We have come a long way since the 1980s.
While stigma and discrimination remain, HIV is now a long-term condition and individuals are living with HIV into old age. HIV affects individuals of all ages with 95% of people living with HIV of working age. HIV treatment in the UK is excellent, but not everyone living with HIV is doing well. The number of people diagnosed with HIV each year remains high and far too many people are diagnosed late. Services like +me help people living with HIV manage their condition but like other services we are facing continued funding cuts.
Service users and our health care professionals tell us HIV prevention and support services are essential. At an individual level they are essential for people at risk of, or living with HIV. At a societal level they are essential if we are to save money in HIV treatment costs for our much valued NHS. A significant number of people living with HIV are experiencing long-term health problems and disabilities that has created barriers to employment and participation over the years.
Many of the people we support across South Yorkshire living with HIV are living in poverty this seriously impacts on their ability to successfully manage treatment and health demands. Changes to benefits system don't accurately assess HIV-related barriers to work, participation and causes undue stress to individuals and their health.
We must ensure that the health and social care system is equipped to meet the needs of a population ageing with HIV and other health related issues. With an ageing population and the success of HIV treatment, people aged 50 and over now make up over a third of all those accessing HIV care in the UK, and will make up 50% of this population by 2028. Our health and social care system is not yet meeting the lifelong needs for this group, fears going into a care home in the number one concern for older service users. More needs to be done to ensure that people living with HIV are able to access good quality, non-discriminatory care with dignity. All parts of the health and social care system need the right resources, information and training to provide the best care outcomes, stamp out discrimination and to meet the needs of a generation ageing with HIV.
HIV support services across England are already being scrapped and local authority budgets being squeezed into oblivion, this year we ask you to support your local support group.