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.
At Malaria No More UK we stand shoulder to shoulder with everyone whose lives have been affected and all those working tirelessly to fight this deadly yet preventable epidemic... World Aids Day is a day to spur ourselves on for action and refusal to accept that this is how things will continue to be.
Looking ahead to another World AIDS Day this Sunday - the 26th such occasion since the annual solidarity day was introduced - it seems to me that there is an urgent need to prioritise and involve young people in efforts to tackle the global HIV epidemic, and in particular those from marginalised groups who are most at risk.