Jo Swinson MP for East Dunbartonshire is asking local residents to show support for people living with HIV, improve their understanding of the condition, and show their commitment to tackling HIV on Worlds AIDS Day, this Sunday 1 December.
Despite the growing number of people living with HIV (around 100,000 in the UK), and improved treatment, public knowledge and awareness about HIV hasn’t kept pace and is actually declining. Only by educating people about the reality of what it is like to live with HIV can the stigma that many people living with the virus still face be reduced. Stigma also leads people to fear getting tested, which can have an impact on their health and increase the risk of HIV transmission.
Commenting, Jo said:
“I am proud to wear a red ribbon to mark this year’s World AIDS Day. With around 1400 people living with HIV in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, 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 encouraging more people in East Dunbartonshire to better understand HIV by learning the five simple facts about living with HIV in the UK. People can download a copy of the Five Facts and learn more about World AIDS Day and HIV by visitinghttp://worldaidsday.org/act-aware.php”
Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of the National AIDS Trust added:
“I am really pleased to see Jo using World AIDS Day to take a lead on this issue. Tackling HIV stigma, by encouraging more people to learn more about HIV, is important to improve the lives of people living with HIV, and to encouraging more people to get tested.
“Many people don’t know what it is like to live with HIV and that if people test early and are on effective treatment they can live a normal lifespan and are much less likely to pass on HIV to others.”
The Five Facts about HIV are:
- If diagnosed and treated in time. People living with HIV live a normal lifespan.
- There is no job, which someone can’t do specifically because they have HIV
- Treatment can mean that people living with HIV are no longer infectious.
- Men and Women living with HIV can become parents of a HIV-free baby.
- People living with HIV still face stigma and discrimination.
- This World AIDS Day, NAT (National AIDS Trust) is asking people across the UK, including Members of Parliament, to #RibbonUp and #FactUp for HIV.
- #RibbonUP is about encouraging people to wear a red ribbon with pride this World AIDS Day to raise awareness about HIV and support the 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK.
- #FactUp is asking people to learn five simple facts about HIV in the UK. They have been put together by the National AIDS Trust to encourage people to think differently about HIV.
These Twitter hashtags (#RibbonUp and #FactUp) are being used by people across the UK this World AIDS Day to encourage people to get involved in the campaign and raise awareness.