Over the past twenty-five years, both the needs of people with diagnosed HIV and our\ud understanding of them have changed dramatically. During this time there have been many\ud assessments of need, usually within specific geographic boundaries (such as Primary Care Trusts) but no consistent approach to describing needs has been adopted. Most needs assessments have been shaped by a variety of local factors, including the profile of existing services.\ud This study provides an insight into the needs of people with diagnosed HIV living in the UK, based\ud on a final sample of 1777 people. The approach taken to measuring and describing need is the same\ud as our previous national survey (Weatherburn et al. 2002). This approach was shaped by our earlier\ud qualitative studies exploring the experience of people with diagnosed HIV in the early days\ud of anti-HIV treatments (Anderson et al. 2000, Anderson & Weatherburn 1999, Anderson &\ud Weatherburn 1998).\ud While this study uses the same methods as our 2001-2002 survey we do not draw direct\ud comparisons with our previous data or discuss change over time. The limitations of self-completion surveys using convenience samples make change comparisons hazardous. However, it is worth\ud noting that in any comparison with our prior data (Weatherburn et al. 2002) current levels of need\ud very rarely seem lower than we have previously reported.\ud The range and extent of medical and social care, support and information needs we present here\ud reveal significant challenges for service commissioners and providers. The first challenge is to avoid drawing quick conclusions about what the patterns of need mean for service commissioning and delivery. Needs have deliberately been separated from service use because the question of what services are ‘needed’ cannot be answered simply by identifying the extent of personal needs. The\ud overall pattern of need is a useful starting point, but this pattern is complex
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