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Boris Johnson wants you to ‘fight’ HIV despite not including a single commitment to PrEP in Tory manifesto

Emma Powys Maurice December 1, 2019

Boris Johnson speaking on World AIDS Day (@NAT_AIDS_Trust)

Boris Johnson is urging people to ‘fight’ against the stigma of HIV/AIDS on World AIDS Day, while not including a single commitment to PrEP in the Tory manifesto.

PrEP stands for Pre-exposure Prophylaxis and is considered the most effective protection against HIV transmission. If taken correctly it is more than 99 percent effective at controlling the spread of the disease.

The medication is provided on the NHS in Scotland and on a trial basis in Wales, but is not easily accessible in England and Northern Ireland. Experts have warned of significant shortages of the drug if the UK goes through a hard Brexit.

None of these crucial points are addressed in the Conservatives’ manifesto, nor in Johnson’s World AIDS Day speech.

“We’ve taken terrific strides in treating HIV over the years, with more people than ever able to live full and active lives. But the reality is that HIV has not gone away,” he said.

“It continues to have a major impact on the lives of many, many people, and it can affect anyone. It’s so important to take every opportunity to raise awareness and do more to fight to stigma, to stop people feeling alone and isolated.”

To the people and families affected by AIDS, he added: “You are not alone, we will stand with you.”

However, the people and families affected by AIDS were quick to point out the shortcomings in Johnson’s approach to the disease.

“This rings a little hollow, given his government have drastically cut funding to sexual health services and failed to adequately fund PrEP,” said gay writer James Greig.

“EXCITING! We’re being given ‘AWARENESS’ instead of PrEP,” tweeted journalist Robin Holley. He has several friends who contracted HIV while waiting for PrEP.

“He didn’t actually make any statements about how he or his government will better the lives of HIV+ people or how to prevent HIV from spreading,” agreed one Twitter user.

“Nothing about PrEP, nothing about funding the medicine, and no actual plans on how to end the stigma. These feels like false words.”

“Is he telling the ‘tank topped bum boys‘ how he takes their plight seriously?” asked another.

Alongside the Brexit Party, the Conservatives are the only major party not to include any pledges about PrEP in their election manifesto.

In contrast, Labour have promised to “fully fund sexual health services and roll out PrEP medication” across the UK. The Liberal Democrats will ensure PrEP is “fully available to all who need it on the NHS,” while the Green Party will ensure PrEP is provided on the NHS “without delay”.

“What’s needed now are resources and action,” said Jeremy Corbyn in his World AIDS Day address. “Labour will ensure sexual health services that meet the needs of all communities are properly funded. And we will make PrEP widely available to prevent new HIV transmissions.”

He also touched on the staggering price of medications charged by the big pharmaceutical companies, which prevents people living in the poorest countries from accessing PrEP.

 

More: AIDS, Boris Johnson, conservatives, HIV, Jeremy Corbyn, Labour, PrEP, world aids day

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