Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland is determined to challenge stigma on HIV

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Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she is determined to tackle stigma and misconceptions surrounding HIV.

The leader spoke out after new statistics found an estimated 103,700 people across 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.

In a message recorded on World AIDS Day, the Scottish National Party leader said: “There has been real progress around HIV in the past 30 years – for example advances in medication mean that people with HIV now have a normal life span.

“However, many challenges do remain – and a key priority in Scotland is to make sure anyone who thinks they might be at risk of HIV asks for a test.

“That’s crucial to curbing the spread of the virus, and it enables people to get the treatment they need to live life to the full.

She added: “We also need to do more to address the myths, the misconceptions and the stigma, which is sometimes attached to HIV.

“That’s a major focus of this year’s World AIDS Day, and it’s one reason why the World AIDS Day website contains important facts about AIDS, and is a good way of getting the information you might need to challenge those misconceptions.
Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland is determined to challenge stigma on HIV
“In Scotland, all of the leaders of the major political parties will wear a red ribbons to mark World AIDS Day, and encourage all of you to join us.

“It’s a simple but powerful way of sending an important message: a message of remembrance for those who have died of AIDS, a message of solidarity to those who live with HIV, and of our sheer determination to correct myths, tackle misconceptions and challenge stigma.”