Page last updated at 18:45 GMT, Thursday, 1 December 2011

HIV and Aids report debate

On 1 December 2011 peers debated a report by the HIV and AIDS in the United Kingdom Select Committee.

The debate, led by Conservative peer Lord Fowler, marked world Aids Day, held annually on 1 December.

A former health minister, Lord Fowler presided over the the world's first major government-sponsored national Aids awareness drive in the early 1980s.

The campaign's stark, unambiguous warnings shocked viewers and it immediately faced criticism but was later hailed as one of the most successful.

Recalling the criticism that he received, Lord Fowler said the view that he and his colleagues had taken was that "disease was disease, suffering was suffering" and they had an obligation to act.

Lord Fowler argued that since that campaign, there had been a failure to prevent the spread of HIV, with not enough resources targeted at prevention.

Opposition spokesman Lord Collins of Highbury warned that HIV infection was "on the rise again in the UK", with a quarter of those infected unaware that they have the virus.

Lord Collins called for an increase in access to HIV testing, including tests being routinely offered to new patients at GPs' surgeries.

He also alleged that there had been an "increasing politicisation of public health" with "less socially acceptable" conditions such as HIV/AIDS being disadvantaged.

For the government, Baroness Northover said that the UK remained "a relatively low-prevalence country for HIV", and pointed to measures such as needle exchanges which helped prevent HIV transmission in intravenous drug users.

The government provides other prevention services, such as testing and the distribution of condoms, she added.

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