Experts: Social care increasingly important for people with HIV

Social care is becoming increasingly important for people with HIV, but there are concerns about workforce standards and the future funding of services, government advisers said yesterday.

In a report, the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV said the greater life expectancy of people with HIV meant 15% were now aged over 50, a proportion that would continue to increase.

It said this meant services would have to contend with new challenges for the client group, such as pensions, the impact of HIV treatment on medication associated with ageing and the long-term care needs of HIV positive people.

‘Considerable workforce gaps’

But the group warned there were “considerable gaps in knowledge about HIV” among social care and NHS staff.

It highlighted the government’s failure to meet its pledge to introduce standards for delivering social care for people with HIV, which was included in its 2001 national strategy on sexual health and HIV.

‘DH must retain Aids Support Grant’

The report also raised concerns about the “recent closure of HIV-specific services in some local authorities” and said it was vital that the Department of Health retains the ring-fenced Aids Support Grant (ASG).

The grant, which is designed to fund social care services for people with HIV/Aids, was worth £21.8m in 2009-10, and the DH has promised to distribute a similar sum in 2010-11.

Cuts warning

However, the grant’s future beyond 2011 is uncertain, and a survey published by the National Aids Trust in August found a third of councils would cut services if the ring fence was removed.

In its report, the expert group said: “The ASG has been an important catalyst in the development of services in local authorities and, as clinical experience illustrates, its continuation, indeed the monitoring of its use, is an important part of the package of care that is needed now and in the future.”

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