London HIV funding cuts reversed

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Charity Gay Men Fighting AIDS has revealed that it has received an announcement from NHS London stating that HIV prevention funds for gay men will not be cut.

Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) have been told to back down on their previous stance that money was too tight.

“HIV prevention work for gay men in London was going to be cut by 36%, which would have meant that some of the existing services would just stop,” said Matthew Hodson, Head of Programmes for GMFA.

“These cuts would have been disastrous for gay men’s health. Thankfully the community pulled together, with the gay press rallying the troops to write letters and sign petitions.

“We’ve now heard that this hard work has paid off and funding will continue without the cuts.”

London’s PCTs had proposed switching funding for gay men’s projects to pay for prevention work in black African communities.

Gay groups argued that spending more on prevention work would be cost effective in the long run as NHS calculations showed that high HIV treatment costs mean spending between £500k and £1m on preventing just one HIV infection is cost effective.

The initial amount allocated to prevention work for gay men, African communities and treatment information for people living with HIV was £2.3m.

With the African prevention programme now likely to receive additional funding the budget has risen to around £2.8m say GMFA.

The current programme of London HIV prevention work for gay men includes GMFA’s websites and advertising campaigns, the Freedoms condom scheme, free counselling and groupwork services, sexual health booklets and outreach workers in gay venues.

NHS London reviewed the decision at a board meeting in light of the evidence and complaints and has now agreed that London’s PCTs have more than enough in this year’s financial surplus to increase HIV prevention funding by £540k, so that both programmes can go forward.

“It’s great news both for gay and black African communities,” added Hodson, “and a great start to the New Year.”