To mark World AIDS Day 2017, The Rainbow Project has called on the UK government to take the necessary proactive steps which can end new HIV infections within a generation. The leading LGBT charity has called for a radical rethink in how government tackles the infection which will require investment and challenging outdated orthodoxies in public health.
Speaking ahead of World Aids Day, Director of The Rainbow Project, John O’Doherty said: ‘The LGBT community, and particularly gay and bi men, have always borne the brunt of the HIV epidemic. The stigma surrounding HIV and its disproportionate impact on our community is rooted in homophobia and we cannot tackle one without tackling the other. This is why The Rainbow Project offers rapid HIV and Syphilis testing for LGBT people free of charge. For an appointment please contact us on 028 90 31 90 30.
‘Just as we have been the community most directly affected by the infection, so have we always been at the forefront of developing strategies to combat the infection and so we are now calling on government to adopt our strategy of STEPS to ZERO new infections within a generation.
‘The NHS must provide first class SUPPORT for individuals living with HIV and their partners which focuses on promoting their physical, mental and sexual health. The government must invest in increasing access to TESTING; making tests in affirming environments accessible to everyone, such as The Rainbow Project’s community-based testing service. Government must ensure that EDUCATION plays its role in giving people the information they need to make healthy decisions about their sexual health and so they understand that adherence to medication can make people living with HIV non-infectious. Government must invest in PREVENTION by bringing medications such as PrEP into the NHS so that it is available on prescription for all who need it. Government must invest in tackling the STIGMA associated with HIV, which is rooted in homophobia, so that people are not so fearful of a positive diagnosis that it prevents them from testing.
‘We can end HIV within a generation but it will require investment from government and a substantial change in how matters of sexual health are tackled in the UK but by working together and following the STEPS to ZERO, we know that it can be achieved.’
Notes to editors:
For further information please contact Gavin Boyd on 07883945157
Please see attached a STEPS to ZERO campaign image, please feel free to use. More information about the STEPS to ZERO campaign can be found at: https://www.rainbow-project.org/stepstozero