Today we stand together as a global community to mark World AIDS Day.
AIDS is a global health challenge and there are currently more than 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK.
As a nation, we have made great strides in minimising the physical, psychological and societal impact of HIV. And thanks to the hard work of researchers, our understanding of HIV has grown significantly.
However, the shame, stigma, and isolation associated with HIV and AIDS has not gone away. No one should ever feel alone because of their HIV status, yet 1 in 5 people living with HIV in the UK say they feel this way.
We must be clear; there is no shame in an HIV diagnosis. There is no shame in getting tested. And there is no reason why HIV should stop you from living a full and happy life.
This year, the government committed to ending new HIV transmissions in England by 2030 yet support for people living with HIV has been eroded. Many people report feeling isolated and unable to find the help they need. And we are yet to secure universal access to HIV prevention medication such as PrEP. This not good enough.
This year’s theme, “Rock the Ribbon Together” is our collective opportunity to show our support for those living with HIV and AIDS and I’ll be wearing my ribbon with great pride.
I’d like to end by thanking the many researchers, activists, and doctors working to improve the lives of those living with HIV and AIDS. Let us all work together to end HIV transmissions for good.