On Saturday 24th November, Stephen Timms, MP for East Ham joined members of the Newham African community at Durning Hall, Forest Gate, to help highlight the huge challenge AIDS presents to the world. The event on the eve of World Aids Day was organised by the Newham African Forum and the HIV/AIDS Prevention Partnership.
It has been estimated that 33 million people worldwide are living with HIV, 2½ million of them children. This year 2½ million people will have been newly infected and 2.1 million have died from the disease. Stephen Timms compared this to three Twin Tower disasters daily or one tsunami a month.
Mr Timms noted the bold initiatives the Government has taken to help contain and reverse the spread of this horrific disease around the world. He remarked that ‘for this Labour Government, with our belief in social justice and equality for all, AIDS is a priority’.
He also spoke of what was still to be done. He said ‘To maintain progress, we need two things: a drive to make the global effort more strategic; and an end to stigma and prejudice.’
Mr Timms encouraged the Newham community to tackle prejudice in all its forms to ensure that efforts to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS, both internationally and domestically, are successful. Much remains to be done in the UK as well as overseas.
Stephen Timms said ‘We all have to counter the threat from HIV to human development. We can all help stand up against prejudice. Tackling discrimination and promoting equality requires political and moral leadership from politicians , but challenges each of us on how we choose to behave.’