“These cuts will impact HIV transmission rates right at the moment our efforts are beginning to pay off.”
To mark World AIDS Day, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn released a video message of support alongside other UK leaders such as Theresa May, Nicola Sturgeon and Tim Farron.
Jeremy said: “World AIDS Day is a chance to reflect on how far we’ve come, but also how far we’ve still to go when it comes to our response to HIV in this country.
“While medical advances continue, social attitudes remain stuck in the past. HIV stigma is a daily reality and is experienced in situations where people should feel supported and valued: at work, in education, and when accessing services.
“Until we rid our society of HIV stigma, we will not succeed in our efforts to support people living with HIV to live well and prevent new HIV cases… let’s stamp our HIV stigma once and for all.”
However, the Labour leader has now criticised the UK government and it’s cuts to the sexual health sector, and its approach to combating HIV/AIDS.
Mr Corbyn said: “Since the last World AIDS Day there has been a reported fall in the number of people being diagnosed with HIV for the first time since the 1980s.
“Frequent testing and the HIV prevention drug PrEP are major contributing factors but in some parts of our country cuts of more than 20% have already led to GUM service closures, and £531 million more will be cut from the public health budgets in this Parliament.
“These cuts will impact HIV transmission rates right at the moment our efforts are beginning to pay off. So the Tories must end their health cuts and we must make sure infection rates fall in all of our communities and in every country around the world.
“Worldwide 37 million people live with HIV and nearly 2 million children.
“This year, the United Nations’ campaign for World AIDS Day, ‘My Health, My Right’, because everyone has the right to accessible and quality healthcare free from discrimination and investments in treatments we can end AIDS.
“We must also end the stigma and prejudice. This is why I will be proud to wear the red ribbon on Friday, a sign of solidarity and respect. I hope that you will join with me in supporting World AIDS Day.”
Yuzaf Azad, Director of Strategy at the National AIDS Trust, said: “HIV remains a stigmatised and misunderstood condition. It’s not the same as other health issues where people can rely of support and sympathy from friends and colleagues.
“HIV support services can be the only place where people are open about their status, the only places they can find advice and support, the only place they can talk to other people with HIV. They are an essential component of the long-term care of people with HIV. To remove them would leave a lot of vulnerable people stranded.”