Henry Smith MP: We can Halve It

Back in July, I took an HIV test in Parliament – part of a campaign to de-stigmatise the importance of the condition by legislators worldwide. The ease of testing now makes it possible to test almost anywhere.

Anyone over the age of thirty-five will likely remember the actor John Hurt-voiced ‘Don’t Die of Ignorance’ campaign, but thankfully with technological advances, it is now possible to get the results of an HIV test in less than five minutes from just a drop of blood.

Monday 1st December is World AIDS Day, an opportunity for people across the globe to redouble efforts against the immense burden untreated HIV/AIDS continues to have in some parts of the world, recognise how far we have come both in terms of treatment and understanding of HIV, and to remember those who died in the days of the AIDS epidemic.

Once someone is diagnosed as living with HIV, they will have access to treatment that means they are likely to live as long as someone who does not live with HIV and will be extremely unlikely to pass the infection onto partners.

I have campaigned for better early detection and treatment of chronic diseases – my commitment to tackling undiagnosed and late diagnosed HIV fits perfectly within this especially since Crawley has a high rate of HIV prevalence and an above average rate of late diagnosis. Late diagnosis of HIV means that someone living with undiagnosed HIV’s immune system has been severely compromised, and this can have an effect on the impact of treatment and long term prognosis for the condition.

The Halve It campaign is a policy coalition formed of 21 HIV organisations, including the Department of Health and Public Health England. It forms a group of national experts working with all levels of government and the NHS to reduce the proportion of people undiagnosed and diagnosed late with HIV, through public policy reform, and the implementation of good practice.
Its goals are to halve the proportion of people living with late or undiagnosed HIV – to improve their lives and public health risks for everyone.

Recent changes on how NHS services are commissioned have transferred the responsibility of delivering HIV services to local government. Having worked over the last five years to secure the production of national guidance on HIV testing, the Halve It coalition is keen to ensure that the recommendations within these guidelines are robustly implemented at a local level, with the strong support of local government.

The campaign is keen for our support on social media too, using the hashtags #HalveIt and #EarlyTestingSavesLives.

With national prioritisation, local implementation and a few drops of blood, together we can Halve It.