David Cameron: We must educate people to help tackle HIV and AIDS
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has spoken out on World AIDS Day – helping to ‘bust myths’ about the condition after new stats showed HIV transmissions have reached a record high.
Statistics released by Public Health England last week found an estimated 103,700 people in the UK are now living with HIV, taking the number above 100,000 for the first time. 38,500 of those are men who have sex with men.
In addition, transmissions among gay and bisexual men have reached a new record high – with 3,360 men who have sex with men diagnosed as HIV positive in 2014. An estimated 6,500 HIV-positive gay and bisexual men are unaware they have HIV, risking further rises if they are not diagnosed and treated.
Speaking in a World AIDS Day message, the PM said that there were “still problems” to tackle on the subject.
He said: “Thirty years ago, being told you had HIV or AIDS was like being given a death sentence.
“Today, things are different. With incredible medical advances, those diagnosed early can expect to live as long as someone without the disease.
“That progress is remarkable, but there are still problems that we need to tackle.
“Last year, more than 6000 people in Britain were told they have the disease, and there are some – a fifth of all those living with it – who don’t even know they’re infected.”
The PM continued: “That’s why we recently launched our first national HIV home sampling service, and a £500,000 innovation fund.
“Alongside access to good-quality services, there’s another big solution: education.
“Educating people about how to protect themselves, educating them about the realities of HIV and AIDS. Busting the myths that lead to people being discriminated against.
“If we can make this progress in Britain, just think what we can do for people living with HIV and AIDS around the world.
“Last year, 1.2 million people died from the disease – but it really doesn’t have to be this way. The UN has a goal to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. That means no new infections, no discrimination, and no AIDS-relate deaths.
“This World AIDS Day, let’s get right behind that goal. Let’s be part of it. In our lifetime, we’ve seen HIV and AIDS go from a death sentence to a manageable condition. I want us to see a day where this epidemic ends, once and for all.”
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