The UK’s ‘woefully inadequate’ efforts to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS was the subject debated yesterday in a House of Lords marking World AIDS Day, when it discussed the ‘No vaccine, no cure report’, which was published in September.
The Lords Committee on HIV and AIDS in the UK reported that the numbers accessing care had trebled since 2000 and the number of people living with HIV was due to rise above 100,000 in 2012.
The report identified that while £762m a year was spent on treatment for HIV and AIDS in the UK just £2.9m was spent on prevention. Estimates for the cost of a lifetime of treatment for someone with HIV is between £280,000 and £360,000 meaning a greater focus and investment in prevention of the disease would provide financial as well as health benefits.
The Committee recommended that the Department of Health should undertake a new national prevention campaign using a broad range of media to ensure key messages around prevention of HIV transmission are understood by the public and acted upon.
Members of the Lords taking part in the debate
Lord Fowler, Chairman of the Lords Committee on HIV and AIDS opened the debate.
Health Minister, Baroness Northover, replied for the Government. Other speakers included Baroness Massey of Darwen, Chair of the National Treatment Agency.
Speaking of the Committee’s findings, Lord Fowler said:
‘The basis of our report is that priority should be given to preventing HIV and AIDS in the United Kingdom. So far, the effort has been wholly inadequate over the past decade and a new priority must now be given to prevention policies if the epidemic is to be stemmed. Our belief is that HIV and AIDS remain one of the most serious public health issues confronting the Government at the start of the 21st century.’
Lord Fowler went on to say that ‘Prevention, either against HIV or in any other area, is not one of the most costly programmes for the health service. We need a new prevention initiative. That is good financial investment for the health service, but above all it is a good human investment in that it can avoid so much avoidable suffering and distress.’
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