Comment: David Cameron urges reflection, action and hope on World AIDS Day

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Today, World Aids Day, is about three things: reflection, action and hope.

First it’s about reflection, as we think about all those who have been lost to HIV, more than 25 million people since 1981, and all those who are living with it today.

Here in the UK, it’s around 90,000 people.

Across the world, it’s estimated at more than 34 million people, each one of them experiencing their own fears and uncertainty about the future.

Wearing the red ribbon is about showing solidarity and reflecting on the scale of the challenge we face.

But more than reflection, today has got to be about action: Individuals, charities, campaigners and governments working together to address HIV and AIDS.

This government is fully signed up to these efforts, at home and abroad.

Because we’re meeting our international aid promises, we’re able to make a big difference overseas.

In sub-Saharan Africa, we’re helping to prevent half a million HIV infections amongst women.

By supporting the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and malaria, we’re enabling 37,000 HIV-positive women to prevent transmission to their babies and giving 268,000 people access to life-saving treatment.

Here at home we’re ensuring that the NHS continues to provide people with excellent prevention, treatment, care and support and we’re funding and working with specialist charities like the Terence Higgins Trust, the African Health Policy Network and the National AIDS Trust to make sure we reach those groups that are the most vulnerable to infection.

We are well aware how urgent the task is.

Last year there were over 6,000 new HIV infections diagnosed in the UK.

That’s why it’s vital we keep educating people and keep tackling the stigma that stops so many people from getting diagnosed and treated.

So today is about reflection, and action, and for me it’s also about hope.

Because while there is so much more to be done, I think it’s important to remember the great progress that has been made on raising awareness, on tackling prejudice and on scientific advances.

Thirty years ago an HIV diagnosis was a death sentence.

But today, in countries like the UK and for millions around the world, that’s just not the case.

The majority of those who are diagnosed can live full and productive lives.

So on World AIDS Day I believe we can look with pride at the progress that’s been made in the past decades and look with hope at what we can achieve in the years to come.

Working together we will continue to prevent and treat HIV so that many more people can live long, fulfilling and happy lives.

The Prime Minister’s 2011 World AIDS Day message was recorded for the World AIDS Day website and coordinated by National AIDS Trust.