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DUP's Sammy Wilson criticised for refusal to support World Aids Day by colleague Bradley

By Staff Reporter

Published 02/12/2016

Disappointed: Paula Bradley
Disappointed: Paula Bradley

DUP Assembly member Paula Bradley said last night she was disappointed at her party colleague Sammy Wilson's refusal to wear a red ribbon in support of World Aids Day.

Mr Wilson had been asked by a constituent if the outspoken East Antrim MP would wear a ribbon in support of people suffering from HIV.

But in an email, Mr Wilson said that in his view there are other areas of medicine and disease that "have not received the same attention as Aids and which affect far more people".

And he said these were "not always as a result of lifestyle choices" and "deserve higher priorities then they have been given at present".

Speaking on BBC Northern Ireland's The View last night, North Belfast MLA Paula Bradley said: "If I'm honest, I'd say I was slightly disappointed at that reaction.

"I know that what he has written in that letter has caused controversy and I can understand that."

But she added: "It wouldn't have been that difficult (for him) to wear that red ribbon in support.

"I don't believe that it would have been difficult for anyone to do. So many members of our party did do it."

Ms Bradley said she would be taking the matter up with Mr Wilson, and also made clear that the two are "very good friends".

He had played an important role in encouraging her to enter political life, she said. Ms Bradley, who chairs Stormont's All Party Group on Sexual Health, spoke movingly about her personal experience of coping with HIV issues: "As I said in the Chamber, I have personal contact with someone I love who contracted HIV.

"I think that for anybody who receives a diagnosis of any long-term condition it's devastating, but for HIV it's even more so, because of the stigma that is attached to contracting HIV.

"For the individual, it was extremely hard, extremely difficult to come to terms with that."

Earlier this week, her Stormont DUP colleague Trevor Clarke revealed that until recently he had not been aware that heterosexual people could contract HIV. Ms Bradley said she felt proud of Mr Clarke for admitting in public that there were things he hadn't known.

"But he's not alone. There are so many people out there who still have not come to that true understanding of the effects of HIV - and who it affects," she said.

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