LGBTory, the Conservative LGBT group, has welcomed the House of Lords report on HIV and AIDS, published this week to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the 1986 ‘Don’t die of ignorance’ campaign.
However, the group also warns that the way we approach the subject of HIV/AIDS campaigns in the UK has to change if we really are going to successfully stem the increase in the spread of the virus. This comes with the backdrop that 3,000 men were diagnosed with HIV last year, the highest number recorded.
The report points out that, since the late 1980s, there has been “no nationwide campaign on the same scale since, and, perhaps because of this, there is a widespread assumption that the danger has gone away. Nothing could be further from the truth.” Meanwhile Anne Milton MP, Conservative Minister for Public Health, is on record saying that “prevention remains as important as it did 25 years ago”.
Matthew Sephton, who chairs the LGBTory group commented:
“The gay community particularly has been failed by government policies for HIV prevention. The previous government’s target in its National Strategy for Sexual Health and HIV in 2001 was to reduce the number of newly acquired HIV infections by 25% by the end of 2007. This reduction didn’t happen. In fact the number of new infections in gay men nearly doubled over this period from 1568 in 2000 to 2950 by 2007.
“We want to work with the new Conservative-led government to ensure that these mistakes do not happen once again. We welcome especially the proposal of a nationwide-campaign, more work to tackle risky sexual behaviour and thirdly that all schools should provide Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) which covers detailed work on HIV/AIDS and its prevention.”
Matthew concluded that there are many reasons why there should be a strengthening of message on HIV, as “we simply cannot continue to fail to prevent the spread of HIV, as has been the case over the last ten years.”