People living with HIV in Brixton face having their support services cut. According to the Terrence Higgins Trust, Lambeth has the highest HIV prevalence of any borough in the country – 8 times the UK average, closely followed by Southwark and Lewisham.
A local service user and member of the Brixton community, Thomas Lange, 49, has started a change.org petition to try and save the services.
“Without the Terrence Higgins Trust’s services in Lambeth, I genuinely don’t think I’d be alive. I was lonely, suicidal and sleeping rough. They helped me access benefits so I could get out of homelessness, and my counsellor showed me a level of kindness and understanding that I’d not had since I was diagnosed with HIV aged eighteen.
“If these are cut, where will people go? General services cannot meet the needs of everyone with HIV, and they don’t understand what it is emotionally and physically to live with HIV.
“If we lose the HIV support services in Lambeth, the worst-hit area for HIV in the whole country, what kind of message does that send out? There is already far too much stigma and apathy towards HIV and this will make it worse.”
Dr Michael Brady, Medical Director of Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “A nutritious diet, a roof over your head, warm clothing and bedding are basic requirements for maintaining a good quality of life. For the many people living in poverty with HIV, these may be impossible to maintain if they don’t have access to advice and advocacy services to help them get out of unhealthy living situations.”
A final decision on the proposed HIV cuts in Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark is expected to be made in June – meaning there are just weeks left to save the services.
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