Health and Social Care Committee Sexual health report 2 June 2019: response from British HIV Association
Sunday 2 June 2019
The Health and Social Care Committee Sexual Health Report (2 June 2019) mirrors concerns raised by members of the British HIV Association (BHIVA) in a joint survey undertaken with the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) in August and September of 2018. This survey endorses the Committee’s findings regarding inequalities resulting from funding cuts and the need to support and protect vulnerable populations and shares its concerns about the consequences of fragmented commissioning between local authorities, NHS England and primary care.
The UK is currently leading the way in meeting UNAIDS targets for HIV diagnosis and treatment, and Health Minister Matt Hancock has stated the aim to eradicate HIV by 2030. This will not be achievable if HIV prevention activity is disproportionately affected by funding cuts, as highlighted in the report. BHIVA welcomes the Committee’s recognition that Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is effective and should be "universally available" rather than subject to a "postcode lottery," sharing its conclusions that this is more "about funding pathways than effectiveness."
BHIVA also welcomes the call for a new national strategy to address the geographical variations that affect individuals and their communities across the country, and the call for sufficient funding at a national level to enable the delivery of high-quality health services and information to all. BHIVA members, alongside other stakeholders, are keen to contribute to the development of this strategy in the new national sexual health working group proposed by the Committee to set out the minimum levels of spending required to ensure all local areas are able to deliver high-quality services.
Comments BHIVA Chair Professor Chloe Orkin: "The Committee recognises that it is a false economy for cash-strapped local authorities to reduce overall spending on sexual health (14 per cent in the last five years 2013/14 to 2017/18, Kings Fund,) with a consequent impact on access to sexual health clinics, treatment and testing. In particular the 35 per cent reduction in local authority spending on advice, prevention and health promotion (2013/14 to 2017/18, Kings Fund) is counter-productive and has an especially severe impact on vulnerable groups.
"A clear strategy and sufficient funding are fundamental to an effective, joined-up service which would allow us to maximise the benefits of modern treatments, which not only ensure that people living with HIV can live a long and healthy life but mean there is no risk that they will pass it on to others. We would be able to reduce, and eventually prevent, new HIV diagnoses at a population level by increasing access to HIV testing and treatment and making Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) available to all who need it.
"As the Health and Social Care Committee points out, the fragmentation caused by the division of responsibilities for health care has led to a crisis in provision. This affects the care of patients, retention of the medical professionals who provide that care and ultimately the long-term health and well-being of the whole community."
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1. The British HIV Association (BHIVA) is the leading UK association representing professionals in HIV care. Since 1995, it has been committed to providing excellent care for people living with and affected by HIV. BHIVA is a national advisory body on all aspects of HIV care and provides a national platform for HIV care issues. Its representatives contribute to international, national and local committees dealing with HIV care. It promotes undergraduate, postgraduate and continuing medical education within HIV care.