Political Leaders Unite To Support World Aids Day

Scotland's political leaders have united to promote solidarity with people living with HIV to shatter social stigmas and improve detection.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie and Green co-convener Patrick Harvie stood side-by-side in Holyrood wearing red ribbons to mark World Aids Day.

HIV Scotland chief executive George Valiotis described their unity as an inspiring symbol in the campaign for understanding, prevention and treatment.

Ms Sturgeon said: "I am proud that Scotland continues to play a leading role in HIV treatment and prevention, but it is important that we all address the myths and stigma that continue to create barriers for those living with, and at risk of, HIV.''

Nearly 5,000 people have been diagnosed with HIV in Scotland but it is estimated that one in four people with HIV do not realise they have it.

There were 374 new diagnoses of HIV in 2014, with 40% of those diagnosed after the point when treatment should have begun.

Mr Valiotis said: "It is inspiring to see all the leaders of Scotland's political parties standing united to mark World Aids Day. Their unity symbolises that everyone has a role in addressing HIV.

"There are many misunderstandings that continue to fuel the stigma that hinders people living a dignified life with HIV, and discourages people from getting tested and learning the facts about HIV.

"People from all walks of life and from all parts of Scotland can be affected by HIV, so on World Aids Day it is incumbent upon all of us not to be indifferent but to continue our country's powerful response by wearing a red ribbon, visiting www.hivscotland.com to learn the facts, and by treating people living with HIV with dignity and respect.''

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