Southwark Council in London is the latest local authority to join the ‘Halve It’ campaign to reduce by 50% the number of residents diagnosed late with HIV and those living with undiagnosed HIV.

The campaign – backed by all the three political parties on the Council – is being pushed in 64 local authorities across the country with higher rates of HIV.  Southwark has the second highest HIV prevalence rates nationally and is home to large numbers of residents from two high-risk groups: men having sex with men and the African community.

In 2013 there were 2,692 people living with undiagnosed HIV in Southwark.  The rate of diagnosed HIV in the borough is 12 per 1,000 people (compared with a UK rate of 2) and 38% of HIV diagnoses were late in Southwark compared with a national rate of 42%.

The motion to council assembly last week called on the borough to:

  • ensure rates of late diagnosed HIV are included in local plans for health, wellbeing and social care services (Joint Strategic Needs Assessment)
  • produce a report outlining what needs to be done locally in commissioning and providing services to achieve the halving of late HIV diagnosis and undiagnosed HIV
  • be a public supporter of the ‘Halve It’ campaign

Councillor David Noakes, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Health on Southwark Council, said:

Southwark has the second highest HIV prevalence figures in the UK, so it’s a big step forward that the Council is now backing the Halve It campaign formally.

“With HIV figures among men who have sex with men going up year-on-year since 2007, the importance of reducing late and undiagnosed HIV is crucial in the battle to reduce new infections and improve health outcomes for everyone.

“I would like to thank Simon Hughes MP for bringing the Halve It campaign to my attention and for my colleagues across the political divide for supporting this motion unanimously.”

Bermondsey & Old Southwark MP Simon Hughes said:

“With effective treatment people with HIV can now have a near normal life expectancy, but late diagnosis can result in illness and premature death that could have been prevented.

“That’s why we have made sure that Government funding for HIV prevention has been protected, with an estimated £630m spent on HIV treatment and care last year.

“It is really good news that Liberal Democrat councillors have secured the Council’s backing for the Halve It campaign which aims to halve the number of people diagnosed late with HIV and halve the number of people living with undiagnosed HIV.“

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