A senior London councillor, representing boroughs across the capital, has described rising HIV infection rates in London as “alarming”.
On Tuesday, members of London Councils’ Leaders committee agreed that a limited number of key HIV prevention services aimed at gay men and African communities, including condom distribution and some outreach work, will be delivered on a London-wide basis for the next three years as part of a £3.4m plan.
London boroughs account for 18 out of 20 local authorities with the highest diagnosed prevalence rate of HIV in the country. New diagnoses of HIV rose by 8% in London from 2,615 in 2011 to 2,832 in 2012, reversing a downward trend since 2003.
Yesterday, Cllr Teresa O’Neill, London Councils’ Executive member for health, said: “It is alarming to see such a sharp rise in HIV diagnoses, but London boroughs have been quick to act.
“We commissioned a needs assessment in order to find out more about what was happening, which groups were involved and what services worked best.
“Local authorities are well-placed to prevent the spread of HIV as they can commission services on a local level, tailored to the needs of their communities and links them into other services.
“However, we have recognised that there are some cases where it is more effective to work together on a London-wide basis.
“Our aim is to increase sexual health awareness and end the spread of this chronic illness that blights the lives of thousands, through cost-effective, targeted and well managed services.”
Valerie Delpech, head of HIV surveillance at PHE, said: “The good news is that increased HIV testing in recent years accounts for some of this rise, however the scale of the increase seen shows us that high rates of transmission are ongoing.”