Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for December 1st, 2007

Gloves off for HIV/AIDS

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 1st December, 2007

gloves_off_homepage.jpgToday is World AIDS Day and in this morning’s post, with impeccable timing, a mailing arrived from the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The THT has been fighting discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS and it says it is time to take the gloves off — literally in the case of some medical professionals who still, incredibly, believe that you can catch the virus just by touching an infected person. I thought Princess Diana had laid to rest that myth, when she shook the hand of an AIDS patient in front of TV cameras way back in 1987.

Other myths still abound (no, you can’t transmit HIV by kissing!), but it’s the institutionalised discrimination that’s the real problem. People who are HIV+ are not allowed to work in the Arabian Gulf, for example, and they are not even allowed to visit the United States (if they lie about their status on entry, they can be prosecuted for immigration fraud). At least there is a move in the US Congress now to get that situation changed (and a Facebook group to promote the campaign: End the US Entry Ban for People with HIV). Even President George W Bush has called for a doubling of financial aid to combatting HIV/AIDS, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon declared at a midnight church ceremony last night, when he called for universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, ‘AIDS is  a disease unlike any other. AIDS is a social issue, an economic issue, a human rights issue. It targets young adults just as they should be contributing to economic growth and intellectual development and bringing up their children.’



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