U.K. Failing To Meet Needs of HIV-Positive Residents, Report Says
Despite a strong commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS worldwide, the government of the United Kingdom is not meeting the needs of its HIV-positive residents, according to a report released on Wednesday by the National AIDS Trust, London's Guardian reports (Boseley, Guardian, 6/7). According to an NAT release, the report finds there is a "loss of political focus" to fight HIV/AIDS domestically, citing a November 2004 government policy paper on public health that does not mention HIV. The report says the government has diverted funding from HIV prevention programs (NAT release, 6/8). According to an Ipsos MORI poll commissioned by NAT and released in April, knowledge about HIV transmission has decreased in the past five years in Great Britain (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/11). The government also has supported policies that "ignore the human rights many of the most vulnerable to HIV infection, such as prisoners and migrants from high prevalence countries," according to the report (NAT release, 6/8). A recent decision by the U.K. Home Office authorizes hundreds of HIV-positive people living in the country -- where they are receiving antiretroviral therapy -- to be deported to their home countries (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/22). In addition, NAT said it does not know of any "high level" HIV/AIDS-related speeches made by Prime Minister Tony Blair or any of his cabinet ministers in the past two years, according to the report ("HIV in the United Kingdom; A Progress Report -- 2006," June 2006). There are about 60,000 HIV-positive people living in the United Kingdom, about 20,000 of whom do not know they are living with the virus. There was a record high 7,750 new HIV cases in 2005 (NAT release, 6/8).
Reaction, Similar Report
"The government needs to mirror its impressive international statements in its policies back at home," NAT CEO Deborah Jack said (NAT release, 6/8). A U.K. Department of Health spokesperson said, "HIV is an important part of a broader approach to improving sexual health, backed by an investment of [about $553 million]," adding, "We are undertaking all the measures that we signed up to and are proud of the progress we made" (Shoffman, pinknews.co.uk, 6/8). A similar report released last month by the Open Society Institute's Public Health Watch HIV/AIDS Monitoring project finds that the U.S. has fallen short of meeting goals on controlling HIV/AIDS domestically, set at the 2001 U.N. General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/25).