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Care for people living with HIV is “poorer” following the reorganisation of the NHS and is likely to get worse, according to specialists.

bhivalogoEarlier this year, sexual healthcare was moved from the NHS to local councils, while HIV care remains with the health provider.

But a third of the 100 HIV specialists questioned by the British HIV Association believe that patient care is worse as a result.

Dr David Asboe, chair of BHIVA and a consultant in HIV medicine at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, said: “There are HIV services being threatened with closure without adequate care arrangements made for the people living with HIV attending these services.”

The government said the NHS and local authorities should work together.

Previously, HIV and genitourinary medicine (GUM) services were integrated within the healthcare system, sharing resources and staff.

The reorganisation of the NHS transferred responsibilities for sexual health to local authorities as a public health issue, similar to smoking or obesity.

However, the change did not include care for those people living with HIV, which remains with the NHS, despite testing still taking place in GUM clinics.

The President of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH), Dr Janet Wilson, says clinicians have been warning about the changes since their introduction.

She added: “We are already hearing about tendered GUM services being prevented from undertaking partner notification on people newly diagnosed as HIV-positive even though this is the most effective public health intervention for identifying undiagnosed HIV infection.”

Nearly two-thirds of the specialists questioned by BHIVA believed that care for those living with HIV would deteriorate in the future, with just one in 10 believing it would improve.

More than nine out of 10 said they had voiced their concerns to commissioners, clinical colleagues or the media, but one in five was unable to identify the individuals responsible for commissioning HIV prevention and training in their area.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “Public Health England’s report on HIV care last year reported an increase in people being diagnosed and prompt integration into care.

“However, the NHS and local authorities should work together to make sure that sexual health services are convenient and work for patients.”

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