An interview with the UK: The HIV/AIDS Pandemic

Posted by Anonymous on Friday, July 18, 2014 with No comments
United Kingdom speaks on HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Questions replied to:
1.What is UK’s stance on HIV/AIDs pandemic spread?
2.What is UK doing to prevent such an outbreak?
3.What solution does UK hope to reach?

The HIV/AIDS pandemic has proved to be one of the greatest threats to humanity. Currently, 35.3 million people around the world are combating the virus of which 50% are women. The vulnerability of women to the disease is due to a multitude of factors - economic vulnerability, lack of awareness and education, violence against women, social stigma, societal gender norms, etc. The socially constructed gender norms have made it harder to fight the virus. The distinct roles and behaviours of men and women in a given culture, dictated by that culture's gender norms and values, give rise to gender differences, most of which are gender discriminatory, proving detrimental to one group.

In the United Kingdom (UK), the HIV/AIDS epidemic was first introduced in 1981, and since then, technological, economical and medical advances have made a tremendous impact in the fight against AIDS. Since its discovery, the UK has made several efforts to combat the epidemic and the social stigma associated with it. Although the majority of AIDS patients are male, steps have been taken to break the gender norms that obstruct the battle against HIV/AIDS.

Unlike other countries, society in the UK doesn’t follow such rigid norms, and most women are able to come to terms with their illness and seek treatment publicly. The Terence Higgins Trust, established in 1982, was the first AIDS organization in UK that brought the HIV/AIDS pandemic to public attention. The death of acclaimed singer, Freddie Mercury in 1991, also raised public awareness of AIDS. Since then, the fight against AIDS has come a long way. The Government announced in 1999, that all pregnant women would now be offered an HIV test as part of their routine care, and that they would be advised to take it whatever the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy This initiative saw an 80% decrease in the number of children born with HIV and lowered the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV to below 1%. In 2012, HIV treatment was made universally available, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, so as to protect the public and prevent infection. In 2013, UK met its target of spending 0.7% of GDP on international development for the year, establishing the country as a world leader in the HIV response. In August, Ministers announced plans to change the law in order to allow HIV self-testing kits. This would enable people to perform a simple saliva test at home, which would quickly give the user a “negative”, or a “positive” result. It was hoped that making the tests more readily available would help reduce HIV prevalence. Since 1981, HIV treatment in the UK has come a long way.  Most HIV victims are living longer lives and the number of AIDS related deaths has seen a dramatic decrease. 

The fight against HIV/AIDS, with a gender perspective, has a long way to go. Gender discrimination has deterred the fight against AIDS as a whole and will leave the world vulnerable. Social stigma hold back progress and it is upon this that the Government of UK has targeted, introducing HIV/AIDS causes, symptoms and treatment into the curriculum. Similarly, the media is being called upon to increase awareness regarding HIV/AIDS and to break social stigma. Officials have also established that NHS administers free treatment. The Equality Act 2010 was incorporated to prohibit discrimination of HIV patients in workplaces. Currently, the main aim is to educate and raise awareness amongst the public regarding HIV/AIDS and the social stigma present.