§ Mr. Carrington
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department took to mark World AIDS Day; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
World AIDS Day, a World Health Organisation initiative, is an annual event designed to expand and strengthen the effort to prevent AIDS. The theme for this year's event was "Women and AIDS" and reflected how AIDS affects women, not only those infected with HIV, but those in society as carers, health educators and mothers.
This Department asked Margaret Jay of the National AIDS Trust (NAT) to form a group to steer the United Kingdom response, the group had representatives from the United Kingdom statutory, voluntary and media sectors. The day was marked by many events up and down the country, organised by local statutory bodies and voluntary groups. We were encouraged by the response from private firms.
On the eve of World AIDS Day, the Chief Medical Officer and I attended an ecumenical service of hope at Westminster Abbey; this was an impressive collaborative effort and a most moving tribute to those who have died as a result of AIDS and a sign of hope for the future.
On World AIDS Day Saturday 1 December we were able to talk to people in the forefront of the fight against AIDS, and speak to those caring for people with HIV infection and AIDS, and patients. We visited the institute of Child Health and the Royal Free hospital, and the Chief Medical Officer went on to visit Mildmay Mission hospital and London Lighthouse.
We were also able, through the media, to assure people of this Government's continuing commitment to do all in our power to prevent the future spread of HIV.