World AIDS Day: access to diagnosis and treatment must be equitable

We can only end HIV transmission by scaling up HIV services, removing structural barriers and tackling stigma and discrimination, say the Scottish Greens.

The comments will be made by the Scottish Greens health spokesperson, Gillian Mackay MSP, during a debate to mark World AIDS Day.

Speaking in the parliamentary chamber this afternoon, Gillian will say:

“Huge medical advancements have been made in the decades since HIV was first discovered, and it is now a very treatable disease. However, access to diagnosis and treatment is still not equitable, both globally and in Scotland. 

“According to the World Health Organisation, division, disparity and disregard for human rights are among the failures that allowed HIV to become and remain a global health crisis. We cannot make those same mistakes. 

“We can only end HIV transmission by scaling up HIV services and removing structural barriers and tackling stigma and discrimination worldwide.”

“If we are to improve care for people with HIV, and, crucially, work towards zero transmissions by 2030, we need to ensure everyone who has contracted HIV is tested and diagnosed. Initiatives such as HIV self-sampling tests will play an important part, but we must continue to seek other opportunities to widen access.

“The Terrence Higgins Trust is advocating for expanded opt-out HIV testing in healthcare settings, and the HIV Commission’s flagship recommendation is that: 'Opt-out rather than opt-in HIV testing must become routine across healthcare settings, starting with areas of high prevalence.”

“Along with improving access to testing, we must continue to tackle stigma, which still presents a very real barrier to diagnosis and treatment. For example, it can prevent people from getting tested due to fear of being ostracised.”

“World AIDS Day is an important reminder that HIV has not gone away. An estimated 38.4 million people live with HIV, and each year in the UK over 4,139 people are diagnosed with the disease.

"Access to diagnosis and treatment is not equitable and stigma is still a reality in many people’s lives. We must continue to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.”