Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has said the UK government have 'dropped the ball' on HIV and AIDS
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said we must ‘take action’ on World AIDS Day to prevent people
Referring to figures released by the Health Protection Agency (HPA), he said the figures show a record number of gay people becoming diagnosed with HIV.
He also said 25,000 people in the UK who have the human immunodeficiency virus were not aware they had been infected.
Cameron said World AIDS Day should be used to ‘spread the message’ about education, testing, and early diagnosis.
‘World AIDS Day is a chance to do two things: take action and reflect,’ the Conservative leader said.
‘First and foremost, it’s got to be a spur to take action, as there are still far too many people who aren’t educated about HIV and AIDS who don’t get tested.
‘Over 100,000 people in the UK are living with HIV, but a quarter do not know they have it – that is 25,000 people who are not benefiting from treatment and are increasing the risk of passing the virus on.
‘This means up to 600 people a year could be dying from a preventable, treatable condition.
‘People need to know that, diagnosed early, the outlook for most people with HIV in the UK today is a good one, thanks to the availability of effective treatment and the excellent care provided by the NHS.
‘Above all, people need to know that it’s never been quicker or simpler to get tested.’
The HPA said one in 20 men who have sex with men in the UK have HIV, and the figure soars to nearly one in 12 in London.
The annual international campaign, symbolised by a red ribbon, is about increasing awareness of HIV and AIDS, and remembering the victims of the disease.
Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has attacked the UK government’s handling of HIV, saying there should be more education, and questioned why there were not safer sex TV and billboard adverts.
‘Almost two-thirds of gay and bisexual men who were newly diagnosed as HIV-infected had not attended a clinic for testing in the previous three years,’ he said.
‘Quite clearly, the UK government’s HIV strategy is flawed. It is failing gay and bisexual men. Ministers have dropped the ball. They’re complacent.’
He added: ‘Contrary to popular misconceptions, although HIV is increasingly a manageable condition like diabetes, some people with the virus are still dying and others are prone to more secondary illnesses, discomforting side effects and a shorter life expectancy.
‘We can’t carry on with the current rate of new gay and straight HIV infections. It’s straining the NHS during a period of austerity and, more importantly, turning too many people’s lives upside down.’
Check out David Cameron’s message on World AIDS Day here: