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Saturday, July 24, 1999 Published at 11:02 GMT 12:02 UK


Aids centre takes new approach

All change: Volunteers and patients at London Lighthouse

One of Britain's leading Aids care centres, the London Lighthouse, is overhauling its services after a 75% fall in the death rate from Aids.

The Lighthouse in Notting Hill, north London, was set up in 1986 and is Europe's largest residential and support centre for people affected by HIV and Aids.

Keith Breene: "Residential care has had to go"
Now residential care has had to go and the Lighthouse says its focus is now on helping people live with the illness, rather than prepare to die from it.

Die in dignity

Spokeswoman Grainne Morby said: "When Lighthouse started, people were being diagnosed with HIV quite late on in the progression of the illness.

[ image: Drug treatments have improved]
Drug treatments have improved
"Lighthouse was set up as a safe welcoming place for people to come and spend the last couple of years of their lives and to die in dignity.

"Now advances in combination drug therapies has meant the needs of people with HIV have changed dramatically."

In future, creches and other drop-in facilities for complementary therapies will be the focus of the centre.

Violently ill

Funding for the Lighthouse has fallen as death rates have dropped.

But the drugs that are keeping people alive do not work forever, raising fears of a future cash crisis.

Aids patient Ruthven Roberts said: "I know some people who have been on them for a while and have been violently ill and could not take the drug.

"Others have gone through the whole gamut and can't take it. There's no cure yet."

Ms Morby said: "We hope very much that there will be advances in the drug treatments on offer - that they will be less toxic and easier to take."

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