Shining spotlight on HIV normalises the virus, says charity

Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle has “done everybody a service” by disclosing his HIV status, a charity has said.

Revealing that he is the only current sitting MP with the virus “does a lot to normalise HIV in the public’s mind”, said Ian Green, chief executive of the sexual health charity the Terrance Higgins Trust.

He said when public figures talk about their views or experiences with HIV, it “does a huge amount” to tackle the stigma associated with the virus.

He also praised the Duke of Sussex, who has done much work with HIV and Aids charities.

Earlier this month, Harry called for HIV testing to be seen as “completely normal and accessible” in a video marking National HIV Testing Week.

The prince said people should not be ashamed or embarrassed about taking a test, and instead should treat it in the same way as people protect against “viruses like cold and flu”.

Mr Green said: “When Prince Harry publicly speaks about taking an HIV test, or last week helped us launch HIV testing week, or when he talks publicly about HIV being nothing to be feared, that does a huge amount to tackle the stigma associated with HIV.

“When public figures talk about their own views or experiences that goes a long way to deal with the issue.”

On Mr Russell-Moyle, he added: “I think he’s done everybody a service about talking about his own personal journey with HIV.

“I have had a couple of conversations with him and he’s aware that because he’s a Member of Parliament there is going to be a spotlight on him talking about his HIV diagnosis.

“I think it will go a long way to say that he’s very successful, he’s a Member of Parliament, he has no issue in terms of representing his constituency as somebody living with HIV. So that does a lot to normalise HIV in the public’s mind.

“I think he has taken a very important decision for him, and from talking to him I know the reason he wants to do this is because he wants to tackle the stigma associated with HIV head on.”

The Terrance Higgins Trust is running a “Zero HIV” campaign to mark World Aids Day, with the aim of ending new cases of HIV and eliminating stigma surrounding the illness.