United Kingdom: Thatcher Stalwart to Head New AIDS Inquiry
December 30, 2010
A former health secretary during the Thatcher era, Norman Fowler, is leading an ad hoc House of Lords investigation into UK HIV/AIDS efforts.
A December report from the Health Protection Agency found that a quarter of people with HIV do not realize they are infected. In 2009, 6,630 people were newly diagnosed in the UK. While fewer infections are now acquired abroad, domestic infections are rising, especially among men who have sex with men.
"We're on the verge of having 100,000 people in the UK infected and we want to look at what we can do about it," Fowler said. "There is a case for seeing how effective public education has been over the last 25 years and what lessons we should take from that."
The six-month investigation also will cover efforts to diagnose people with HIV earlier and HIV-related stigma and discrimination.
In the mid-1980s, Fowler inaugurated the "Don't Die of Ignorance" campaign, which included national television advertisements and leaflets mailed to every household describing how HIV is transmitted. HIV and other STD rates declined in response.
"It was a massive campaign, but something like 95 percent of the public understood it," Fowler said. "I got criticized for spending a lot of money on advertising, but it is not something I regret."
"It just seems to be crazy to have a massive campaign like that and almost go off the air over the next 25 years," said Fowler. "I know there have been campaigns since, but they have been very localized and, to use the Department of Health terminology, targeted. It would just be fascinating to see how effective these campaigns have been."
The Guardian (London)
12.30.2010; Sarah Boseley
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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