Today Mike Gapes met with members of the HIV community at the House of Commons and signed a pledge to halve late diagnosed and undiagnosed HIV through national and local action.
At the ‘Defining Leadership to tackle HIV’ World AIDS Day event hosted by the Halve It Coalition and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on HIV & AIDS, Conservative Party Vice Chairman Mike Freer, Liberal Democrat Health team member Baroness Liz Barker and Shadow Public Health Minister Luciana Berger each spoke on key issues for voters in the HIV community, and outlined how the different parties would address them.
Political leaders agreed that successfully combating the public health challenge posed by HIV required a cross-party approach to keep it high on the political agenda, and that full implementation of NICE public health guidance on HIV testing was vitally important.
Signing his pledge, Mike Gapes said:
‘HIV remains a significant public health issue in the UK. I am proud to support the Halve It campaign, which is an excellent example of what local and national stakeholders can do when they come together to unite around an important issue and driving change. Together we can save lives and money too if we work together to Halve It.'
Dr David Asboe, Chair of the British HIV Association, a founder member of the Halve It campaign, described the event as ‘a wake-up call for politicians to take urgent steps and ensure that the policies they have developed to tackle HIV are fully implemented and lives saved across the country.’
Halve It is a national coalition that focuses on the expansion of HIV testing services, on the basis that early testing of HIV saves lives and also results in substantial savings to the public health budget. Since its inception in 2010, Halve It has galvanised national and local cross-party support for HIV testing, and is supported in its aims by the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.