MP Caroline Lucas takes HIV test and says ‘we need to remove the stigma around testing’

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Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, has taken an HIV test in support of the Halve It campaign, which is aiming to halve rates of late and undiagnosed HIV in the UK by 2015.

Ms Lucas, who is giving the opening speech at the World AIDS Day event on Brighton Level this Sunday, said: “Sadly, Brighton and Hove continues to have the highest rate of HIV infection in the country outside London. Early testing and diagnosis are key to combating this epidemic, which is why I chose to be tested today. We need to remove the stigma around HIV testing.

“Across the country, HIV must remain a priority, and we have to continue to work to improve testing and diagnosis.”

Yesterday, Simon Kirby, the Conservative MP for Brighton Kemptown, urged David Cameron to support efforts to increase HIV testing at PMQs.

Mr Kirby, Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, also revealed that he’d undertaken an HIV test in Brighton as part of National HIV Testing Week.

Ms Lucas and Mr Kirby were present at last night’s Terrence Higgins Trust parliamentary reception hosted by the Conservative peer and former health secretary Lord Fowler.

The city of Brighton and Hove was mentioned as an example where late diagnosis levels of HIV had been cut greater than in other parts of the country.

In England, the late diagnosis level is 50% whereas in Brighton & Hove it is much lower at around 30%

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.