Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said this week that the UK’s political leaders should regroup and rethink the issues around HIV, especially among gay and bisexual men. Clegg paid tribute to HIV campaigners but said that there were still too many people living with HIV who continued to face stigma and discrimination.

Mr Clegg said that “To see thirty years later that there are people with HIV who are living healthy and fulfilling lives is an extraordinary change – yet here is the big but: there is still stigma, there is still ignorance, there is still discrimination, it’s still difficult for people with HIV to settle happily into the work place, where there is prejudice and ignorance in the work place, and there is a genuine and very serious problem of far too many people with HIV who are not diagnosed as having HIV. “

Mr Clegg added: “By some estimates there are 22,000 people in our country who are still going undiagnosed and that is a very serious issue because it means, if you like, unwittingly they are continuing to communicate the disease and that’s why I think it’s very important that we work together to deal with that.”  This means that one in four people who have HIV do not know they have the virus, and are at a higher risk of infecting others,

Mr Clegg went on to say that raising “the profile” of HIV and countering “complacency” would all help to make sure people with the virus could “continue to live healthy, fulfilling and long lives in the future.”

He expressed his frustration at the failure of the Cabinet to agree on the need to “improve” and “modernise” sex education guidance, and said that the cross-party commitment was needed on HIV.  Better2Know thinks that this is a common sense approach, it is in the Country’s interest to see improved treatment and diagnosis to help promote health, length and quality of life.

“I certainly think that this is something which should not in any way be disfigured by party politics,…I mean sometimes it requires a nudge and a lead. I think it’s in keeping with what my party has always done. If you look back at the history … the leader of my party, David Steele, was I think the first political leader to celebrate [the creation of the Terrence Higgins Trust], but I think for the reasons we just talked about, the danger of complacency, the danger that some people who aren’t close to the issue feel the job is done [means] we do need to rediscover cross-party commitment in dealing with a lot of these outstanding issues.”

Better2Know believes that regular HIV and STI testing should be part of everyone’s health care regime.  HIV, infertility, and chronic pain can all be helped and/ or prevented by early diagnosis.  Not to mention the peace of mind that someone can have after any encounter they are concerned about.

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