HIV treatment update – Spring 2013

Gus Cairns
Published: 25 June 2013

The new edition of HIV treatment update (HTU) is on its way to subscribers and is also available online at www.aidsmap.com/htu.

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A pilot of Universal Credit (UC) has already started in areas of greater Manchester and Cheshire. UC is a new monthly welfare benefit which will unify six major benefits currently claimed – it excludes Personal Independence Payment (the new Disability Living Allowance) and Council Tax Benefit. The government initially planned to move everyone except people in Northern Ireland to Universal Credit by 2017, though they’ve gone a bit quiet on that one lately as rumours surface of rows between the Department of Work and Pensions and the Treasury.

The biggest single change UC entails is that Housing Benefit and Support for Mortgage Interest are eventually to be abolished; the new Credit will cover your rent or mortgage interest as well as your other income needs.

Housing Benefit won’t exactly be mourned. Separately run, as it is, by local authorities and paid direct to landlords, it is too often a cause of homelessness, via bureaucratic delay, rather than a cure for it.

But, as Philip Glanville shows (in Hurdles to housing), this is just one of a number of changes that may in the future severely restrict the availability and quality of housing for people in housing need. These changes may have a disproportionate impact on people with HIV for all sorts of reasons – perhaps because we are more likely to be disabled, or dependent on social housing for other reasons such as refugee status.

On another note entirely, we’re not Hepatitis treatment update: if we were, then this issue would be filled from cover to cover with all that’s been emerging from the recent International Liver Congress, and from CROI before that, on the astonishing pace of development in drugs to treat hepatitis C. It really does look as if there will be a tolerable oral combination therapy for hep C soon: who would have guessed this even three years ago? The sheer number of drugs and combinations on trial may be bewildering to the non-specialist, so read Ingo van Thiel’s piece (The beginning of the end of hepatitis C?) for a good succinct update on where we stood at the beginning of 2013. It will be interesting to go back to it in 12 months’ time.

Finally, from one area that is changing rapidly to one that has, sadly, scarcely changed at all: the social stigma against people with HIV and, in particular, the way people stigmatise themselves. As the work of social scientists like Nadine Ferris France and Seth Kalichman shows – see The diminished self – we have a long way to go before we find really effective ways of tackling the shame and isolation people with HIV, often so unnecessarily, impose on themselves. Maybe it won’t go away entirely until we find a cure for HIV – which we will be looking at in the next, and last, issue of HTU (see HIV treatment update: the future). Watch this space!

For more information

To send us feedback on this edition, or for any other information, please contact us at info@nam.org.uk or call 020 3242 0820. This edition is available in our archive, where you can read it online, view it as a flipbook and download it as a pdf. Visit www.aidsmap.com/htu.