Hundreds of people in Greater Manchester and beyond are now in need of support after a major HIV charity lost more than £1.5million over five years.
Body Positive North West, based in Whalley Range, Manchester, announced it was folding due to ‘financial pressures’.
Despite counselling services still remaining available via Talking Therapies, eleven staff members will lose their jobs and the hundreds of people suffering from HIV and AIDS in the area will be forced to seek help from other avenues.
Michael Snaith, ex-service user and founder of the Greater Manchester Coalition for HIV and AIDS, said even though many found the charity to be ‘badly managed’, this closure would leave a gaping hole in the North West’s HIV/AIDS support network.
“There was a lot of negativity from ex-service users but we are all very very sad that the service is closing,” he said.
“I really do feel sorry for the service users, and the staff. The liquidators came in and now they’re just concerned about selling their services.”
Since an estimated 80% of Body Positive’s service users were from the LGBT community, there is increasing pressure on health services to do more to promote the use of condoms and stop the spread of infection.
Figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) showed the North West had the largest number of people outside of London accessing HIV treatment. They also revealed that half of people undergoing treatment in the North West were homosexual men – and this group remained most at risk of acquiring HIV infection in the UK.
Mr Snaith said: “Safer sex among gay men in Manchester doesn’t seem to be recognised.
“I really do think the government should do more. There are so many people living with HIV and we are going to be bottom of every list. It’s still just not talked about enough.”
Users of Body Positive have been advised to approach the George House Trust as an alternative source of advice and support.