Leading Scottish HIV charity faces fight for survival


HIV Scotland is locked in talks with the Scottish Government, having seen its initial bid for annual funding knocked back

8th June 2018 by Gareth Jones 1 Comment

A charity which has led the fight against HIV in Scotland faces a battle for its survival.

HIV Scotland was setup almost a quarter of a century ago and since then has delivered substantial changes in policy and practice across the country to help those affected by the condition.

However, the organisation was knocked by in an application for its annual funding by the Scottish Government recently, with half of its staff having left amid fears that it may not survive.

The government has said £70,000 has been given to HIV Scotland to help it continue until July, and talks aimed at securing its long-term future are ongoing.

George Valiotis, chief executive of HIV Scotland, said a change in policy that diverts national funding to local service provision means that the future of the charity is at risk.

He said: “In order to develop a sustainable future, the organisation needs to rebuild a healthy team that has been lost due to redundancies, in order to return to deliver great work whilst supporting an ambitious fundraising strategy.

“We provided the government a proposal that will do that, enabling us to deliver on a sustainable future for the organisation, whilst working together to reach zero new transmissions in Scotland. That was rejected and we’ve been asked to come back with a smaller scale plan that could fall short of the minimum operating costs a small organisation like ours needs to be viable. 

“In order to fundraise a sustainable, long-term future, whilst delivering on the high quality, award winning work we are recognised for, the organisation requires support from government that matches our previous arrangements.”

The issue of the charity’s future was raised at First Minister’s Questions by Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton, who highlighted that HIV is growing in Scotland – with 13% of those affected unaware that they have the condition.

“HIV Scotland have been in the vanguard of raising public awareness, research and aligning public policy for the best part of a quarter of a century,” he said.

“But we learn this week that most of their government funding which they have enjoyed for 25 years will be taken away. Does the first minister not regard HIV as a problem any more? If she does, will she instruct officials to revisit this decision immediately?”

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that HIV Scotland – which received around £270,000 last year - had applied for funding from a £1.9 million blood-borne virus funding pot but had been rejected by a panel which included independent members.

She said: “If we had interfered in that funding round that I spoke about, that would have involved taking money away from organisations that had been successful in that open process.”

The Scottish Government confirmed that discussions aimed at securing the charity’s long-term future are continuing.

A spokesperson said: “Following an open and competitive funding process a number of organisations were successful in securing funding to deliver key projects that support the delivery of the Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework.

“While HIV Scotland were unsuccessful in that process, we continue to work with them to develop a sustainable position for the coming years, and have provided an initial grant of £70,000 for the first four months of this year to support them achieve this and ensure that HIV Scotland can continue.”

HIV Scotland is nominated for next week’s Scottish Charity Awards, having been recognised in the Cracking Campaign category for its work on PrEP for Scotland. Following a campaign by the charity, Scotland became the first of the UK nations to approve the provision of pre exposure prophylaxis, where HIV-negative individuals use medication to protect themselves from getting the condition.

The National Aids Trust has shown solidarity with HIV Scotland on Twitter, describing the fact that the charity is at risk as shameful.

15th June 2018 by Geoff

The answer to this funding problem is:Get yourselves a top fund raiser who will raise major funds which are "unattached" and can be spent just how you want to.