Brighton MP Caroline Lucas to unveil world’s largest AIDS awareness ribbon

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, will be marking World AIDS Day this Sunday at an event where the world’s largest AIDS awareness ribbon will be unveiled.

Ms Lucas will be giving the opening speech at the ‘You, Me and HIV’ event – organised by AVERT, the Brighton World AIDS Day Community Partnership, and several international organisations – at the Level in Brighton from 2pm.

Volunteers will lay out an AIDS awareness ribbon measuring 45 metres – the world’s largest.

“I’m extremely proud to be taking part in World AIDS Day,” Ms Lucas said. “WAD is about remembering those who have died, and supporting those for whom HIV and AIDS, along with the associated stigma, prejudice and financial hardship, remain a daily reality.

“Brighton and Hove has the highest prevalence of people with HIV outside of London and yet around one in five does not know he or she has the virus. If people are diagnosed and treated in time, they can now live a normal life span, and infectiousness can be reduced by 96%.”

The MP added: “The red ribbon is a reminder that we must continue to make this a priority. So on World AIDS Day 2013 I want to particularly pay tribute to all the excellent prevention and early diagnosis work already happening in our city, as well as the continued commitment to further improvements.”

Commenting on National HIV Testing Week, which is taking place until Friday, Brighton & Hove City Council Director of Public Health, Tom Scanlon, said: “Nationally the populations with the highest reported incidences of HIV are MSM (men who have sex with men) followed by the Black African community. There is a high prevalence of diagnosed HIV in Brighton & Hove, with rates similar to those seen in London, due to the large local gay community.

“In England, late diagnosis levels are approximately 50%  whereas in Brighton & Hove the figure is much lower at around 30%. This reflects the work carried out in the city to give people information about and access to HIV testing.”

He added: “As part of our ongoing drive to reduce late diagnosis, I have written to all GPs asking for HIV tests to be offered to all men and African women attending surgeries for a blood test of any kind during National HIV Testing Week.”

Figures released last week by Public Health England showed HIV infections among gay and bisexual men at a record high.

3,250 gay and bisexual men were diagnosed with HIV in 2012, the highest annual figure since the start of the epidemic.