HIV charity questions government spending on international AIDS relief

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A UK charity that provides financial help to people in poverty living with HIV and AIDS has questioned why the government is proposing to spend £6 billion on international HIV projects.

Crusaid said more help was needed at home.

“While ministers in Whitehall are asking for more detail on the Department for International Development’s plans, we’d like to know why money can’t be found for the thousands of people in the UK who are living in poverty as a result of their HIV status,” said Jordan Hay, Head of Fundraising, Marketing and Communications for Crusaid.

Earlier today the Prime Minister released a statement marking World AIDS Day.

Gordon Brown said the British government has committed £6 billion for spending on health over seven years to 2015 and an additional £1 billion to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Crusaid said its Hardship Fund is plugging a gap in the welfare system that that shouldn’t exist.

“The Crusaid Hardship Fund is often the only place for people in the UK to turn when they are pushed into poverty as a result of HIV and AIDS,” Mr Hay said.

“Government systems are failing to support some of the nation’s most vulnerable people.

“It’s a sad indictment on the welfare system and the government today that Crusaid has had to step in and provide financial help to one third of all people living with HIV and AIDS in this country.”

In his World AIDS Day statement the Prime Minister said that the fight against AIDS in Britain required investment in education, prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

“That is why the government has increased funding to enable healthcare providers to meet their sexual health targets, and why particular effort is being placed on improving preventative interventions for homosexual men for whom rates of diagnoses have continued to increase,” he said.

“And that is why this year’s World AIDS Day focuses on the simple actions all of us can take to support those living with HIV and AIDS, to tackle prejudice wherever it occurs, and to protect ourselves and each other from infection.”

Crusaid said it has made more than 45,000 grants to people who live in poverty as a result of HIV and AIDS. The average income of a grant recipient is £60 per week.

The charity also works abroad and said it is glad that the government is making funds available to the international community but stressed it must look at the funding it is making available to people living with HIV and AIDS in the UK.

The Health Protection Agency estimates that there were 3,160 new HIV diagnoses among gay men in the UK in 2007, showing that numbers of new diagnoses are at their highest level ever since the mid 1980s.

Nearly 500 men were diagnosed after the point at which treatment should have begun, meaning they missed out on the benefits associated with early diagnosis including prolonged life expectancy.

Early diagnosis continues to be the most important factor in mortality and morbidity linked to HIV.

Analysis of figures over the past five years has shown that a late diagnosis of HIV meant that gay men were 13 times more likely to die within one year of diagnosis compared to those diagnosed early.