The health service’s failure to address the mental health needs of people with HIV could result in an increase in infections, MPs have warned.
Figures show people with HIV are twice as likely to experience mental health difficulties.
However, most HIV clinics have no mental health professionals on staff, which could reverse the progress made over the past decade toward ending the epidemic in the UK, according to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on HIV and AIDS.
Its report warned that unless serious mental health treatment shortfalls are addressed, the government will fail to achieve its target of zero transmissions by 2030.
There have been significant developments in the clinical treatment of HIV in the UK since the 1980s and people living with the disease now have a life expectancy comparable to those who do not.
But local funding cuts mean some people living with HIV rely on generic mental health services which are inadequate for their needs, the report found.
Stephen Doughty, who chairs the APPG on HIV and Aids, told BBC News there needed to be a greater understanding of living with a stigmatised health condition.
“This should be reflected in a new national HIV strategy,” he said. “We heard some really disturbing evidence about patients who have committed suicide because of stigma and the traumatic process of navigating the benefits system while grappling with HIV and mental health issues.”
The report highlights the case of a woman who having received Employment and Support Allowance for many years, killed herself after being ruled “fit for work”.