As Prime Minister, I am proud to wear a red ribbon on World Aids Day, to show my support for people living with HIV in the UK and all across the world.
I am proud too of the role that the UK has played in driving advances in the treatment and prevention of HIV, including of course through the brilliant care and support of our NHS which makes such a difference in the lives of people living with HIV.
But for all the progress in treatment and prevention, public attitudes have not progressed as far or as fast.
The latest UK HIV Stigma Index found that almost 1 in 5 respondents living with HIV in the UK have had suicidal thoughts in the past 12 months. While around half reported feelings such as shame, guilt and low self-esteem in relation to their HIV status.
This stigma is an unacceptable stain on our society and we have to wipe it out.
Stigma is not just profoundly wrong. It also prevents many of those affected from accessing the testing, treatment and support that they need.
Today around 2 in 5 people are diagnosed late – after the point at which treatment should have begun, with a significant impact on their long-term prognosis.
Tackling stigma is one of the ways that we can change this.
So I am proud to support this year’s campaign. HIV stigma is not retro, just wrong.
I urge you to join me in taking a stand and leaving this stigma where it belongs: in the past.