Scottish National Party MSP Christina McKelvie has denied making light of HIV after tweeting “I’m YES Positive! And I’ve got the Scottish Virus” in relation to comments about nationalism by the leader of Scotland’s Labour Party.

The MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse made the remarks on Tuesday evening on Twitter in response to a speech by Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont.

Speaking earlier at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton, Ms Lamont denounced nationalism as a “virus that has affected so many nations and done so much harm”.

Labour, along with the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives all support Scotland remaining part of the UK in next year’s referendum.

Christina McKelvie’s party, the Scottish National Party, are in favour of Scotland securing full independence.

Responding to Ms Lamont’s speech, she tweeted: “I feel hopeful, optimistic, positive and inspired I must have the virus! #spreadthevirus #VoteYes”

However, Ms McKelvie’s language attracted criticism from some on Twitter who felt it risked offending people who actually live with a virus – namely the UK’s most stigmatised virus: HIV.

Ms McKelvie stressed it was not her intention to cause offence and suggested Johann Lamont should actually apologise for her comments on nationalism resembling a destructive virus. The MSP also said she had not actually produced the “I’m YES Positive!” image herself.

Meanwhile, the LGBT wing of the SNP, Out for Independence, have dismissed criticism of Ms McKelvie’s tweets and have pointed to her record in support of LGBT equality and HIV care provision in Scotland.