LGBT Labour responded today to Prime Minister David Cameron’s article in a London gay ‘pop’ weekly magazine telling gay men to ‘take responsibility’ and get HIV tests.
The article, to mark next week’s World Aids Day, is published in the current issue of Boyz./p>
“Words of support for tackling HIV must be matched by action,” James Asser, co-chair of LGBT Labour, said this morning.
“Funding for the NHS will be significantly squeezed in real terms over the coming years. Many health services will be forced to slash specialist HIV support services.
“Government cuts to local authorities will see many HIV/AIDS support groups and voluntary organisations lose essential funding,” he pointed out. “The Government has already stated it will abolish the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health & HIV and it’s unclear what, if anything, will replace it.
It is set to slash funding for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, whose remit includes protecting HIV positive people from discrimination. It has failed to match Labour’s commitment to introduce statutory sex and relationship education for all and the recent white paper offers just a vague commitment to Personal, Social and Health Education.
“This is the reality of the Government’s action on HIV,” Mr. Asser suggested.
“LGBT Labour joins many HIV organisations in expressing concerns about hasty – and top-down –reforms of the NHS. The specific needs of people living with HIV could easily fall through the cracks of ill-thought through GP-led commissioning.”
In his message to readers of Boyz, the Prime Minister said that he well-remembered the Government “Don’t Die of Ignorance” campaign of the late 1980s. But he went on to say that while prejudice is falling one area where progress has not been good enough is HIV infection rates.
“Over the last 10 years, [infection rates] have been rising,” he writes, adding that gay men “to make sure you know what your HIV status is”.
“I talk a lot about responsibility when it comes to my politics. And This World AIDS Day it’s important everyone think about the responsibility they have towards themselves, their partners and the wider community,” he wrote.