Borough’s HIV rate five times above national average

Pic: Notisia Deviantart

One in every 130 people in Tower Hamlets is tested as HIV positive, five times higher than the national average, according to a report by the Health Protection Agency.

This is an increase from one in every 200 in 2002.

The National AIDS Trust is lobbying for government spending to be allocated specifically towards prevention of the virus in the borough when the budget is handed to local authorities in April.

Suzi Price, spokesperson for the trust, said: “In April, Tower Hamlets council will for the first time be responsible for sexual health diagnosis and prevention. It has been allocated £3.1m by the government to spend on public health over the next year but worryingly within that budget there will be no ring fencing for HIV.

“We need strong commitment to HIV from the mayor of Tower Hamlets and local councillors to ensure HIV prevention and testing continue to receive the necessary funding. Disinvestment in HIV prevention and testing would seriously harm public health, especially in an area like Tower Hamlets which has a high rate of HIV.”

Campaign groups have also demanded that more is done to help with prevention as opposed to the current focus on treatment of HIV by the borough.

Paul Fleming, director of fundraising and communications at Positive East , an HIV charity, said: “We’re very concerned that local authorities continue to spend and allocate the budget on treatment when there is not enough spent on prevention.

“It costs us £15 to test someone for HIV, but if someone is infected, they will cost the NHS £500,000 for a lifetime of treatment.”

Councillor Asad, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said, “The council takes over commissioning responsibilities for sexual services from the NHS on 1 April 2013, and we are protecting funding for services relating to HIV prevention, sexual health services and sexual health and HIV health improvement during 2013-14. The health and wellbeing of all our residents is a key priority in Tower Hamlets.”


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