World Aids Day

This year is the 30th World Aids Day.

Although the number of new HIV infections in the UK has declined for the first time since the epidemic was detected over 30 years ago, there are still more than 36 million people around the world who are living with AIDS, according to the World Health Organization.

Sadly, Brighton and Hove continues to have the highest rate of HIV infection in the country outside London. Early testing and diagnosis are key to combating this, with Terrence Higgins Trust naming our city as an area in which expanded HIV testing should be implemented as we know if people are diagnosed and treated in time, they can now live a normal life span, and infectiousness can be reduced by 96%.

I am proud of the campaigners and local HIV organisations, many of whom will be gathered tonight for the city's annual vigil, who have done so much to remove the stigma around HIV testing, saving lives in the process. This must remain a priority for us all.

World Aids Day is about remembering those who have died, and supporting those for whom HIV and AIDS, along with the associated stigma, prejudice and financial hardship, remain a daily reality.

This annual vigil is a reminder that we must continue to make this issue a priority. I will do everything I can in Parliament to make sure that budgets for these vital services and supports are protected and will continue to work with, and listen to, those who provide the excellent prevention and early diagnosis work already happening in our city.

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