Eighteen million people around the world live with HIV but do not know they are infected. Endangering both themselves and countless others, they represent a public health challenge that affects not only Africa but every part of the world, including Europe and the United States. We stand at a tipping point in the AIDS crisis – and unless we can increase the numbers tested and treated, we will not defeat it. In spite of the progress since the 1980s there are still over 1.5 million deaths and over 2 million new HIV infections a year.
Former Health Secretary Lord Fowler has travelled to nine cities around the globe to report on the position today. What he discovered was a shocking blend of ignorance, prejudice, bigotry and intolerance. In Africa and Eastern Europe, a rising tide of discrimination against gay and lesbian individuals prevents many from coming forward for testing. In Russia, drug users are dying because an intolerant government refuses to introduce the policies that would save them. Extraordinarily, Washington has followed suit and excluded financial help for proven policies on drugs, and has turned its back on sex workers.
Norman Fowler started his career as a journalist at The Times and for over thirty years was an elected MP, serving in Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet before becoming Chairman of the Conservative Party under John Major. He joined the House of Lords in 2001. He is the longest-serving British Health Secretary since the Second World War, and has devoted much of his life to raising awareness about HIV/AIDS.
In his new book “AIDS: Don’t die of Prejudice” Norman Fowler reveals the steps that must be taken to prevent a global tragedy. Aids: Don’t Die of Prejudice is a lucid yet powerful account, both an in-depth investigation and an impassioned call to arms against the greatest public health threat in the world today.
We ordered a couple of copies which arrived today, our staff will share and read this book and in a couple of weeks, I’ll ask them what they thought of it and gather their opinions for you to read. If you own your own copy (Amazon Link) we’d like to hear your views, let us know in the comments..
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Tagged Africa, AIDS crisis, bigotry, Eastern Europe, Former Health Secretary Lord Fowler, hiv, HIV infections, ignorance, intolerance, Lord Fowler, Margaret Thatcher, Norman Fowler, prejudice
Asylum seekers and other non-British citizens are set to be given free HIV treatment after the government indicated it was willing to accept an amendment from Lord Fowler to the health bill.
Doctors working with people who have HIV have long argued that refusing free HIV drugs on the NHS to overseas visitors, including asylum seekers, is morally wrong and risks spreading the virus. Fowler, who chaired a House of Lords inquiry into the state of the HIV epidemic in Britain, nearly 25 years after he launched, as a Tory health secretary, the first major campaign warning of the the dangers of Aids, agreed with them.
His amendment to the bill will allow overseas visitors to be treated for HIV on the NHS if they have been here for six months. This brings England into line with Scotland and Wales. Experts believe the cost of providing drugs from a clinic will be far less than the possible costs of treating someone in hospital for Aids. The drugs also prevent new infections.
Ministers have indicated they will accept the amendment without a vote later this week. Anne Milton, the public health minister, said: “This measure will protect the public and brings HIV treatment into line with all other infectious diseases. Treating people with HIV means they are very unlikely to pass the infection on to others.” Perhaps anticipating possible criticism from some sections of the press, she added: “Tough guidance will ensure this measure is not abused.”
Professor Jane Anderson, chair of the British HIV Association – which represents doctors who have been placed in a dilemma by the current rules – said: “This is good news, both for people living with HIV and for public health in general. For too long access to treatment and care for some of the most vulnerable people has been compromised by the English charging arrangements.
“There is no ethical or economic reason to leave people living with HIV without appropriate treatment. Recent research shows that proper treatment can also reduce infectiousness and so stop other people becoming infected.
“I am delighted that Lord Fowler has finally won the argument on this point. It’s a decision that will certainly save lives and improve the quality of life of many who were previously shut out from appropriate treatment.”
Original Article by Sarah Boseley at The Guardian