MP refuses to support World AIDS Day because ‘HIV is the result of lifestyle choices’
A UK Member of Parliament has claimed that the government spends too much money fighting HIV/AIDS, claiming the disease is the result of “lifestyle choices”.
Sammy Wilson, the MP for East Antrim , made the shocking comments responding to a letter from a constituent, who had urged him to support World AIDS Day on December 1.
In response to the letter, Mr Wilson – a member of Northern Ireland’s strongly anti-LGBT Democratic Unionist Party – claimed that the government had given too much funding to tackling HIV “at the expense”.
He wrote: “Thank you very much for your letter regarding World Aids Day.
“I know that the Government has put considerable resources into dealing with the issue of aids [sic], sometimes at the expense of other illnesses which affect people, such as dementia and cancer and which are not always as a result of their own behaviour.
“Whilst I understand the importance of looking at ways of resources being made available to tackling all of the illnesses which affect people I also understand the Government does have a role to play in tackling the range of diseases which affect the citizens of this country.
“Personally, I believe that there are areas of medicine and diseases that have not received the same attention as aids and which afflict far more people that are not always as a result of lifestyle choices and which therefore deserve higher priorities than they have been given at present.
“Whilst I appreciate the concerns you have about people who are living with aids I am sure you will also appreciate that there are people who suffer from mental health problems, dementia and cancer which also have a huge impact on their lives and which are equally deserving of resources.
“Sammy Wilson MP (Dictated by Mr Wilson and sent on his behalf)”.
The shocking comments have been slammed by other MPs.
Tory MP Mike Freer, the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on HIV & AIDS, told PinkNews the comments were “hateful”.
Mr Freer told PinkNews: “It is shocking that Mr Wilson has allowed his bile fuelled bigotry to get in the way of facts.
“No one chooses to be HIV positive any more than people choose to have smoking related cancer, diet related heart disease or diet related diabetes.
“His comments show that we still have battles to win in overcoming prejudice and bigotry.”
Prime Minister Theresa May also slammed “unacceptable” stigma in her World AIDS Day message.
The Prime Minister said: “Half [of people living with HIV] reported feelings such as shame, guilt and low self-esteem in relation to their HIV status.
“This stigma is an unacceptable stain on our society and we have to wipe it out.
“Stigma is not just profoundly wrong. It also prevents many of those affected from accessing the testing, treatment and support that they need.”
SDLP MLA Claire Hanna told ITV: “It’s not surprising, but it’s disappointing.
“World AIDS Day is about raising awareness, it’s about tackling stigma and reassuring people with HIV that they will receive protection in law and care without judgement.
“HIV is certainly not a lifestyle choice but for Sammy Wilson, World AIDS Day is just another opportunity for a mean kick and a cheap headline.”
The DUP continues to use peace process powers to block same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.
The DUP ran on a platform of ‘defending marriage’ in Assembly elections earlier this year, and First Minister Arlene Foster earlier this month reaffirmed plans to continue employing powers to block any future marriage legislation.
She justified her position by claiming gay people don’t want to get married anyway.
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