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Theresa May promises UK help to end HIV stigma on World Aids Day

Medical progress over the last 30 years means that people with the virus can live a long and healthy life.

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Medical progress over the last 30 years means that people with the virus can live a long and healthy life (PA)

Medical progress over the last 30 years means that people with the virus can live a long and healthy life (PA)

Medical progress over the last 30 years means that people with the virus can live a long and healthy life (PA)

Theresa May marked the 30th anniversary of World Aids Day by pledging the UK’s continued support for tackling the disease globally.

Speaking from the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, she said: “The UK is helping millions of people access antiretroviral therapy and supporting HIV prevention in some of the world’s poorest countries.

“By working together we can end the stigma of HIV and eliminate HIV completely.”

She added that December 1 was a day for remembering those who have lost their lives to Aids-related illnesses, as well as remembering to support those currently living with HIV.

“I’m proud that the UK has become one of the first countries in the world to honour the United Nation’s 90/90/90 target that is in relation to HIV diagnosis, treatment and viral suppression,” she said.

The 90/90/90 target aims for 90% of people living with HIV to know their status, 90% of those diagnosed with HIV to receive antiretroviral therapy and 90% of all people receiving the therapy to have viral suppression.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan marked the day by expressing his pride at the capital being the first world city to exceed UN targets for detecting, preventing and treating the disease.

His tweet added “Our work doesn’t stop there”, announcing that London had been chosen for the first international gathering of the Fast Track Cities, an initiative to eliminate new cases by 2030.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said in a tweeted video: “A future with no HIV infections is a real possibility.”

“The PrEP [Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis] drug trials have been a real breakthrough,” he said, referring to a new drug that can be taken by HIV-negative people before having sex to prevent them contracting the virus.

The statements of commitment come as sexual health charity the Terrance Higgins Trust (THT) called for an end to the stigma faced by people living with the virus.

A new survey of 1,350 people with HIV conducted by the charity, released to mark the 30th World Aids Day, found 50% of people said they had experienced discrimination because of their HIV status.

It also found fear of discrimination made 59% of those polled feel unable to talk openly at work about living with HIV and that many people with the virus said they had faced stigma across a number of settings.

THT said this is despite the medical progress over the last 30 years which means that people with the virus can live a long and healthy life.

And effective treatment means that the amount of virus in the body can be shrunk to undetectable levels – which stops the damage the virus can cause to the body and means the virus cannot be passed on to anyone else.

The charity said that misinformation around HIV still causes stigma, which impacts many people living with HIV.

It comes after Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle announced that he is HIV positive during an emotional speech in the House of Commons.

The Brighton Kemptown MP is only the second MP to disclose he is living with the virus. He told the Press Association there were “low level elements of stigma [surrounding HIV] in every day life”.

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Lloyd Russell-Moyle said there is still stigma surrounding HIV (Yui Mok/PA)

Lloyd Russell-Moyle said there is still stigma surrounding HIV (Yui Mok/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Lloyd Russell-Moyle said there is still stigma surrounding HIV (Yui Mok/PA)

The new survey found that many people with the virus said they had faced stigma across a number of settings.

THT said that this is despite the medical progress over the last 30 years which means that people with the virus can live a long and healthy life.

And effective treatment means that the amount of virus in the body can be shrunk to undetectable levels – which stops the damage the virus can cause to the body and means the virus cannot be passed on to anyone else.

The charity said that misinformation around HIV still causes stigma, which impacts many people living with HIV.

  • Over half of people living with HIV (54%) had experienced HIV discrimination in dating and relationships.
  • One third (34%) had faced discrimination while accessing health care services.
  • Three in 10 (30%) had experienced HIV discrimination at work.
  • More than a quarter (27%) had experienced discrimination from friends.
  • 18% had experienced HIV discrimination from family members.
  • Just over a fifth (21%) had experienced HIV discrimination in their local community.

The charity has launched its Zero HIV campaign to mark World Aids day, with the aim of ending new cases of HIV and eliminating stigma surrounding the illness.

“We will celebrate the progress we’ve made in their memory, and we will stand shoulder to shoulder and continue to work together with one another to hit zero HIV transmissions and zero HIV stigma for good.”

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