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Government puts £8m into sexual health

Sexual health charities given three years’ extra funding to fight HIV

Louise Prime

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The Government has awarded contracts worth nearly £8m to sexual health charities to help them fight HIV and improve sexual health, it has announced. It particularly wants to tackle sexually transmitted infections in men who have sex with men, the group that has recently experienced the largest increase in infection rates.

The Terence Higgins Trust and partners have been awarded £6.7m funding over the next three years, towards work on preventing HIV infection in the worst-affected groups in England – men who have sex with men, and people from African communities. In 2010, 3000 new diagnoses of HIV were made in men who have sex with men, the highest-ever number in a single year.

Family Planning Association will receive £1.13m funding for its specialist sexual health information service for health workers and the public.

Public health minister Anne Milton warned that about a quarter of the nearly 100,000 HIV-infected people in the UK are unaware that they are carrying HIV, so they not only go without effective treatment themselves, they are also more likely to infect others.

She said: “One in 20 gay men and one in 20 black African men and women in England are HIV positive and in London this rises to one in every seven gay men.

“This money will help the Terrence Higgins Trust and FPA reach out to these communities. They will use a range of approaches including social media to encourage more people to come forward for testing.”

Sir Nick Partridge, chief executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “It’s within our grasp to significantly reduce the rates of new infections by working together with local authorities, clinical services and most importantly the communities most at risk of HIV. Our plans are exciting, ambitious, but achievable, and we’re proud to have been entrusted with this work.”

FPA’s chief executive Julie Bentley said: “FPA has delivered factual, accessible, and high quality sexual health information to the public and healthcare professionals for many years. We are delighted to have won this contract which is evidence of how respected and trusted our sexual health information continues to be.”

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