SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has joined the charity NAT (National AIDS Trust) to commemorate World AIDS Day today and call on the government to develop an explicit and strategic plan to reduce HIV-related stigma as an integral part of a UK-wide response to the epidemic.
Mr Durkan, a member of the All Party Group on AIDS at Westminster said: “It is important for us to mark World AIDS Day as HIV is something that affects many people in Derry and throughout the North.
“One in three people living with HIV in the UK still report discrimination related to their HIV status.
“The government has provided much needed and welcome support to tackle stigma relating to mental health, and therefore I would call on it to take similar action to address HIV-related stigma.
“The number of people living with HIV continues to increase. Young gay men remain the group most at risk of acquiring HIV, with new diagnoses amongst this group doubling in the last 10 years.
“However, while HIV infections are on the increase throughout society the subject is discussed less and less in local or national terms.
“Young gay men missed out on the public awareness campaigns of the ‘80s and they are now the group of young people most at risk of HIV.
“We must make sure the next generation of young people have the information they need to protect themselves and others.”
Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT said:
“It is great to see Mark Durkan show his support for World AIDS Day and for people living with HIV. Leadership from government is crucial to raising awareness and educating others so that we can change attitudes, end prejudice and stop the spread of HIV.” One in three people living with HIV in the UK still report discrimination related to their HIV status.