Gay Labour group questions Cameron’s HIV support

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

LGBT Labour has questioned David Cameron’s message of responsibility for World AIDS Day.

The prime minister, writing in Boyz magazine this week, said people must have responsibility for themselves and their partners and urged gay men to use condoms and take up HIV testing.

“You need to support each other in avoiding the virus. You still need to practice safe sex. You need to test and to know your HIV status,” he said.

He added: “I talk a lot about responsibility when it comes to my politics. And this World AIDS Day it’s important everyone thinks about the responsibility they have towards themselves, their partners and the wider community. Only together can we fight and then beat HIV and AIDS.”

The Labour gay group countered that government cuts would “significantly squeeze” HIV funding and that “words of support for tackling HIV must be matched by action”.

James Asser, the co-chair of LGBT Labour, said: “Many health services will be forced to slash specialist HIV support services. Government cuts to local authorities will see many HIV/AIDS support groups and voluntary organisations lose essential funding.

“The government has already stated it will abolish the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health & HIV and it’s unclear what, if anything, will replace it.”

Both the Expert Advisory Group on HIV/AIDS and the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV were scrapped in a shake-up of public bodies in October.

The former will be reformed as a Department of Health expert committee, while the latter will be replaced with a “stakeholder advisory group”.

Mr Asser added that the government would “slash funding” for the Equality and Human Rights Commission and had only given a “vague commitment” to Personal, Social and Health Education in this week’s education white paper.

“LGBT Labour joins many HIV organisations in expressing concerns about hasty and top-down reforms of the NHS. The specific needs of people living with HIV could easily fall through the cracks of ill-thought through GP-led commissioning,” he said.

This week, the National AIDS Trust called for the government to fulfil the UK’s UN commitment and ensure that a national HIV strategy is in place from 2011.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said that sexual health was a priority and that it would be publishing a White Paper on health in December which would set out HIV strategy.