In a video for message for World AIDS Day, the prime minister, David Cameron has called on the media and faith groups to help tackle the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS.
Mr Cameron spoke of the collaborations that the Government is making with the Terrence Higgins Trust and the African Health Network to target at those most at risk of HIV and AIDS. He also pointed out that 6,500 people in the UK were diagnosed with HIV in the past year.
Mr Cameron said: “We have made a lot of progress in fighting HIV and AIDS so far and I believe that by working together, we can help reduce the stigma, reduce the number of new infections and enable those living with HIV to lead full productive and happy lives.
He added: “tackling the stigma that comes with HIV and Aids is not just a job for government alone. It means those in the media sending out responsible messages, it means role models and well-known figures lending their support to the cause, it means community groups and faith groups doing their bit to spread the message about prevention and testing in the local area.”
Last week, Mr Cameron called on the gay community to tackle the rates of HIV infection and diagnosis. “One area where progress has not been good enough is infection rates. Over the last ten years, they have actually increased,” he wrote.
“You need to support each other in avoiding the virus. You still need to practice safe sex. You need to test and to know your HIV status,” he wrote. ” And as a society we need to continue to fight prejudice and stigma, especially as they can be a barrier to testing and treatment.
“I talk a lot about responsibility when it comes to my politics. And this World AIDS Day it’s important everyone thinks about the responsibility they have towards themselves, their partners and the wider community. Only together can we fight and then beat HIV and AIDS.”
In his own message, Labour leader Ed Miliband wrote: “Despite the huge strides that have been made in medical treatment for HIV over the last two decades, knowledge about how HIV is transmitted is now lower than it was ten years ago.
“And the sad reality is that HIV stigma and discrimination are still an issue for many people. One in three people with the virus say they have experienced discrimination because of their HIV status. People with HIV report facing discrimination at work, at school, and even in healthcare settings – this is unfair, and unacceptable.”