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Halfway to World AIDS Day at House of Commons

8 July 2014

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In a show of support to mark Halfway to World AIDS Day, a record number of legislators took HIV tests in the House of Commons today as part of an event hosted by Halve It and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on HIV and AIDS.

Halve It is a coalition of HIV and healthcare experts – patients, clinicians, public sector, private sector, charities and politicians – who are determined to tackle the continued public health challenges posed by HIV and who call on all levels of government to make HIV a public health priority both locally and nationally.

The Halve It steering group includes our own Executive Director, Anne Aslett and Chairman, David Furnish.

David described today’s event as “an unprecedented show of support for scaling up HIV testing and solidarity with the 100,000 people living with HIV today in the UK. 

“Successive governments have demonstrated strong support for increasing HIV testing in a broad array of clinical and community settings, it is now crucial that this leadership actually changes practice on the ground.”

22 MPs, Peers and Councillors participated in today’s act of solidarity with those who live with HIV across the world every day of the year, and in demonstration of the UK’s policy commitment to HIV testing.

UK Public Health Minister Jane Ellison commented that “HIV testing has never been easier and the majority of people diagnosed can expect to lead healthy and productive lives with a near normal life expectancy. We want as many people as possible to get tested, particularly in groups at increased risk, as early as possible which is why we recently legalised HIV self-testing.

 “Halve It has done excellent work to raise awareness in this area and help reduce the stigma around HIV testing.”

HOW DAVID FURNISH IS HELPING TO HALVE IT

David’s support of Halve It began during last November’s HIV Testing Week, when he made headlines for getting tested at the Royal London Hospital as part of a campaign to promote routine HIV testing.

That campaign resulted in the biggest-ever hospital-based HIV testing programme, the first of its kind to offer testing in non-traditional settings outside of sexual health clinics.

WHAT WE CAN DO

Over 98,400 people in the UK live with HIV every day of the year: 22% of these are undiagnosed and 47% are diagnosed late.

Our work with Halve It aims to halve both the proportion of people diagnosed late with HIV and the proportion of people living with undiagnosed HIV by 2015.

In addition to legislator testing, today’s event focused on the recent launch of the Halve It toolkit for local action on HIV testing, which provides an invaluable framework for local expansion of HIV testing services.

We believe it’s essential that HIV testing become a routine part of public health.  To that end, we fund a huge range of HIV prevention projects  – from mobile testing units at football matches to sending SMS  text reminders to pregnant women.  They all make HIV testing easy, affordable, reliable and, above all, accessible to everyone without judgement or discrimination.

You can read more about our global testing efforts here.