Sammy Wilson MP's comment on HIV - National AIDS Trust response
Deborah Gold, Chief Executive, NAT (National AIDS Trust), said:
NAT are shocked and saddened that a straightforward letter to an MP asking them to take a stand against HIV stigma should receive such a misinformed response from Sammy Wilson MP. HIV is currently not receiving more attention than other conditions – indeed research shows a massive decline in spending on HIV prevention over the past 15 years and current decommissioning of vital support services. The stigmatising claim that HIV services are at the expense of other patient groups makes no sense at all – on that basis all healthcare for any condition is at the expense of someone else – why pick on HIV? We know why of course, it’s prejudice.
This response from a Member of Parliament underlines the work we still have to do across the UK to get rid of HIV stigma and promote a decent, evidence-based and rational response to the HIV epidemic. Northern Ireland above all needs such a non-stigmatising, effective approach to HIV since it has seen an 86% increase in new HIV diagnoses in the last decade, the steepest rise across the four UK countries. Thankfully Mr Wilson’s attitude is not typical of the majority of politicians in Northern Ireland.
We should add that the particular letter Mr Wilson received was not asking for spending – it was asking for some common humanity, which Mr Wilson felt unable to provide.