Boris Johnson criticised for not knowing difference of HIV and AIDS

Boris Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been criticised for delivering a speech which spoke of AIDS rather than HIV.

Health experts says the incorrect usage of terms promotes misunderstanding and increases stigma for those living with HIV.

The British PM was speaking about medical research and vaccines, when he made a comparison to HIV. Johnson was speaking to 200 business leaders at a Global Investment Summit held in London last week.

“We still don’t have a vaccine for AIDS, we don’t have a cure for the common cold. But within a year the appearance of COVID-19, this lethal new virus with this uncanny ability of transmission, we have forged an entirely new set of armour for our species and it’s getting stronger.” the Prime Minister reportedly said.

What Johnson should have been talking about however is HIV, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which scientists have spent decades researching potential vaccines and cures.

AIDS is a term used for people who are diagnosed with more than two conditions that are usually preventable, but occur because of their weakened immune system due to infection of the virus. The acronym stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.

While a cure or vaccine for HIV has not been developed, treatments for people living with HIV have improved significantly, so much that people on medication now have an undetectable viral load.

Combined with PrEP treatment, a once a day medication that protects people who do not have the virus, the number of new cases of HIV have dropped dramatically in many affluent counties.

Matthew Hodson, executive director of Aidsmap, told PinkNews that it was “disappointing” to see Johnson using the outdated phrase.

“It is disappointing that the Prime Minister cannot distinguish between HIV and AIDS,” Hodson said. “Ignorance leads to fear and stigma, which creates barriers to HIV testing and treatment and help to perpetuate this disease.”

The West Australian AIDS Council recently rebranded as WAAC to remove the acronym AIDS from their name.

OIP Staff

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