On 1 December, Rushanara Ali, Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow, will mark World AIDS Day by showing her support for people living with the virus. Despite the growing number of people with HIV, public knowledge and awareness of the virus is declining.
“In the UK, there are nearly 100,000 people living with HIV. In Tower Hamlets, where my constituency is based, 35% of people are diagnosed late. On World AIDS Day, it is important that we remember these people and ensure that we are doing everything we can to help fight this disease. That is why HIV prevention and testing is crucial given that 1 in 5 people with HIV remain undiagnosed, and more than half of people are diagnosed late. I strongly urge more people to get tested as early prevention and effective treatment can save lives.
“It is crucial we improve awareness and understanding of this condition by educating people about the disease and reducing the stigma and discrimination that many of those living with HIV face. We must do more to prevent the spread of HIV and ensure that people who have been infected get access to the medical and social support they need.
“We must also remember that globally, 34 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2011. Sub-Saharan Africa remains most severely affected, with nearly 1 in every 20 adults living with HIV and accounting for 69% of the people living with HIV worldwide. I want to take this opportunity to commemorate those who have died of HIV, support those living with it and remind people and governments of the need to support the fight against HIV/AIDS.”
On 27 November, Rushanara met with coalition members of the Halve It campaign in Parliament to discuss the aims and achievements of their campaign which calls on the government and the NHS to halve the proportion of people undiagnosed and diagnosed late with HIV within 5 years, through public policy reform and implementation of good practice. She also signed the Halve It “supporter’s pledge”.