Northern Ireland

DUP's Wilson says some diseases affect far more than AIDS

Sammy Wilson
Image caption Mr Wilson had been asked if he would wear a red ribbon supporting World Aids day

The East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson says there are areas of medicine and diseases which "have not received the same attention as AIDS and which affect far more people".

These diseases were "not always as a result of lifestyle choices", he said, adding they "deserve higher priorities then they have been given at present".

Mr Wilson's comments came in an e-mail sent last week to a constituent who had asked his MP if he would wear a red ribbon supporting a campaign in relation to World Aids day.

The DUP MP told his constituent that considerable resources had been put into dealing with AIDS "sometimes at the expense of other illnesses which affect people, such as dementia and cancer, and which are not always as a result of their own behaviour".

'Equally deserving'

Mr Wilson said he appreciated his constituent's concerns about AIDS but added: "You will appreciate that there are people who suffer from mental health problems, dementia and cancer which also have a huge impact on their lives and which are equally deserving of resources".

Image caption Trevor Clarke told the assembly on Tuesday he had been 'ignorant of the fact that the disease also affects heterosexual people'

On Tuesday, the Stormont Assembly passed a motion brought by the DUP which expressed concern at "the levels of stigma experienced by people living with HIV" and acknowledged "the need for a new campaign to promote awareness and prevention, specifically tailored to Northern Ireland".

During the debate, the DUP MLA Trevor Clarke admitted that he had not known that heterosexuals could get HIV until it was recently pointed out to him by a local charity.

Mr Clarke is a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly's health committee.

However, another of the motion's proposers, health committee chair Paula Bradley, told MLAs she knew personally how HIV affects people because it affected someone she loves.

The DUP MLA for North Belfast said she would "stand up and fight and do whatever I can to help anybody who is living with HIV or is at risk of contracting it".

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