This week I joined UK, international and student activists at a STOPAIDS parliamentary event to mark the 25th World AIDS Day taking place on Sunday 1st December.
I spoke with activists including Diarmund (pictured) about how much progress has been made in tackling the AIDS epidemic, with 9.7 million people now accessing treatment, and AIDS-related deaths declining from a peak of 2.2 million in the mid-2000s to 1.6 million in 2012.
However, it is concerning how far we have to go, with 16 million people still not accessing anti-retroviral treatment and large number of deaths globally from AIDS-related illnesses.
I am proud to wear a red ribbon to mark this year’s World AIDS Day and I welcome the UK’s pledge of £1bn to the Global Fund. It is important that other world leaders to join the UK in committing to bring this disease under control and that the Government remains focused on overcoming the challenge AIDS continues to pose both domestically and internationally.
In the UK, despite the huge strides forward made since the 1980s in identifying, preventing and treating HIV and AIDS, public knowledge and awareness of the disease is currently declining. With around 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK, we must do more to improve HIV prevention and testing, especially given 1 in 5 people with HIV remain undiagnosed, and almost half of people are still being diagnosed late.
For people living with HIV in the UK one of the biggest challenges is still stigma, which is often the result of ignorance about HIV and unnecessary fear. Stigma also stops some people from taking an HIV test.
This World AIDS Day I am remembering the 35 million people who have lost their lives to AIDS and supporting the National AIDS Trust’s campaign to encourage more people in to better understand HIV by learning their five simple facts about living with HIV in the UK.
The five simple facts about HIV in the UK which have been put together by the National AIDS Trust to encourage people to think differently about HIV are:
1. People living with HIV live a normal lifespan if diagnosed and treated in time.
2. There is no job, which someone can’t do specifically because they have HIV
3. Treatment can mean that people living with HIV are no longer infectious.
4. Men and Women living with HIV can become parents of a HIV-free baby.
5. People living with HIV still face stigma and discrimination.
You can download a copy of the Five Facts and learn more about World AIDS Day and HIV by clicking here
STOPAIDS is the network of 80 UK agencies working since 1986 to secure an effective global response to HIV and AIDS.