Cash-poor NHS fails HIV patients

People infected with HIV are being let down by the NHS, new research has found.

Funding to treat and support sufferers is being diverted
Funding to treat and support sufferers is being diverted
A report published last week by the Aids Funders Forum - a consortium of grant-making charities - revealed that, despite advances in medicine and the widespread use of anti-retroviral drugs, HIV does not have a high priority and funding is being swallowed up by NHS deficits.

Local targets were described as 'rare', while the search for funding was a 'constant pressure' on organisations and in many cases had a 'serious impact' on service delivery and long-term viability.

David Evans, an educational consultant in sexual health and manager of the RCN's sexual health skills course, said effective prevention in the form of education and condoms was essential and nurses had a key role in this.

He added that targets could help ensure that more is done, but said that as a 'single measure' it would not solve all the problems.

'Prevention is the preferred option on all grounds, not least the financial costs to the ongoing health bill of the nation, which is disproportionately very large,' he told Independent Nurse.

'Nurses and midwives can be essential in providing this service: school nurses, travel clinics, health checks, maternity services, drug and alcohol services, nurses working with young people ... the list is endless.'

A DoH spokesperson said £130 million was being invested in modernising sexual health clinics and services. 'PCTs have an essential role to play in commissioning effective sexual health services,' she said.

Elsewhere, the Society of Sexual Health Advisers (SSHA), a health arm of the union Amicus, has written to public health minister Caroline Flint asking where Choosing Health funds earmarked for sexual health have been spent.

SSHA president Jamie Hardie said at a time when the cases of STIs are 'rising in a worrying fashion' it is important to discover where the ‘missing millions' have gone. ‘The case for ring-fencing this money is very strong,' he added.

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