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BBC Website article - HIV drugs 'add 13 years of life'

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Ben Cromarty
Member
Posts: 451
BBC Website article - HIV drugs 'add 13 years of life'
Posted on: July 27 2008, 11:34 am

I mentioned this article during the UK-CAB 26 meeting last Friday. Simon had expressed concern that HIV funding and support from the Government is decreasing; it seems to me that the view of the DoH (or whatever they are called these days) is now set in stone, and is that HIV is now "just" a chronic condition like any other...

This article expresses the view that "HIV was now effectively a chronic condition like diabetes, rather than a fatal disease, the Lancet reported." The article is: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7523212.stm. I have not read or see the Lancet article.

In a very real way, of course, this is good news, and clinically I don't disagree with the findings. However, it largely overlooks the impact the HIV has emotionally, and ignores the high level of ignorance and stigma that still is associated with HIV, though to be fair the last line is a quote from Deborah Jack (NAT) which does mention this: "HIV is not deserved of the fear or stigma that still surrounds it.

Few people, if any, would have concerns about disclosing their diabetes status publicly; many, however, have real concerns about disclosing their HIV status. Until this situation is changed, we cannot realistically view HIV in a similar way to diabetes. The fact that legislation exists which means that people with HIV should not be discriminated against is not enough - the legislation is of course important and necessary, but does not actually remove the ignorance and stigma.

The level of ignorance and stigma about HIV in institutions such as the NHS (apart from the HIV specialists), Social Services, Education, police, judiciary - not to mention the press and general public - is high. Matt posted an article about school children with HIV being discriminated against (because of unfounded fears of transmission); every time an NHS worker is found to have HIV, there are "panic" headlines in the press and thousands of people are scared and sent for testing (...I'm not saying they shouldn't be tested - it's the hysteria and fear generated that concerns me more...); and there are countless (anecdotal) examples of ignorance in our institutions.

On the one hand, the government wants HIV to be "normalised" and managed as if it were diabetes; on the other, there is the whole issue of criminalisation, where HIV transmission is viewed as if we were still in the 1980s - "death sentence"; "drugs with awful side-effects" and so forth.

UK-CAB is focussed on treatment and treatment-related issues, so we are perhaps not best suited to try to address some of these issues head on. What we might do, though, is work proactively with those campaigning organisations that do...NAT, THT and others? Also, we might consider whether maybe there is something UK-CAB might do in the area of training about HIV and treatment for NHS staff who are not in the HIV area.
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