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HIV Charities Under the spotlight for not doing their jobs

In what seems to be a global trend, local HIV agencies, community organisations and other groups that benefit from government funding, bequests and that have the duty of educating the masses or more specifically the GLBTI community about HIV and its prevention, as well as other STI's - may be targeted for funding cuts should they be seen to not be spreading the messages appropriately - or enough.

Many Australian agencies have been coming under fire from smaller groups about withholding essential operational funds - or not providing the education and campaigns that it gets funding for from government.

An issue that has divided many sectors of the Australian community, with many different view points (all politically charged of course) may have to sort itself out pretty quickly if the UK is anything to go by.

HIV Scotland has been criticised in an external review for not being active enough, being too close to the government and "neglecting" the needs of some at-risk groups.

The charity works nationally across Scotland and has two health projects for men who have sex with men and African immigrants, the two groups most affected by HIV.

It receives £300,000 a year in government funding, although a government spokesman told the UK's Herald newspaper that this could be "reconsidered".

Scottish Tory public health spokesman Jackson Carlaw MSP added that there could be a "wholesale overhaul" of the organisation if problems were not resolved quickly.

The government-commissioned external review criticised HIV Scotland for a number of weaknesses, including poor communication with HIV-positive people and partner agencies.

It was found to have failed to address how the experiences and needs of people with HIV can impact on policies and some service users told the review they had experienced some professional practices which were "disrespectful or indicative of ignorance".

Some parts of the project for gay and bisexual men, Healthy Gay Scotland, were criticised for having "lost purpose or momentum" and the report said that other groups, such as heterosexuals and intravenous drug users, were being "neglected".

These agencies and groups are given funding for educational campaigns, outreach campaigns and more, do you think they reach into the community enough? Do they just care about the party scene? Do you think they are effective? Do you think that withdrawing funds would be damaging? What do you think? We would love to know in our comments section below.

Rob Manser

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