British HIV/AIDS Groups Concerned That Elimination of Dedicated HIV Prevention Funding Will Lead to Rise in HIV Transmission
HIV/AIDS groups in the United Kingdom are concerned that the government's plan to "scrap dedicated funding" for local HIV prevention work by incorporating the funding into general local health budgets will lead to a rise in HIV transmission, the Guardian reports. Beginning in April, the government will no longer provide separate allotments designated only for HIV prevention work; instead, the money will be funneled into the general local health budgets, and local primary care trusts (PCTs) will be able to allocate funds to HIV and other priority areas as they choose. Communities had previously been allotted HIV/AIDS funding based on the size of the local adult population and the prevalence of infection in the region, but advocacy groups now fear that HIV prevention efforts will become "inconsistent" as local PCTs elect to spend the money on other projects. "Effectively, HIV is being de-prioritized. Trusts can spend as little as they like," Lisa Power of the Terrence Higgins Trust said, adding that the result may "lead to a lot less information and support on the ground." Critics of the plan say the dedicated funds have been a "key factor" in keeping the United Kingdom's HIV incidence rate among the lowest in western Europe, and they are concerned that prevention work will fall by the wayside. The need for increased prevention efforts was recently reinforced by a report that showed a 17% increase in new HIV cases last year. All HIV/AIDS groups that were consulted about the government's National Strategy on Sexual Health and HIV, which will be implemented this year, recommended against the abolition of the dedicated funding scheme, saying it "contradicts the aim of the strategy," which seeks to lower new infections by 25%. However, the groups were told the decision was "irreversible," Power said (Prasad, Guardian, 2/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.