One-stop centres for families with Aids

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The Independent Online
FAMILY Aids treatment centres are being planned by the Government to support parents and children with HIV infection, Baroness Cumberledge, a health minister, announced yesterday.

Speaking at the launch of an education campaign for women's organisations, Lady Cumberledge said 'one-stop shops' were being established so that families could be treated and helped together. Later this summer HIV 'family guidance' will be published by the Department of Health for local and health authorities, to promote new services, particulary outside London, to help HIV parents who have HIV children.

'There are about 22,000 people (in the UK) with HIV infection, and we know that more are infected and may be unaware that they are infected,' Lady Cumberlege said, adding that people who were infected through heterosexual sex were more likely not to know that they had HIV.

The campaign, Women, Aids and the Future, is the culmination of four years experience of health education meetings and seminars for 14 established women's organisations, including the Women's Institute and the Girl Guides, which formed the Women's Partnership Project, supported by the Health Education Authority and the National Aids Trust.

Lady Cumberlege said that although the numbers of people infected through heterosexual intercourse are small, the trend was 'extremely worrying' and could not be ignored. For each individual infected many more family members are affected. HIV and Aids still caused panic with people being victimised and stigmatised.

Appropriate sex education was essential. 'Fifty-two per cent of 16- to 19-year-olds have had sexual intercourse - there is a generation gap,' she said. The Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles found that of women aged 45 to 49 only 4 per cent had sexual intercourse before they were 16, but in the sample of 16- to 24-year-olds more than two-thirds had sex before they reached the age of consent.

'We have to face the evidence and ensure that young people do get good quality sex education when it is appropriate,' she said.

Women, Aids and the Future, a resource pack by the Health Education Authority, Marston Book Services; pounds 4.99, plus postage; 0865 294745; fax 0865 791927.