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London councils take steps to improve help for HIV in the capital

Released on 12 February 2013

Leaders of London’s councils today agreed to take decisive action together to improve HIV prevention services in the capital.

As they prepare to take on new public health responsibilities from 1 April, London boroughs have recognised that the HIV prevention activity they are inheriting is not meeting the needs of Londoners.  They have today initiated joint work to improve future commissioning of such services.

In the meantime, Leaders have agreed that some of the contracts from the current Pan London HIV Prevention Programme due to terminate on 31 March should be extended subject to more robust programme management – initially for six months and, subject to performance, potentially a further six months to ensure provision continues.  Final details will be resolved in the next few weeks.

London Councils Executive Member for Health, Councillor Teresa O’Neill, said:

“A new approach to HIV prevention is needed to make sure that Londoners are educated about HIV before it is too late.  An estimated 50 per cent of Londoners with HIV are diagnosed at a point where their immune system is damaged and treatment is needed. 

“Frankly, Londoners have not been well served by the approach to HIV prevention in the capital in recent years.  The transfer of responsibilities around HIV prevention to local authorities gives us an opportunity to look at the way services have been provided in the past and change them so they are more effective, better value for money and targeted in the right way.”

Nearly half of people with HIV in the UK live in London and more than a third of new diagnoses take place in the capital.  Terrence Higgins Trust, the charity which campaigns on issues around HIV and AIDS, points to an over-use of specialist clinics and an under-developed approach to community-based testing, care and support.

Directors of Public Health will lead joint work, involving stakeholders and experts, to develop a robust needs assessment to inform future commissioning of HIV prevention services.  This will also form the basis for decisions on the whether boroughs want to join together to commissioning some of these services on a pan-London basis in future.

Notes to editors:

Local authorities will be taking over responsibility for HIV prevention from Primary Care Trusts as part of their new public health functions, from 1st April 2013.  Treatment of HIV will remain with the NHS Commissioning Board.

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