Tag Archives: politics

David Cameron says approving PrEP on NHS will “make a difference”

david cameron

David Cameron has announced that he will push the NHS for a decision on PrEP availability “in this month if possible”.

During the Prime Minister’s Questions today, Cameron spoke in favour of funding the Pre-exposure Prophylactic treatment Truvada on the NHS.

Article via GayTimes
Gay-times-logo

The treatment – which has been approved by the World Health Organisation – is already available for those deemed at risk of HIV in the United States, Canada, France and Israel.

PrEP can reduce people’s chances of contracting the virus if taken daily, however in March this year the NHS decided to prolong their decision instead of making the drug available.

Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer asked Cameron: “HIV infection rates in the UK are on the rise, and my right honourable friend will be aware that NHS England have refused to fund Pre-exposure Prophylactic treatment.

“Will my right honourable friend agree to meet with me in leading AIDS charities, so that we can review this unacceptable decision?”

The Prime Minister responded: “I think it’s right that [Mr Freer] raises this – it is my understanding that NHS England are considering their commissioning responsibility.

“I want them to reach a decision on this quickly, in this month if possible, because there’s no doubt there is a rising rate of infection. These treatments can help and make a difference.

“We are planning trial sites that are already all underway, we’ve invested £2 million to support these over the next two years. He’s right to raise this and I’ll make sure he gets the meetings he needs to make progress with it.”

Although there are no fixed dates, nor was Cameron very detailed in his answer, this is the most positive reply from the Government about PrEP so far.

Ian Green, CEO at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “We welcome David Cameron committing NHS England to making a long overdue decision on HIV prevention game changer, PrEP, this month.

“We urgently need NHS England to make PrEP available for those most at risk. Every day this is delayed, seven men who have sex with men are infected with HIV.”

He also thanked Mike Freer MP for “continuing to champion this life changing HIV prevention tool”.

Want More? – You might find this interesting: David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband praise HIV prevention drug PrEP

Thanks for reading, let us know what you think in the comments below, or you can find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for more!

TWB  FBB

Or subscribe to our newsletter

HIV Positive Votes in the General Election 2015

partyleaders

It’s only a week until the general election on Thursday, 7th May. It looks like being the closest election in living memory, meaning the way you vote could be the most important political decision of your life.

With lots of talk about care, health and the NHS, it’s difficult to see where our political parties position themselves in terms of support for people living with HIV. This isn’t surprising as focus tends to be put on financing and restructuring health and social care, rather than on individual health conditions.

Do you know who your voting for yet or are you still not sure? – If you’re not, you are not alone! Polls show that more people than ever before are still trying to decide which of the parties to support.

Part of the problem is information overload. We’re drowning in fact and figures about politics, claims and counter-claims from the politicians and their spin-doctors. How is anyone supposed to cut through it all to the things that really matter to them?

You may be asking, as a HIV positive individual, what party will ensure my care, and what HIV (or anti-HIV) policies can I expect from our government and now is the time to decide if you prefer to vote for the status quo, or vote for change.

A HIV diagnoses is only part of the issue, what to matters is access to GP’s and ensuring our NHS is adequately staffed to support patients in need of medical assistance. While there’s no direct messages from our political leaders about HIV, (other than sensationalised media reports) we can see their pledges for health & social care which directly affects not just people living with HIV, but for many other people who use public services.

The following information is provided to help give clarity across the parties’ pledges.  We are obviously not advising you who to vote for but we hope this information is useful if you are yet to make up your mind.

What is the main message?

ConsA strong NHS built on a strong economy, prioritising frontline care

 

labWill rescue the NHS, invest in its future and join up services from
home to hospital

lib-d

Quality health for all, with a guarantee of equal care for mental health

 

ukipFund frontline services and encourage a common-sense approach with less political interference

greenA publicly funded, publicly provided NHS and an end to the privatisation of services

How much money have they pledged for the NHS?

ConsA minimum real-terms increase of £8 billion a year by 2020

 

labAn annual £2.5 billion ‘time to care’ fund, paid for by a mansion tax, a levy on tobacco firms and by tackling tax avoidance

lib-dFunding to be £8 billion a year higher by 2020

 

ukipIncrease frontline NHS spending by £3 billion a year by 2020

 

greenAn immediate increase of £12 billion a year, rising to £20 billion a year by 2020, raising some of the extra revenue from higher taxes on alcohol and tobacco

What about social care?

ConsNo commitment to increase social care funding.  A guarantee that no one will have to sell their home to fund residential social care.

labNo commitment to increase social care funding. Year-of-care budgets to incentivise better care at home, an end to 15-minute home care visits and a ban on zero-hours contracts for care workers.

lib-dNo commitment to increase social care funding. Reduce pressure on hospitals by investing £500 million a year in services close to people’s homes.

ukipIncrease social care funding by £1.2 billion a year by 2020

 

greenProvide free social care for older people, spending an additional £9 billion a year by 2020

 

Have they committed to delivering integrated care?

ConsYes – building on the Better Care Fund and proposals to pool £6 billion of health and social care funding in Greater Manchester

labYes – physical health, mental health and social care services to be integrated to provide ‘whole-person care’, with a stronger role for health and wellbeing boards

lib-dYes – all health and social care budgets to be pooled by 2018, a stronger role for health and wellbeing boards and responsibility for social care to be transferred to the Department of Health

ukipYes – fully integrate health and social care funding and responsibilities, under the control of the NHS

greenYes – social care to be provided free at the point of use in line with the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Health and Social Care in England

 

And do they support the NHS five year forward review?

ConsYes – senior Conservatives have publicly backed it, and their funding commitments are closely tied to it

labIn principle – Andy Burnham has stated his support but made clear Labour would make ‘fundamental changes’ that would alter the assumptions it is based on.

lib-dYes – senior Liberal Democrats have made their support clear, and they were the first party to commit to the £8 billion funding increase it calls for

ukipNo mention of it

 

greenNo mention of it

 

What are their plans to access to services?

ConsAll patients to have access to GPs and hospital care seven days a week by 2020.  Guaranteed same-day appointment with a GP for everyone over 75.

labGuaranteed GP appointments within 48 hours, or on the same day for those who need it.  A maximum one-week wait for cancer tests and results by 2020

lib-dEasier access to GPs, expanding evening and weekend opening, and
encouraging phone and Skype appointments

ukipInitiate a pilot programme to put GPs on duty in A&E departments seven days a week.  Fund 8,000 new GP posts, with 1,000 of these designated to work on duty in A&E departments if the pilot programme is successful

greenProvide local community health centres offering a range of services including out-of-hours care, to sit alongside GP surgeries

 

Have they committed to more staff?

ConsYes – 5,000 more GPs to be trained by 2020

 

labYes – the ‘time to care’ fund would pay for 20,000 nurses, 8,000 GPs, 5,000 care workers and 3,000 midwives

lib-dNo specific pledge

 

ukipYes – an extra 20,000 nurses, 8,000 GPs and 3,000 midwives

 

greenYes – 400,000 jobs to be created across health and social care

 

What pledges have the made about mental health?

ConsEnsure that psychological therapists are available in every part of the country. Ensure that women have access to mental health support during and after pregnancy

labIncrease the proportion of the mental health budget spent on children A new right to psychological therapy in the NHS Constitution

lib-dAn extra £500 million a year for mental health services to improve access and reduce waiting times A raft of proposals to improve mental health services, in particular for children, pregnant women and new mothers.

ukipIncrease mental health funding by £170 million a year
End the postcode lottery for psychiatric liaison services in acute hospitals and A&E departments

greenEnsure that spending on mental health rises and that everyone who needs a mental health bed can access one in their local NHS, or within a reasonable distance of their home if specialist care is required.  Eliminate the use of police cells as ‘places of safety’ for children by 2016, and for adults, other than in exceptional circumstances, by the end of the
next parliament

What are they saying about public health?

ConsReview how best to support people with conditions such as obesity or drug or alcohol addictions to remain in or return to work

labSet maximum limits on levels of fat, salt and sugar in food marketed to children.  Set a new national ambition to improve the uptake of physical activity and take targeted action on cheap, high-alcohol drinks.

lib-dRestrict the marketing of junk food to children. Introduce a tax levy on tobacco companies to contribute to the costs of smoking cessation services and implement minimum unit pricing for alcohol

ukipOppose minimum pricing of alcohol and reverse plain packaging legislation for tobacco products.

greenIntroduce a minimum price of 50p per unit for alcoholic drinks
Extend VAT to less healthy foods, including sugar, spending the money raised on subsidising around one-third of the cost of fresh fruit and vegetables.

 Would they repeal the Health and Social Care act?

Cons No.

 

lab

A bill in their first Queen’s Speech to repeal the Act – this would roll back competition, make the NHS the preferred provider of services and restore the Health Secretary’s responsibility to provide a comprehensive health service

lib-dNo, but committed to repealing any parts of the Act that make NHS services ‘vulnerable to forced privatisation’ and ending the role of the Competition and Markets Authority in health

ukipNo

 

greenYes – repeal the Act by introducing an NHS Reinstatement Bill to abolish competition and the commissioner–provider split and restore the Health Secretary’s responsibility to provide a comprehensive health service.

Election Manifestos

You can find all the information above and more policies within the party manifesto’s.  Click on the icons below to visit the party’s manifesto.

ConsConservative

 

labLabour

 

lib-dLiberal Democrats

 

ukipUKIP

 

greenGreen

 

 

STAY UPDATED
Follow LASS on Twitter
or subscribe by email
Visit Well For Living
for well-being news and info or follow_THEM-a copy

Tough austerity measures in Greece leave nearly a million people with no access to healthcare, leading to soaring infant mortality, HIV infection and suicide

A woman walks a closed branch Greek state health fund EOPYY in an Athens suburb

A woman walks a closed branch Greek state health fund EOPYY in an Athens suburb

Austerity measures imposed by the Greek government since the economic crisis have inflicted “shocking” harm on the health of the population, leaving nearly a million people without access to healthcare, experts have said.

In a damning report on the impact of spending cuts on the Greek health system, academics found evidence of rising infant mortality rates, soaring levels of HIV infection among drug users, the return of malaria, and a spike in the suicide count.

Greece’s public hospital budget was cut by 25 per cent between 2009 and 2011 and public spending on pharmaceuticals has more than halved, leading to some medicine  becoming unobtainable, experts from Oxford, Cambridge and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) said.

Rising unemployment in a country where health insurance is linked to work status has led to an estimated 800,000 people lacking either state welfare or access to health services and in some areas international humanitarian organisations such as Médecins du Monde have stepped in to provide healthcare and medicines to vulnerable people.

The report, which is published today in the medical journal The Lancet, accuses the Greek government and the international community – which demanded swingeing cuts as a condition of bailing out the Greek economy during the debt crisis between 2010 and 2012 – of being “in denial” about the scale of hardship inflicted on the Greek people.

Health employees demonstrate outside the Health Ministry in Athens

Health employees demonstrate outside the Health Ministry in Athens (Getty Images)

Health employees demonstrate outside the Health Ministry in Athens (Getty Images)“The cost of austerity is being borne mainly by ordinary Greek citizens, who have been affected by the largest cutbacks to the health sector seen across Europe in modern times,” said senior author Dr David Stuckler, of Oxford University. “We hope this research will help the Greek government mount an urgently needed response to these escalating human crises.”

Greece was forced to make massive cutbacks to meet the terms of twin bailout packages, totalling €240 billion, offered by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, known as the Troika. Health spending was capped at six per cent of GDP.

Analysis of figures from the EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions survey revealed a leap in the number of people with unmet health needs, the authors said. The cost of healthcare has been significantly shifted away from the state and towards patients, with new fees for prescriptions introduced and charges for out-patient visits to hospital raised from €3 to €5 .

Government disease prevention schemes have also been rolled back leading to the resurgence and revival of once rare infectious diseases – including malaria, which has returned to Greece for the first time in 40 years.

“There are a whole series of infectious diseases which have been kept at bay over the past 50 or 60 years by strengthened public health efforts,” Martin McKee, professor of European public health at LSHTM and one of the report’s co-authors, told TheIndependent. “If you lift up your guard, as the Greek example shows, they can very easily exploit those changes.

“The experience of Greece demonstrates the necessity of assessing the health impact of all policies carried out by national governments and by the European Union.”

People stand outside the

People stand outside the “Polyklikini”, one of the hospitals affected by overhaul of the health sector (Getty Images)

People stand outside the “Polyklikini”, one of the hospitals affected by overhaul of the health sector (Getty Images)Prevention and treatment programmes for illicit drug users faced major cuts, with a third of street work programmes halted in 2009-10, the first year of austerity. Reductions in the numbers of syringes and condoms distributed to known drug users has led directly to a spike in the rate of HIV infections in this community, the report said – from just 15 in 2009 to 484 in 2012.

Although reliable data on the health impact on the wider population will take several years to emerge, the Greek National School of Public Health reported a 21 per cent rise in stillbirths between 2008 and 2011, which was attributed to reduced access to prenatal services, and infant mortality also rose by 43 per cent between 2008 and 2010.

The suicide rate has gone up from around 400 in 2008 to nearly 500 in 2011.

Alexander Kentikelenis, researcher in sociology at the University of Cambridge and the report’s lead author, said that the Greek welfare state had “failed to protect people at the time they needed support the most.”

“What’s happening to vulnerable groups in Greece is quite shocking,” he told The Independent. “It’s quite straightforward to measure what has happened, it’s much harder to quantify the long-term health implications for the long-term unemployed and uninsured…Leaving health problems to get out of hand ends up costing a state much more in the long run.”

The Greek Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity did not respond to a request for comment.

Case study

The Metropolitan Community Clinic at Helliniko in Athens was founded in December 2011. It is run by volunteer doctors and provides free healthcare to people without medical insurance

Co-founder Christos Sideris told The Independent: “The healthcare situation in Greece is, unfortunately, dramatic. We have helped more than 4,400 patients, with more than 20,300 appointments in 26 months of operation. We look after more than 300 children below the age of three, and have helped 126 cancer patients to receive chemotherapy, in collaboration with a public hospital. This is not done in an official capacity, but by the people working there, every Wednesday after working hours, with donated medicines.

We have three basic rules: we accept no money from anyone, we have no party politics, and we do not advertise anyone for the help they are offering us. We only accept money from our own volunteers – there are 250 of them at the moment. These volunteers do fundraisers and give money to the clinic. The local municipality also helps us. Our medicines are all donated. There are more than 40 community clinics and pharmacies like us across Greece. They cannot solve the problem – we’re only here because there is a need for us to exist. We cannot substitute a public health system and we do not want to.”

STAY UPDATED
Follow LASS on Twitter
or subscribe by email
Visit Well For Living
for well-being news and info or follow_THEM-a copy

Greece’s 200% increase in HIV shows how disastrous austerity can be for public health

Austerity measures in Greece are raising red flags, and red ribbons. (AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis)

Austerity measures in Greece are raising red flags, and red ribbons. (AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis)

One day in late March 2013, European finance and health ministry officials met at the OECD’s Paris office to discuss how healthcare systems are faring in times of austerity.

On the second day of the two-day conference, Greek finance ministry official Evdoxia Andrianopoulou read from a series of brown-colored PowerPoint slides riddled with details of attrition and savings. Greece’s cuts were deep, of the sort commonly seen in a corporate turnaround – but rarely on a government’s balance sheet, and almost never to healthcare expenses.

The takeaway from the meeting – according to two people who attended it – was that Greek officials knew that these huge cuts would result in the curtailing of essential services for their people. But the officials were working under the stress of having to meet a financial target set by their tri-party group of creditors: the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Central Bank. And so they delivered.

According to an Austrian finance ministry official who attended the meeting, participants in the room “were in a state of shock” after Andrianopoulou concluded her talk. Another attendee who asked that he not be quoted said “a pin-drop silence” filled the room.

Meanwhile, across the Channel in London, academics were preparing to release a study in “The Lancet” on the healthcare crisis that has followed deep budget cuts in Southern Europe.

One of that work’s principal researchers, David Stuckler of Oxford University, warned that not just Greece, but also Spain and Portugal, faced a potential healthcare disaster due to their own steep budget cuts.

Yet of the three crisis-stricken countries, Greece seems to have suffered the most.

“Greece is an example of perhaps the worst case of austerity leading to public health disasters,” Mr. Stuckler explained in a telephone interview.

“After mosquito spraying programs were cut, we’ve seen a return of malaria, which the country has kept under control for the past four decades. New HIV infections have jumped more than 200 percent,” he noted.

Malaria returned because municipal governments lacked the funds to spray against mosquitoes. HIV spiked because government needle exchange programs ran out of clean syringes for heroin addicts. By Stuckler’s estimate, the average Greek junkie requires 200 clean needles in a given year.

“But now they’re only getting three a year each,” Stuckler said.

Athenian drug addicts sharing needles or malaria-carrying mosquitoes biting Spartans have put Greece in the media spotlight over the past few months. But a decidedly less headline-grabbing fact is this: cuts taken over the last two years could look even worse a few years from now.

“The thing about healthcare systems,” the OECD’s Ankit Kumar explained in a telephone interview, “Is you cut the money today, and start to see the cuts’ impact at least three to four years from now. You know that people aren’t getting their medications. But it takes a couple of years before this manifests itself in high levers of sickness, fewer people being able to work, and more people facing shorter lives. Given the consequences of what has happened in Greece, these outcomes are just going to get worse and worse.”

Some experts have suggested that Greece’s budgetary ax fell unduly hard on its healthcare sector, which was slated to grow at around 4 percent annually, but which has instead been jolted by a series of wage freezes, firings, and drug rationing programs. Economists around the world warned of the cuts’ consequences – but it was the Greeks themselves who opted for deep gashes to their healthcare system.

“IMF doesn’t say ‘you have to cut 10 percent of your economy, but you can’t close hospitals or schools.’ Where the cuts are made remains a country’s sovereign right,” Kumar explained.

This spring has been an important time for healthcare research in Europe because data now confirm – as if there was any doubt – that in healthcare, too, the gulf between Europe’s north and its south has continued to widen.

Last year, while Greece went about adjusting to its new slimmed-down healthcare reality, German’s ministry of health contacted the OECD for its help in studying the exact opposite problem. German healthcare costs were ballooning, but only a third of the growth could be linked to Germans becoming sicker or aging.

The OECD’s research on Germany was published this spring, at nearly the same time that the full picture of Greece’s healthcare tragedy came into form.

OECD researchers compared Germany to its peers, and came to a simple conclusion: German doctors seem to be prescribing treatments, operations, and hospital stays more often than might be medically necessary. That this is occurring while Germany’s neighbors just a two-hour plane ride away in Athens face the worse healthcare and societal crisis in their history only underscores the much publicized idea that Europe is growing apart.

One statistic was especially telling: the OECD average for hospital beds per 1,000 patients sits at 4.9; in the case of Germany, it’s 8.3. France has 6.4, while the U.S. has 3.1.

“The difference in the medical science between the United States, Germany, and France is not so great that it can justify 70 percent higher numbers in Germany than the OECD average,” Kumar said.

Kumar and his co-author, Michael Schoenstein, theorized that because Germany has more hospitals than it needs, doctors and hospitals appear to be steering patients towards more expensive in-patient procedures and then tacking on multiple night hospital stays in order to fill hospital beds and submit payments to Germany’s essentially unlimited system of insurance reimbursements.

“These are big institutions that want to be busy,” Kumar said. “After investing millions, and in some cases billions of dollars, into the infrastructure, no one wants to have these institutions running at 60 percent. They know that if hospitals aren’t full, someone’s going to point the finger and say ‘hold on a second, you’re running at 60 percent capacity regularly, why do you have all of these empty beds, we need to get rid of that.’”

***

The OECD lacks clear data on how many Greeks have been denied medical care during the country’s economic crisis. But anecdotal reports have shown that people are being deprived care.

The New York Times reported that “breast cancer patients often have to wait three months now to have tumors removed” and that at least 2,000 patients in need of bypass surgery haven’t been scheduled for procedures.

Could the solution to Greeks’ healthcare crisis be to send patients north to Germany’s hospitals? With Europe’s common market, citizens’ freedom of movement, couldn’t Greeks just fly north for treatment?

“Yes, EU citizens can travel to other EU countries for treatment,” OECD’s Michael Schoenstein explained, “But for planned treatments like cancer treatments, they need prior approval from their healthcare insurers at home. It’s theoretically possible, but practically very difficult.”

STAY UPDATED
Follow LASS on Twitter
or subscribe by email
Visit Well For Living
for well-being news and info or follow_THEM-a copy

David Cameron’s HIV Hypocrisy

david cameron

Just a few weeks ago David Cameron and other MPs sat in the House of Commons and wore red World AIDS Day ribbons for a community they clearly don’t understand.

“The ribbon is the universal symbol of HIV awareness and it was good to see so many MPs showing solidarity with people who live with HIV in the UK and around the world,”  ​said Cameron in his statement on December 1st. “Whilst the overall number of new diagnoses last year was down slightly on 2010, there was an increase amongst men who have sex with men. And a quarter of people living with HIV don’t know they have it. I am absolutely clear that there can be no complacency in our fight against HIV and AIDS.”

Cameron concluded by saying how the red ribbon is about more than showing solidarity with those living with HIV in the UK and abroad.

“It should also be a spur to increase testing and a symbol of our commitment to carrying on work to reduce infection levels whilst tackling the stigma, discrimination and prejudice often associated with HIV and sexual health.”

But we’ve heard it all before. Politicians deliver compassionate messages one day and deliver crushing blows the next. Despite more and more young people  ​being diagnosed HIV positive because of a lack of information about the issue, the government has announced that there will be ​devastating cuts to the national HIV prevention programme in England.

Funding will be halved for the year commencing April 2015 and there is, as yet, no government commitment to fund further years of the programme. It seems like yet another complete refusal to believe that the most imperative is needed at ground-level.

“This is not the right time for the government to pare back spending on HIV prevention,” says Dr Rosemary Gillespie, Chief Executive at  ​Terrence Higgins Trust. “In recent years, we have made good progress in driving down rates of undiagnosed and late-diagnosed HIV. However, tens of thousands of people with HIV across England are still undiagnosed and at increased risk of passing the virus on unwittingly. We have not yet reached the tipping point in our fight against the epidemic, and halving government spending on HIV prevention now would be a regressive step that risks undermining the headway we have made.”

The government’s ill-considered decision is in direct contradiction to Simon Stevens’ ‘ ​NHS Five Year Forward View‘, released in October. “The future health of millions of children, the sustainability of the NHS, and the economic prosperity of Britain all now depend on a radical upgrade in prevention and public health,” he wrote. “Twelve years ago, Derek Wanless’ health review warned that unless the country took prevention seriously we would be faced with a sharply rising burden of avoidable illness. That warning has not been heeded – and the NHS is on the hook for the consequences.”

Stevens’ report has been immensely influential and all the main political parties have expressed their support for its vision for the future of the NHS. It is striking that, within weeks of the government stating its support for the health vision of this publication, they are expressly contradicting one if its key tenets – the absolute centrality of prevention if we are to regain control of NHS finances.

“We have not yet reached the tipping point in our fight against the epidemic, and halving government spending on HIV prevention now would be a regressive step that risks undermining the headway we have made”  – Dr Rosemary Gillespie, Chief Executive, Terrence Higgins Trust

In 2004 there were 38,117 people with diagnosed HIV living in England. In 2013, that figure had risen to 74,760. Meanwhile, funding for HIV prevention work has drastically declined during that same period while transmission rates soared. Rather than increasing its efforts to tackle the spread of HIV and the existing stigma, the government’s response is to further squeeze the sector of its resources.

What’s more shocking still is how the government cuts affect two specific minority communities. The national HIV prevention programme focuses on two groups – men who have sex with men, and black African men and women. Yusef Azad of  ​National AIDS Trust agrees that the government is ignoring the needs of these communities.

“HIV is a health inequalities issue, since it disproportionately affects these minorities. Were British-born heterosexuals seeing the same percentages getting HIV as gay men and Africans there would be immense efforts by government to address the problem. When gay men and Africans experience such a public health crisis the response is to reduce further already inadequate funding.”

What this farce highlights is that the government, yet again, is looking for short-term gain at long-term sacrifice. Save money today, but let’s not think about the consequences of tomorrow.  Azad agrees. “All governments pay lip-service to this principle and to the fact prevention is cost-effective and often cost-saving. It is only in a time of budgetary pressure that we learn whether they really mean it.

Preventing just one HIV transmission saves the public purse ​£360,777, according to recent modelling. The national prevention programme pays for itself many times over. “This cut will not save £1 million, says Azad. “It will mean spending many millions in preventable treatment costs.”

STAY UPDATED
Follow LASS on Twitter
or subscribe by email
Visit Well For Living
for well-being news and info or follow_THEM-a copy

Tory warns sex health cash cuts could lead to rise in HIV cases

Tory councillor Roy Webb is concerned about the impact of spending cuts on sexual health services.

Tory councillor Roy Webb is concerned about the impact of spending cuts on sexual health services.

FEARS of an increase in HIV infection rates in Derby if cuts proposed by the city council go ahead have been voiced.

Tory opposition councillor Roy Webb’s comments came after a letter opposing one of the cuts was sent to the authority by us, Leicestershire Aids Support Services.

The authority is proposing to cut £430,000 from the sexual health budget in the 2014-15 financial year.  The mooted cut was included in its recent consultation on how it will find £9 million of savings on top of £20 million already found.

It says the move would involve “ending service contracts for specialist sexual health promotion services,” and renegotiating contracts for “sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy testing”.

The document adds that the council wants to “refocus free oral emergency contraception to under-18s available to pharmacy outlets only”.  The city council was, on Friday, asked for more details but said it was unable to provide them.

But Mark Tittley, cabinet member for adults and health, said that, if the cuts went ahead, the council “would still continue to fulfil our statutory and moral duty to provide open access sexual health services to all within our community who need them, including people affected by HIV/Aids”.

Mr Webb, who is shadow cabinet member for health and adult care, said part of the cuts would hit Derbyshire Positive Support which gives confidential, stigma-free, support to people with HIV, and their families.

He said: “The withdrawal of contract funding for Derbyshire Positive Support may well, if it follows the national trend, increase infection rates as it has in areas where similar services have been decommissioned.”

A letter to the council from Leicestershire AIDS Support Services carries another warning.

It says: “Cuts will increase the likelihood of early death, and ill-health resulting in high levels of need for costly social care support and can be avoided by maintaining effective local services.”

Mr Webb added that, having met with a “public health official”, it was clear that any savings made in the budget were not going to be used to improve services elsewhere but “just used to support the council’s budget position”.

He said: “I think this a dangerous position to take as the on-going health and social care cost of failing to support these services could be much more expensive than keeping them.”

Mr Tittley said: “It is important to note that if these proposals are accepted by the council, we will still continue to fulfil our statutory and moral duty to provide open access sexual health services to all within our community who need them, including people affected by HIV/Aids.”

STAY UPDATED
Follow LASS on Twitter
or subscribe by email
Visit Well For Living
for well-being news and info or follow_THEM-a copy

Bill to lift ban on HIV positive organ donation passes House committee

Red-Green-Organ-Donation-Ri

USA: A bill which could eventually allow the donation of HIV positive organs to HIV positive recipients has passed the House after having passed the US Senate back in June.

The HIV Organ Policy Equity Act (HOPE), which is sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans would allow organs from HIV positive people to be donated to HIV positive recipients, and more so would allow researchers to study the safety of such practice.

The Human Rights Campaign also commended the passage of the bill. Back in March, the HRC praised the passage of the bill in the Senate Committe, and in June it passed in the full Senate.

“The HOPE Act represents sound public health policy,” said HRC legislative director Allison Herwitt. “The action by the House Energy & Commerce Committee is a major step forward in removing an outdated barrier which impedes access to lifesaving transplants for persons living with HIV and AIDS.”

HIV-positive patients in the US have been lobbying for the right to receive HIV-infected transplant organs for some time. They argue that there are hundreds of HIV-infected organs available every year and that making the change would save lives and give more people the chance of a transplant.

There are more than 100,000 actively waiting for life-saving organs, and around 50,000 more are added annually, and lifting the ban could decrease waiting time for all.

Allowing organs from HIV positive donors to HIV positive recipients with liver or kidney failure could save up to 1,000 people each year.

The ban on HIV positive organ donation was put in place in 1988, and aruments for it being lifted come partly from the fact that the treatment of HIV and AIDS has advanced significantly since.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued draft Public Health Service Guidelines in September 2011, recommending research in this area, but said that in the US, federal law blocks it from taking place.

Over 40 medical and patient advocacy groups endorse the act, including the United Network for Organ Sharing, which manages the US’s organ transplant system.

STAY UPDATED
Follow LASS on Twitter
or subscribe by email
 
Visit Well For Living
for well-being news and info  or follow_THEM-a copy