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Tower Hamlets HIV rates five times national average

PUBLISHED: 10:11 26 February 2013 | UPDATED: 10:11 26 February 2013

The proportion of people suffering from HIV in Tower Hamlets is five times higher than the national average, research shows.

One in every 130 people in the borough is HIV positive – compared to the national rate of one in 650.

Research published by HIV charity the National Aids Trust (NAT) shows that the figure has grown in the last 10 years. In 2002, the proportion of Tower Hamlets’ population living with HIV stood at one in every 200.

Campaigners are now calling on Tower Hamlets Council to ensure sexual health services are adequately funded when it is handed responsibility for public health spending from April.

Suzi Price, of the NAT, said: “We need strong commitment to HIV from the Mayor of Tower Hamlets and local councillors to ensure HIV prevention and testing continue to receive the necessary funding.”

The findings also showed 33 per cent of the population of people living with HIV in the borough are diagnosed after being infected for at least five years, decreasing their life expectancy and increasing their chances of passing it on.

Paul Fleming, of HIV charity Positive East which is based in Stepney Green, said the borough’s high levels of infection reflected its large gay and bisexual population, and the large numbers of African immigrants living the Tower Hamlets.

“We’re very concerned that local authorities continue to spend and allocate the budget on treatment when there is not enough spent on prevention”, he added.

“It costs us £15 to test someone for HIV, but if someone is infected to, they will cost the NHS £500,000 for a lifetime of treatment.”

Tower Hamlets Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing Cllr Abdul Asad pledged to protect funding for HIV prevention and sexual health services, but did not promise a kitty reserved exclusively for HIV spending.


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