Current Affairs

MPs asked to support gay men’s HIV campaign

Jessica Geen November 23, 2009
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The National AIDS Trust is asking members of parliament to sign an Early Day Motion to show their support for helping protect young gay men from HIV.

The motion, which MPs can sign to support, calls on them to ensure that young gay men receive appropriate information and education so that they can understand the risks of HIV and how they can protect their sexual health.

It also asks that a new national strategy for HIV includes specific actions to address the needs of young gay men.

Members of the public can also ask their MP to sign up.

The motion has been tabled as part of World AIDS Day, which is on December 1st. Early Day Motions are only rarely debated in the House of Commons and serve more to highlight issues.

Deborah Jack, chief executive of NAT, said: “Young gay men missed out on the widespread health promotion messages of the 1980s, and they are now the group of young people most at risk of getting HIV. New diagnoses amongst young gay men have doubled in the last ten years.

“We hope every MP will sign this important motion, and if an MP doesn’t sign we will want to know why they are not prioritising HIV prevention for young gay men.”

David Borrow MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on AIDS, is supporting the motion.

He said: “Good sex and relationships education in schools is critical to good health, and schools should know how to respond to the learning needs of young gay men. This is an area which some teachers may find difficult and they will need support and guidance. However, if we ignore the educational needs of young gay men we will see rates of HIV continue to rise and that would be indefensible.”

The campaign is also being supported by Channel 4’s Dr Christian Jessen and writer Paul Burston.

Jessen said: “I’m supporting NAT’s campaign – education about HIV is so important for protecting young people’s sexual health. I’ll be writing to my MP about it and hope other people do the same.”

Burston added: “It’s vital that young gay men are educated about HIV. Awareness about HIV is lower than ever but infections continue. We each have a responsibility to equip young men with the knowledge they need so they can avoid HIV infection, and MPs must make this a priority. I will be writing to my MP to get them to sign up.”

The text of the motion reads:
That this House notes the importance of World AIDS Day; recognises that the number of people living with HIV in the UK continues to increase, with over 80,000 people now living with HIV, and that young gay men remain the group of young people most at risk of acquiring HIV, with new diagnoses amongst this group doubling in the last ten years; acknowledges the need for sensitive and sensible messages on sexual health to young people in schools and calls on the government to ensure teachers have support and information to be able to talk confidently and sensitively about sexual health in order to meet the needs of young gay men; and to further ensure a new national strategy for HIV beyond 2011 includes specific actions to address the needs of young gay men.

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