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Time to tackle HIV stigma and educate young people - NAT launches two campaigns for World AIDS Day

Friday, November 25, 2011

World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, raise awareness and show support for people living with HIV.  This World AIDS Day, NAT is campaigning on two important issues affecting the UK today.

Time to tackle HIV stigma – demand action from MPs

HIV stigma is still a daily reality for many people living with HIV.  One in three people living with HIV report having experienced discrimination and recent research from Ipsos MORI commissioned by NAT shows 69% of people agree there is still a great deal of HIV stigma in the UK today.  

NAT is calling for greater efforts by the Government to take the lead in addressing HIV stigma and increasing visibility of HIV in society – in the same way they have done for mental health.

NAT is asking the public to join this campaign by writing to their local MP asking them to sign up to NAT's Early Day Motion (EDM)* which calls on the Government to develop a strategic plan to reduce HIV-related stigma, as an integral part of our national response to HIV**.   

Protect the next generation – help get HIV education into the classroom

New HIV diagnoses among young people are on the increase and in the last decade they have risen by nearly 70% among 15-24 year olds.   As a generation grows up without memories of the widespread health promotion messages of the 1980s, reliable HIV information for young people has never been more important.  Education in schools has a crucial role to play in this but the current standard of HIV education is simply not up to scratch.  

NAT is urging the public and stakeholders to join us in calling for the Government to make Sex and Relationships education (SRE) compulsory within the national curriculum.  Putting SRE at the heart of the curriculum, rather than as just an optional add-on, would help ensure young people are equipped with the knowledge and confidence to protect themselves (and others) from HIV, while making them aware of the realities of living with HIV in the UK today***.

Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT (National AIDS Trust), comments:

‘World AIDS Day is a great opportunity to put the spotlight on some important issues affecting people living with HIV in the UK, as well as highlight the need for improved education and awareness.  HIV stigma is unfortunately a serious and ongoing issue for many HIV positive people and it is vital for the Government to take the lead on tackling this, in the same way they did for mental health.

‘It is also vital we educate the next generation so young people grow up aware of the facts and new infections can be prevented.  Again we need the Government to be proactive on this and recognise the importance of Sex and Relationships Education which takes into account the social dimension of HIV rather than just focussing on biology.

‘HIV as a domestic issue has long been swept under the carpet so we are asking everyone to do their part getting involved in our campaigns, showing their support and also demonstrating to the Government that more must be done to tackle HIV in the UK.’

- Ends -

Notes to the editor:

Find out the facts about HIV at www.HIVaware.org.uk and more information on NAT’s World AIDS Day campaigns can be found here.

* An EDM is a statement which MPs can sign to show their support for a particular issue or campaign

** You can check whether your MP has signed the EDM here.  If they haven’t, you can download our template letter and email them directly asking them to sign up.  You can also download a useful guide to emailing your MP here, which includes handy details such as how to find your MP's contact details etc and other information.

*** You can download our template letter and send it to the Schools minister, Nick Gibb MP - either by printing and posting it or emailing it directly to Gibb.PS@education.gsi.gov.uk

For further information please contact:
Charli Scouller
Communications Manager
NAT
020 7814 6733
press@nat.org.uk

NAT
NAT (National AIDS Trust) is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to transforming society’s response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expertise and practical resources. We champion the rights of people living with HIV and campaign for change.
Shaping attitudes. Challenging injustice. Changing lives.
www.nat.org.uk