I am really pleased that yesterday on World Aids Day the motion for a resolution was adopted by the parliament on the EU response to HIV/AIDS in the EU and neighbouring countries.
The far-right Europe for Freedom and Democracy (EFD) group, of which UKIP are a member, asked for roll call votes on a number of passages in the motion. This means that the vote of each MEP is registered and made publically available so it’s possible to see which parts of the text they supported.
The conservatives Roger Helmer, Sajjad Karim and Charles Tannock don’t support the strong link in national programmes between HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health.
Helmer and Tannock voted against the part of the motion supporting equitable and affordable access to contraception too.
I wonder if they know that on a daily basis more than 7000 people are newly infected by HIV globally. Or that of the 24,703 people diagnosed with HIV in Western Europe in 2009 it is estimated that around 77% of these infections resulted from sexual contact.
The inclusion of HIV/AIDS on the European public health agenda is a vital step in significantly reducing the number of new HIV infections. To prevent the spread of the disease people must be provided with access to adequate information on contraception, sex education and access to means of protection from HIV.
The World Health Organisation has recognised that:
HIV affects, or potentially affects, all the dimensions of women’s sexual and reproductive health — pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, abortion, use of contraception, exposure to, diagnosis and treatment of STIs and their exposure to sexual violence. For instance, HIV infection accelerates the natural history of some reproductive illnesses and increases the severity of others” (WHO, 2006).
As I have said before, I fully support a woman’s right to choose. An abortion is a serious, life-altering decision, but the person whose life would be most altered and whose decision it fundamentally remains is the pregnant woman in question.
Women living with HIV/AIDS are at greater risk of septicaemia and post-operative complications. Denying a woman the right to safe and legal abortion and post-abortion care can not only puts her reproductive health at risk it also puts her life in danger. This part of the motion was not supported by Nirj Deva, Roger Helmer, Sajjad Karim, Timothy Kirkhope, Emma McClarkin and Charles Tannock.
We’ve not yet found a cure for HIV/AIDS, but, there is international agreement from organisations such as the WHO and the UN that the spread of HIV can brought to a halt and indeed reversed with policies and practices targeted at its prevention.