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Monday, July 5, 1999 Published at 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK


Call for tighter Aids monitoring

The Aids virus has not been 'apocalyptic' in the UK

Tighter checks should be kept on Aids and HIV patients to make sure they are not missing out on care and support, says a Labour MP.

Dr Gavin Strang wants health authorities to file accurate reports on the numbers of patient living in their areas so that they can properly plan how to help them.

Dr Strang realised that his own Private Members Bill on Aids monitoring, passed in 1987, was missing the mark when one London health authority found that although only six patients received treatment within its boundaries - the old way of measuring - as many as 187 lived there and needed assistance.

He said that Aids was still the "most important" communicable disease in the UK, and warned against complacency.

He now wants to bring his own Aids (Control) Act up to date with stricter monitoring requirements for health authorities.

This also includes a requirement for health authorities to specify exactly where Aids money is being spent, following fears that some were not spending enough on key sections of the community.

'Vital money should be well spent'

He said: "It is vital that the government money provided to prevent the spread of HIV is spent effectively. But there are fears that HIV/Aids funds are not being spent as well as they could be.

[ image: Many more drugs are available to tackle HIV and Aids]
Many more drugs are available to tackle HIV and Aids
"The apocalyptic Aids predictions of the mid-80s have not come true.

"And compared to other countries in Europe, the UK has done relatively well in dealing with the disease. But complacency about HIV would be a terrible mistake."

He added: "There is a danger that people think that HIV is not a threat any more, or that it doesn't matter if they get HIV as there are now drugs which can help."

Dr Strang is proposing his changes to his Act during an adjournment debate in the House of Commons late on Monday evening. He is hopeful that, should his amended Bill prove unsuccessful in the ballot to decide which few go forward, the Department of Health will bring in the changes.

More accurate monitoring

Other more accurate measures are being proposed.

Previously, a health authority with fewer than 10 cases would be able to leave the exact figure blank, following fears that individual Aids sufferers would be identified and harassed. Now, an exact figure will be given.

Last year there were 2,483 new diagnoses of HIV infection in the UK - 2,275 in England, 169 in Scotland, 29 in Wales and 10 in Northern Ireland.

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