David Furnish praises MPs for undertaking HIV tests
Filmmaker and campaigner David Furnish has praised politicians for taking part in an HIV testing session at Westminster.
Today, a number of MPs from all parties agreed to take HIV tests in a bid to raise awareness of December’s World AIDS Day and to set a World Record for the highest number of parliamentarians to take an HIV test in one session.
Halve It, a coalition of national experts determined to tackle the continued public health challenges posed by HIV, organised the event.
David Furnish, Chairman of Elton John AIDS Foundation described it as “an unprecedented show of support for scaling up HIV testing and solidarity with the 100,000 people living with HIV today in the UK”.
He added: “Successive governments have demonstrated strong support for increasing HIV testing in a broad array of clinical and community settings, it is now crucial that this leadership actually changes practice on the ground.”
Simon Kirby, Conservative MP for Brighton Kemptown, was among the first MPs to conduct a test.
He said: “I was very pleased to support today’s event to help demonstrate the UK’s policy commitment to making HIV testing routine.
“In my role as Vice Chair of the APPG for HIV/AIDS, and as the MP for Brighton Kemptown, I will continue to stand up for and help all of those living with HIV globally, every day of the year.”
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on HIV and AIDS will also meet this evening.
Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said “HIV testing has never been easier and the majority of people diagnosed can expect to lead healthy and productive lives with a near normal life expectancy.
“We want as many people as possible to get tested, particularly in groups at increased risk, as early as possible which is why we recently legalised HIV self-testing.
“Halve It has done excellent work to raise awareness in this area and help reduce the stigma around HIV testing.”
Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said that he wanted to see “a truly preventative NHS” – in order to fight rising HIV infection rates.
3,250 gay and bisexual men were diagnosed with HIV in 2012, the highest annual figure since the start of the epidemic.
Between 2011 and 2012 a small decline in the proportion of people living with HIV unaware was seen. The number of men who have sex with men (MSM) who remain undiagnosed fell to 18%.