Secretary of State for Health launches revolutionary new services for people living with HIV

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The Rt Hon Andrew Lansley MP and HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust launch a new resource, Life Plus, today, which will transform the way people with HIV manage their condition long term. Created by the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) and people with HIV, Life Plus is an innovative set of online, face to face and telephone support services that deliver cost effective, personalised support for people living with HIV in the UK.

Andrew Lansley will meet service users at the Lambeth Wing, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, London later today to find out first hand the impact that Life Plus will have. St Thomas’ is situated in South London, which has the highest prevalence of HIV in the UK, and is a leading hospital for HIV care.

Currently around 86,500 people are living with HIV in the UK, and every year around 7,000 more people are diagnosed. This creates mounting pressure on an already constrained NHS. Life Plus, funded by the Elton John AIDS Foundation and developed in partnership with HIV organisations George House Trust and National Aids Manual (NAM), is designed to ease this pressure by offering vital free support to help people with HIV live long and healthy lives, whilst relieving clinical expertise to wholly focus where it is most needed.

Life Plus will partner NHS clinical care by providing face to face support in areas of the UK which have high rates of HIV prevalence; Brighton, Birmingham, Glasgow, Cardiff and Manchester. Clinic-based Health Trainers in each of these cities will provide people living with HIV with one-to-one support, to become experts in managing their condition and the social care challenges that may jeopardise their health and medical treatment.

As part of the programme, a dedicated new website, www.myhiv.org.uk, will also enable people living with HIV to access interactive services tailored to their individual needs, requirements and stage of diagnosis, wherever they live in the UK, including:

The option to privately and securely store information on their health and treatment so they can monitor and actively manage their HIV and stay adherent to treatment
A reminder function for clinic appointments
Forums for people to build communities and offer support to each other
Online counselling and advice
Information on how to become an active campaigner on HIV issues
For people who don’t have access to the internet at home, THT is working with HIV clinics, including the Harrison Wing at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, to offer free internet access to www.myhiv.org.uk and video conferencing facilities so that people can talk to experts from THT in clinics. People can also access confidential support from the charity’s helpline, THT Direct, on 0845 12 21 200.

Anne Aslett, Executive Director of EJAF said: “ When some 30% of HIV patients in the UK who attend their first clinic appointment don’t return, and challenging ARV therapy can result in unplanned treatment breaks, we were looking for a programme that could really help people begin treatment if they needed it and stay adherent for the long term. Life Plus does this in a very flexible and responsible way that also complements and supports healthcare providers.”

Sir Nick Partridge, Chief Executive for Terrence Higgins Trust said: “Life Plus is a very exciting new type of service provision and comes at a critical time to support the increasingly high numbers of people living with HIV in the UK. HIV is a complex condition so it’s vital that people get the best possible level of support, accessible in a multitude of ways, to ensure they remain healthy.

“HIV service providers and clinicians across the country have been fundamental in shaping Life Plus and these services have been designed to reach people in both rural and urban areas, whether they’re newly diagnosed or have been living with HIV for many years. Thanks to the Elton John AIDS Foundation these services will revolutionise support for people with HIV, helping them to manage their health and treatment more effectively.”

Sir Elton John, Founder of the Elton John AIDS Foundation said: “In many ways, the UK response to prevention and treatment of HIV has led the world. I am proud to be launching a new era in HIV services, delighted to be working with THT again, and hopeful that this approach may see opportunities for the management of other long term chronic conditions.”

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