While making PrEP available is ultimately a decision for NHS England, rather than for politicians, I hope they will take steps to make PrEP available to people considered to be at high risk of catching the virus, without further delay. This could have an enormous impact on the lives of countless numbers of people in high-risk groups and be a vast improvement on our current approach, which wastes NHS resources and has let down far too many people.
We are fortunate that for the most part, World AIDS Day is no longer about life or death but it is about realising our next challenge. A challenge that utilises education to both inform wider society people about the virus but also to empower people to make informed choices about sex so we can end future transmissions of HIV, forever.
The current ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood within 12 months of them last having sex is medically unjustified discrimination based on sexual orientation. It is premised on a generalisation about men who have sex with men.The government should cut the basic exclusion period to three months, dependent on the risk factors associated with each individual donor. These risk factors include not only HIV but also other sexually-transmitted infections (STIs). Protecting the blood supply is the number one priority but ensuring blood safety does not require a rule that no gay or bisexual man can donate blood for a year since his last same-sex experience.
The awareness-raising we and many others have been doing this week is truly crucial in the fight against HIV: because the stigma that surrounds the infection, and that at least one of our celebrity ambassadors has noticed on social media in this last week, drives a reluctance to test which actively promotes the continued spread of HIV.
New data from UNAIDS, the UN's main advocate for accelerated, comprehensive and coordinated global action on the HIV/AIDS epidemic, reveals that an estimated 3.6 million people aged 50 and older are living with HIV. For the first time since the start of the HIV epidemic, 10% of the adult population living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries is aged 50 or older.
Once back in England I met a great guy on a night out. On our second date he disclosed that he was HIV positive... This person educated me. I learned the science behind HIV and this knowledge freed me from the fear that I'd harboured before. More importantly for me though was the openness: when it was relevant, he shared his status, and with his consent, I did the same. What began as cathartic became educational. It was amazing how little people knew!
As we approach World AIDS Day it is vital to highlight that people who live with HIV and AIDS in the developing world need to receive more than just medicine. They need nutritious food as well. We know that 97 per cent of the 7,000 people newly infected with HIV everyday live in the world's most undernourished countries underlining the link between hunger and the disease.