The Conservative peer and former health secretary, Lord Fowler, says the UK faces an “historic battle” when it comes to dealing with the HIV epidemic at an international level.
Following last night’s historic House of Lords vote to allow the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill to proceed in the Upper House, later in the evening a short debate was held on the subject of the global fund for HIV/AIDS.
The debate was tabled by Conservative peer Lord Fowler, who had spoken up passionately in favour of marriage equality ahead of yesterday’s key vote.
During the debate, Lord Fowler pointed out the importance of the global fund on HIV/AIDS and said that in the last ten years the fund has become the “chief means of combating” the epidemic.
But he warned over the next three years it will need $15 billion (£9.7bn), a large increase on what is currently available, if it is to remain effective.
Ending his speech, Lord Fowler commented on the equal marriage vote and said: “We have sent out a clear message that we in this country believe in equality of treatment for all.”
He went further to say: “I put it to the Minister that it would be even better if tonight she could set out the British Government’s plans to help the global fund fight one of the most important health battles that the world now faces. That is a historic battle and this country could make an important and valuable contribution to it.”
Responding for the government, Baroness Northover stressed the UK’s commitment to fighting HIV, pointing out that Britain is currently the third largest contributor to the fund, and this will have reached £1bn by 2015. She went on to say that some reviews were ongoing but that the government intends to remain at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention.
Lord Fowler served as Health Secretary from 1981-1987 at the height of the AIDS epidemic.
He extensively documented the failures of successive governments in diverting enough resources and attention to HIV prevention in a 2011 report, describing efforts undertaken as “woefully inadequate”.
Commenting for LGBTory – the Conservative Party’s affiliated LGBT group, Chairman Matthew Sephton, said: “I am delighted to hear, as important as yesterday’s vote on equal marriage was, that parliamentarians are remembering there continues to be many issues of concern for LGBT people. Lord Fowler has always taken a great interest, particularly in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and I’m pleased to see him continuing to do so.”