HL Deb 29 November 2004 vol 667 cc255-7

Baroness Gardner of Parkes asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are the latest figures for HIV/AIDS infection in Greater London; the ethnic origin of these cases; and the ratio of males and females infected.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner)

My Lords, 19,103 people who were diagnosed with HIV and were resident in London were seen for care in 2003. About 3,000 of those were new diagnoses. Of the total cases, 8,954 were reported as white and 7,133 as black African. The remainder were reported as black Carribbean, black unspecified, mixed race, Asian or oriental, or their ethnicity was not recorded. Nearly 69 per cent were males and about 31 per cent were females. There were 281 AIDS cases diagnosed and 203 deaths in London during 2003.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. It is clear that there is a high percentage of HIV cases in London compared to the national figure. Does he accept the view of the Terrence Higgins Trust that one-third of HIV cases are still undiagnosed? What more could be done to avoid the stigma that prevent people applying for testing, because they are so concerned about how that might affect their jobs, insurance or something of that type?

Lord Warner

My Lords, we do recognise that there is an issue regarding undiagnosed cases and we are in regular contact with the Terrence Higgins Trust. However, it is also true that the number of undiagnosed cases actually dropped between 2002 and 2003 from 31 per cent to 27 per cent.

Lord Laming

My Lords, as prevention is such an important matter, can the Minister assure the House that a robust education programme is in place?

Lord Warner

My Lords, as the annual report of Health Protection Agency, from which these figures are derived, makes clear, prevention is a key issue in tackling those particular problems. The Government's White Paper on public health made clear last week that we shall have a new sexual health campaign which will target younger people. That will help considerably with the issues around HIV/AIDS.

Baroness O'Cathain

My Lords, how does the Minister know the exact number of undiagnosed cases if they are undiagnosed?

Lord Warner

My Lords, these are estimates by the Health Protection Agency. I shall write to the noble Baroness, giving her further and better particulars.

Baroness Barker

My Lords, I hope that the Minister will share that information with all of us. He mentioned the sexual health strategy. The recent public health White Paper made no mention at all of HIV/AIDS. Will some of the £45 million committed to the sexual health strategy be ring-fenced for work on HIV/AIDS in general and for those communities that are most at risk?

Lord Warner

My Lords, the noble Baroness understates the Government's commitment to expenditure on sexually transmitted diseases. In the White Paper we have committed ourselves to spending £300 million more, some of which will be £50 million on a new campaign, which I mentioned in my response to the noble Lord, Lord Laming. We will be doing much to improve the services for chlamydia, expand genito-urinary medical services and improve conception services. I shall write to the noble Baroness with full details.

Lord Swinfen

My Lords, what emphasis do the Government place on long-term, faithful monogamous relationships in the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases?

Lord Warner

My Lords, we always prefer long-standing and monogamous relationships, where they are appropriate and are the wishes of the individuals concerned. If the noble Lord is moving on to the territory of abstinence, there is no evidence that "abstinence only" education is effective.

Lord Hayhoe

My Lords, can the Minister indicate the current cost of treating people with HIV/AIDS in this country?

Lord Warner

My Lords, the figures vary considerably and I would not wish to hazard a guess at this moment, but I shall look into the matter and give the noble Lord our best estimates.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

My Lords, is there any link between HIV/AIDS and the alarming increase in tuberculosis in London? Many people believe that it was such a lack of immunity that enabled TB to return.

Lord Warner

My Lords, we know that some of those who have HIV/AIDS come from parts of the world where TB is also endemic and we know that many people often have both infections. I do not know the science of the links between those diseases, but there is certainly some link regarding the individuals.

The Earl of Listowel

My Lords, what are the rates of transmission of HIV/AIDS in the Greater London area from mother to infant? Do those figures meet any target that the Department of Health may have set?

Lord Warner

My Lords, I do not have the London figures, but we know that ante-natal HIV screening is a success story nationally. In England in 2003 it was estimated that at least 92 per cent of HIV-infected women were diagnosed before delivery. The national target for 2002 for the proportion of HIV-infected women who were diagnosed before delivery was not only met, but exceeded, in both 2002 and 2003.

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, what percentage of the 3,000 new cases was due to lack of needle exchange regarding the injection of drugs compared with other causes?

Lord Warner

My Lords, I do not have that figure in my brief but I shall look into the matter and write to the noble Lord.

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