentation of HIV services that is leading to the closure of HIV support services across England.
The report, 'The HIV puzzle', shows that the wholesale restructure of the NHS, brought about by the Health and Social Care Act 2012, has led to the splitting up of HIV and sexual health services.
The report highlights the complex structure that now sees a myriad of organisations including local authorities and NHS England commissioning different parts of essential HIV services.
The APPG also makes clear the lack of clarity that has appeared as a result with some vital services falling through the gaps. HIV specialist support services, including specialist advice and counselling, have been left vulnerable as there is no one organisation identified as being responsible for funding them.
In areas including Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham – which see the highest rates of HIV in the country – HIV specialist advice and counselling services have been reduced or fully scrapped, leading to a postcode lottery in access. More people than ever before are living with HIV and many require support services at times of crisis.
The APPG report reinforced the necessity of HIV support services concluding that their loss 'could lead to a significant public health failure in the not so distant future'.
Meeting the needs of people living with HIV is paramount. HIV support services are essential and need to be maintained across the country.
Find out more about our campaign to stop the cuts to HIV services.
|Debbie Laycock is Head of Policy and Parliamentary Affairs at Terrence Higgins Trust.|