Tory MP Mike Freer to chair cross-party HIV group

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Conservative MP Mike Freer has been elected to chair the All-Party Parliamentary Group on HIV and AIDS.

The APPG, which is a backbench cross-party group of MPs and Peers, was set up in the 1980s to help address the growing AIDS crisis.

It continues to this day to collaborate across Parliament on efforts to tackle HIV, raising issues in Parliament and producing reports on required measures.

Mike Freer, the MP for Finchley and Golders Green and former Conservative Party Vice Chair, was last week elected to chair the group.

He succeeds former Labour MP Pamela Nash, who was unseated by the Scottish National Party last month.

Mr Freer raised the issue of HIV prevention in Parliament in March, amid fears of budget cuts hitting funds to tackle HIV.

Lib Dem peer Baroness Barker and Labour MP Stephen Doughty both joined the group as Vice Chairs, replacing unseated MPs Stephen Gilbert and Russell Brown.

Crossbench peer Baroness Masham of Ilton, Conservative peer Lord Fowler, and Tory MP Stuart Andrew all continued on as Vice Chairs.

The group says: “MPs and Peers who have joined the Group have done so because we are concerned about both the devastation that HIV and AIDS are causing in developing countries and about their impact here in the UK including in our constituencies.

“There are at least 33 million people in the world living with HIV, the majority of whom still cannot get access to life-saving treatment.

“Here in the UK we will soon have 100,000 people living with HIV, thousands of whom are still undiagnosed. Until they know about their infection, they too cannot benefit from treatment.

“HIV is not yesterday’s story. It is with us today in Britain and affecting families all over the world. We believe that as parliamentarians we should play our part in addressing this epidemic.

“In particular we have an important role in ensuring that laws and policies are respectful of human rights and promote public health.”