MPs and peers get tested at Westminster HIV event

Gary Hart July 1, 2015

Record number of MPs and peers attend ‘Halfway to World AIDS day’ events at Westminster today.

Halve It CampaignA record number of legislators attended a ‘Halfway to World AIDS day’ event in the House of Commons today hosted by the Halve It campaign and Stuart Andrew MP, Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on HIV & AIDS.

30 MPs and peers attended the event, 18 of whom took a HIV test administered by clinicians from the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, in an act of solidarity with all those living with HIV across the world every day of the year, and in demonstration of the UK’s policy commitment to HIV testing.

This was the second HIV testing marathon run by the Halve It campaign, building on the success of last year’s event. During the event, members of the Halve It Steering Group, including leading HIV clinicians and CEOs of patient and policy organisations, spoke with parliamentarians about HIV testing and related sexual health issues.

This year’s event included exhibitors who are organising Halve It local groups designed to drive implementation of HIV testing guidance in specific regions by addressing issues relating to late diagnosed and undiagnosed HIV in their area.

Professor Simon Barton, Consultant in Genitourinary medicine from Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, said that the event was “a critical opportunity for parliamentarians to commit to combatting HIV in the lifetime of this parliament. It is imperative that MPs across the country show their support for local implementation of HIV testing policy.”

In the UK an estimated 107,800 people live with HIV every day of the year; 24% of these are undiagnosed and 42% are diagnosed late.

The sooner HIV is diagnosed the sooner appropriate care can begin, and thanks to medical advancements the life expectancy of someone living with HIV has increased markedly in recent years. By ensuring that HIV testing becomes routine there will be significant long-term savings; with one early HIV diagnosis saving the NHS £63,061.

Halve It is a national campaign that focuses on the expansion of HIV testing services, on the basis that early testing of HIV saves lives and also results in substantial savings to the public health budget.

Since its inception in 2010, Halve It has galvanised national and local cross-party support for HIV testing, and is supported in its aims by the Prime Minister, the Shadow Secretary of State for Health, and the leader of the Liberal Democrats.