PLANS to close a sexual health centre have been met with fears it could put "lives at risk".

The genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic at Whipps Cross Hospital which provides HIV/AIDS treatment could be moved to Stratford or Whitechapel.

Meanwhile, Waltham Forest Council is also looking into creating one sexual health clinic between Chingford, Walthamstow and Leytonstone.

But Pastor Jide Macauley, who founded the House of Rainbow Fellowship in Wellesley Road, Walthamstow, ten years ago, said people should not be forced to travel to avail of sexual health services.

The Christian organisation runs programmes for gay and bisexual men living with HIV and Mr Macauley said many do not want to go to their GP as they fear they may bump into someone they know.

He said: “This is not progress at all and it will affect people’s health if the clinic is closed.

“Yes they can go to their family GP but there is a risk they will bump into people who know their family.

“I think it is important that people do not have to travel to those services.

“The GUM clinic provides an exceptional service and that is very important especially for the black and Asian men who may be ostracised by their families.”

Many of the participants in the House of Rainbow’s programmes are black and Asian gay and bisexual men.

It is estimated that in London as many as one in 11 gay or bisexual men is living with HIV, with the risk being higher for black or Asian men.

The authority say the cost-cutting move will actually create 'greater choice', allowing people to order self-testing kits or order contraception from GPs or pharmacists.

It also says specialist sexual health services will be provided from bigger sites with better transport links and longer opening hours.

They will also be closer to the places where the need for sexual health services is highest.

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