World AIDS Day is on 1 December and this year Mike Thornton MP is asking locals to show support for people living with HIV, improve their understanding of the condition, and show their commitment to tackling HIV in Eastleigh.
Despite the growing number of people living with HIV (around 100,000 in the UK), and improved treatment, public knowledge and awareness about HIV hasn't kept pace and is actually declining.
The Eastleigh MP believes only by educating people about the reality of what it is like to live with HIV will we reduce the stigma that unfortunately many people living with the virus still face. Stigma also leads people to fear getting tested, which can have an impact on their health and increase the risk of HIV transmission.
Mike Thornton MP said:
"I am proud to wear a red ribbon to mark this year's World AIDS Day. With around 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK, we must do more to improve HIV prevention and testing, especially given 1 in 5 people with HIV remain undiagnosed, and almost half of people are still being diagnosed late.
"For people living with HIV in the UK one of the biggest challenges is still stigma, which is often the result of ignorance about HIV and unnecessary fear. Stigma also stops some people from taking an HIV test.
"This World AIDS Day I am joining forces with the National AIDS Trust's campaign to encourage more people in Eastleigh to better understand HIV. People living with HIV live a normal life span if diagnosed and treated in time, so it’s really important that people get tested early on ."
Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of the National AIDS Trust added:
"I am really pleased to see Mike Thornton MP using World AIDS Day to take a lead on this issue. Tackling HIV stigma, by encouraging more people to learn more about HIV, is important to improve the lives of people living with HIV, and to encouraging more people to get tested.
"Many people don't know what it is like to live with HIV and that if people test early and are on effective treatment they can live a normal lifespan and are much less likely to pass on HIV to others."