Naomi Phillips, head of public affairs for the British Humanist Association (BHA), said, “The BHA aims to lend its support to significant initiatives to meet global challenges. For us, World AIDS Day is such an initiative, where uniting in the fight against HIV must begin with accepting scientific evidence for the basis and treatment of HIV/AIDS, and acknowledging human responsibility and endeavour as the way to reduce harm, to prevent unnecessary suffering and deaths, and to combat prejudice and discrimination.
“The BHA was a founding member of the Protest the Pope campaign, which condemned the policies of the Pope and his state, the Holy See, including their opposition to condom distribution in AIDS prevention programmes across the world. We ourselves raised funds for secular AIDS treatment projects in Africa.
“More recently, we have worked with others to tackle the growing problem of some evangelical churches in the UK promoting ‘miracle cures’ for HIV through prayer, anointment and other methods. It is nothing short of tragic that people have died believing the false claims made by the pastors and churches they trusted, and choosing to pray to be healed rather than keep taking medication which was keeping them alive. We would like to see the government take steps to expose, condemn and stop these practices which are undoubtedly dangerous and damaging to the public health.”
Find out more about World AIDS Day http://www.worldaidsday.org/
World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.
Why is World AIDS Day important?
More than 90,000 people are currently living with HIV in the UK and globally an estimated 33.3 million people have HIV. More than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007 have died from the virus, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
Today, many scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. But despite this, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with HIV. World AIDS Day is important as it reminds the public and Government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.