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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Education will halt HIV rise

24th November 2006

Will Nutland, head of health promotion for the Terrence Higgins Trust argues new figures on HIV show the disease must be tackled on a global scale.

There are now more than 70,000 people living with HIV in the UK, with the majority of new cases of HIV identified in black and ethnic communities, most contracted abroad in high prevalence parts of the world where the disease is having a devastating effect on the population.

But Nutland asks, what can the UK do to make a real difference?
‘We can't put up barriers around HIV and we can't focus all our efforts at home,’ he writes on BBC Online. ‘HIV is a global issue, and a big increase in HIV infections in Africa or Asia affects us in the UK.’

This points to the need to force the issue of supporting and funding treatment and prevention programmes in those countries most affected, like Africa. Without a global approach the figures in the UK can only get worse.

In the UK, the focus should be on better and more appropriate sexual health education for those people who are coming here from areas of the world with high HIV prevalence, as well as accessible screening and treatment services.

But while gay men continue to be at high risk – there is a need to provide relevant sexual health information at schools. ‘Young gay men grow up with very little honest sex and relationship education that is relevant to them,’ he writes.

Funding for HIV prevention programmes has been hit, while many PCTs have failed to keep HIV on their agenda, which means cash meant for sexual health is being used to shore up cash-strapped services.

‘An open an honest society that accepts gay men is just as important as good education campaigns if we are to tackle more of the real issues that are driving HIV in the UK,’ he concludes.

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