§ Mr. Sheerman
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to ensure that AIDS patients have access to the most appropriate treatment regardless of where they live. 
§ Ms Jowell
The Government allocate substantial resources to the National Health Service for the treatment of people with HIV/AIDS. For 1997–98, the budget amounts to £199.3 million and includes an extra £14 million in response to the cost pressures following the introduction of combination antiretroviral drug therapies for people with HIV and AIDS. The budget is broadly allocated in line with where people are treated.
In 1998–99, a further £23 million has been provided in recognition of the continued cost pressures of these new therapies which are proving effective so far in delaying the progression of HIV and AIDS, £20 million of the additional funds have been distributed according to where people with HIV/AIDS live. From 1 April 1998, health authorities will therefore take responsibility for their residents who present for HIV/AIDS treatment for the first time. The remaining £3 million has been allocated to districts with the highest caseload in recognition of the extra pressures they face with regard to combination therapies.