At Prime Minister’s Questions today I will be joining many of my colleagues in taking a stand against HIV stigma by proudly wearing the Red Ribbon in the run up to World AIDS Day on the 1st of December. The Red Ribbon is an internationally recognised sign of solidarity with people living with HIV.
Despite the fact that there are over 100,000 people in the UK living with HIV, public awareness of the issue remains inadequate and many public misconceptions about HIV are still prevalent.
Many people in the UK living with HIV continue to experience high levels of stigma and discrimination. Sometimes, these types of discriminatory attitudes are even found in our own public services, the very places where those living with HIV would hope to find support.
The stigma attached to HIV serves to drive the epidemic. It discourages people from testing for HIV in the first place, and puts people off accessing treatment once the diagnosis has been made. It is for this reason that discrimination and stigma have a detrimental impact on the health and well-being of people living with HIV.
I fully support the work of the National AIDS Trust and their efforts to end the stigma associated with HIV and the discrimination experienced by many of those who live with the condition.