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| December 12, 2018

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Kemptown MP makes history announcing he is HIV positive in parliament

Kemptown MP makes history announcing he is HIV positive in parliament
Louisa Streeting

Lloyd Russell-Moyle announced he is HIV positive in the House of Commons during a debate on public health in parliament yesterday. The Kemptown MP’s brave speech made him the first to reveal he is living with the illness inside parliamentary walls, and the second MP to publically discuss living with HIV.

Mr Russell-Moyle detailed how speaking out has helped him fight the stigma around HIV: “It has has been a long journey, from fear of acceptance, and hopefully today advocacy knowing that my treatment keeps me healthy, and protects any partner I may have.”

It is also a triumph for charities and community groups in Brighton and Hove fighting to prevent HIV and also the stigma around it. Citywide organisations such as The Sussex Beacon, Avert, and Lunch Positive are working hard to create supportive spaces for those diagnosed with HIV.

With a base in Brighton and Hove, International HIV/AIDS Alliance have been educating, mobilising, and inspiring people to fight HIV all over the world. They work on HIV, health and human rights through local, national and global action with communities in over 40 countries on four continents. 

Lloyd Russell-Moyle at Lewes at the Lewes FC Parliamentary Candidate Penalty Shoot Out in April 2015 © James Boyes

 

In a statement released to Brighton Journal, Christine Stegling, Executive Director of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance said: 

We applaud Lloyd for sharing his personal experience of living with HIV and for highlighting the detrimental effects of HIV stigma, either through the loss of livelihood or through violence and discrimination. As a politician, he holds a strong position in society and his decision to reveal his status has drawn positive attention from around the world and raised public awareness of HIV at a critical time.

“I hope Lloyd’s powerful words will be heard far beyond Britain and will inspire political leaders living with HIV, especially in countries with high HIV prevalence, to follow his lead to use personal experience to tackle stigma and discrimination”.

Public Health England published statistics yesterday highlighting the UK has now surpassed the UN’s target of 90-90-90. 92% of people living with HIV diagnosed; 98% of those on treatment; and 97% of those have an undetectable viral load, meaning they cannot pass on HIV to others.

Ian Green, Chief Executive of leading HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust, discussed this fantastic achievement ahead of World AIDS Day tomorrow (1 Dec): “We urgently want to see UK governments commit to ending new HIV transmissions by 2030 at the latest and set out clear steps to achieve that. This will only be achieved by everyone working together towards a shared vision.

The Kemptown MP highlighted in his speech how cuts to public health services could jeopardise the progress made so far in this country: “We’re not investing in the universal PrEP rollout – the pill that prevents HIV.”

Pressures on public health have risen over the last few years with slashes to the budget. In Brighton and Hove alone, the council took a hit of around £600,000 in funding for public health last year. Raising awareness and calling people to action is still significant despite surpassing targets, both in conjunction with World AIDS Day tomorrow and in support of charities, organisations, and community groups all year round.

Russell-Moyle made history by using the Commons as a platform to discuss health through personal experience. Through this awareness and the hard work of organisations, we are edging closer to achieving the eradication of HIV in the UK.

His speech can be viewed here:

 

For HIV support in Brighton and Hove, please contact the following organisations:

Featured image: Lloyd Russell Moyle © Chris McAndrew

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