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Public Health England offers £600K to prevent HIV

Organisations encouraged to run innovative, targeted local projects to tackle HIV spread

Louise Prime

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Public Health England is offering a share of £600,000 funding for HIV prevention initiatives targeted at specific local populations, it announced this morning. PHE said it is supporting innovative local projects because they can focus on those most at need in their areas, reducing spread of infection in particularly vulnerable populations.

PHE said that more than one in six (17%) of the estimated 103,700 people in the UK who are infected with human immunodeficiency virus are unaware that they are carrying HIV, and so could unintentionally pass the virus on to others. But the estimated prevalence of HIV infection varies hugely between different demographic groups – it is nearly 1 in 1,000 in heterosexual people aged 15-24, but as high as 1 in 20 among men who have sex with men (MSM) in the same age group. New diagnosis rates are also rising among MSM as they fall in the overall population. Prevalence is also much higher among black African communities, where 1 in 56 men and 1 in 22 women are believed to be living with HIV.

PHE wants to encourage initiatives aimed at preventing people from contracting or passing on HIV in the highest-risk groups, and it has announced a national HIV Prevention Innovation Fund of up to £600,000 for 2016-17. Eligible projects can apply for the fund from today until 16th June. PHE said it would particularly welcome proposals from local voluntary organisations that will target:

  • diagnosis for both HIV and other sexually transmitted infections
  • stigma associated with HIV
  • other risky behaviours that can increase risk of contracting HIV such as drug and alcohol misuse
  • the integration of HIV prevention into wider sexual and reproductive health

Public health minister Jane Ellison said: “Stopping the spread of HIV remains a priority for the UK government. We are already seeing some exciting prospects develop from last year’s fund and I am looking forward to seeing more creativity and innovation this time round.

Professor Kevin Fenton, PHE’s national director of health and wellbeing added: “Our work with local partners is essential in fighting the rates of HIV in this country, which are still rising among certain groups.

“The fund represents an opportunity for local areas to further benefit from national support and I hope to see a range of applications, showcasing creative local solutions to a longstanding public health issue.”

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