Members of London Councils’ Leaders committee agreed today (Tuesday 12 November) that a limited number of key HIV prevention services aimed at gay men and African communities, including condom distribution and some outreach work, will be delivered on a London-wide basis from next year. They have allocated up to £3.4million from public health budgets to set up and run the programme until 2017.
The decision follows a needs assessment Opens in a new window, commissioned by London Councils, which brought together the latest evidence on what works in HIV prevention, including the views of service users.
London boroughs account for 18 out of 20 local authorities with the highest diagnosed prevalence rate of HIV in the country. New diagnoses of HIV rose by eight per cent in London from 2,615 in 2011 to 2,832 in 2012, reversing a downward trend since 2003.
Since taking over responsibility for public health in April, boroughs have spent at least £5million, individually and in small collective groups, on commissioning a wide range of services tailored to local communities. The London-wide programme Opens in a new window will sit alongside and complement these locally-commissioned projects.
Cllr Teresa O’Neill, London Councils’ Executive member for health, said: “It is alarming to see such a sharp rise in HIV diagnoses, but London boroughs have been quick to act.
“We commissioned a needs assessment in order to find out more about what was happening, which groups were involved and what services worked best.’
“Local authorities are well-placed to prevent the spread of HIV as they can commission services on a local level, tailored to the needs of their communities and links them into other services.
“However, we have recognised that there are some cases where it is more effective to work together on a London-wide basis’
In April this year it was announced that one of the leading sexual health charities GMFA and other HIV Charities were facing uncertain futures after funding by the Pan-London HIV Prevention Programme had been substantially reduced.