HC Deb 15 December 1989 vol 163 cc847-8W
Mr. Key

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the conclusions drawn from the expert symposium jointly organised by the health departments and the Health Education Authority on 24 November.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

The Health Departments and the Health Education Authority organised an expert symposium on 24 November to assess the current and future spread of HIV and AIDS in the United Kingdom. The proceedings will be published early in the new year. The clear conclusion of the symposium was that AIDS is a major threat throughout the world. There are three major modes of HIV transmission, all of which are now well-established in the United Kingdom. These aresexual intercourse, between men and between a man and woman. sharing of infected needles and syringes during injecting drug misuse. transmission from mother to unborn child.

Complacency must be avoided in our efforts to combat HIV and AIDS. There is still much to discover, but the long incubation period when a person is infectious with no obvious sign of illness, together with the usually fatal outcome of the disease, mean that it would be foolhardy to depart from a precautionary approach. We must establish the facts, we must plan, and we must educate.

In the light of this the Government remain committed to providing a framework for response which encourages effective and responsible action among statutory and voluntary bodies, and individuals. The five main aims of our strategy are: To stem the spread of HIV infection through public awareness campaigns, community-based prevention initiatives, and improved infection control procedures; To improve understanding of the epidemiology of HIV infection, how it is transmitted, the natural history of the disease, and how HIV-related illness can be prevented and treated; To provide appropriate diagnostic, treatment, care and support services for those affected by HIV: Through a range of measures to foster a climate of understanding and compassion, to discourage discrimination, and to safeguard confidentiality, within the wider context of public health requirements; To foster and encourage the full and continuing exchange of information between countries, and to encourage countries not to adopt coercive and discriminatory measures.

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