Mike Weatherley, the Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade, has taken a rapid HIV test in Parliament on World AIDS day to raise awareness of the need for early diagnosis of HIV in the UK.
According to a recent Health Protection Agency report, it is estimated that the number of people living with HIV in the UK reached 91,500 in 2010. A report published by the House of Lords Select Committee on HIV and AIDS in the UK recently found that the current level of priority given to the prevention of HIV is ‘woefully inadequate’ and prevention policies need to be prioritised to combat the growing epidemic. Had all of the UK acquired infections newly diagnosed in 2010 been prevented, there would have been a saving of approximately £1.2 billion in direct healthcare costs.
The Halve It campaign highlights that halving undiagnosed HIV by 2015 will mean fewer new HIV infections, fewer early deaths, reduced hospital admissions and AIDS-related illness, and more money saved by the NHS. It is estimated that the prevention of one new HIV infection would save the public purse between £280,000 and £360,000 in direct lifetime health costs.
Commenting, Mike said: “Recent figures show that up to a quarter of people living with HIV in the UK do not know that they have it. The stigma surrounding getting a test needs to be tackled so that we can seriously address the problem that we are facing. Taking a test is quick and easy and I would encourage anyone who has been thinking about it to go-ahead and get tested.”