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Sammy Wilson: Aids funding 'at the expense of other illnesses'

East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson. Picture by Paul Faith, Press Association

DUP MP Sammy Wilson has claimed that resources have been given to the battle against Aids "at the expense of other illnesses".

A constituent emailed the East Antrim MP to ask if he would wear a red ribbon for World Aids day, which is being held today.

However Mr Wilson said large resources had already been put into battling Aids.

He said there were other diseases which "have not received the same attention as AIDS and which affect far more people".

He added these diseases were "not always as a result of lifestyle choices".

Mr Wilson said while he appreciated his constituent's concerns about Aids "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".

The comments come after the assembly passed a DUP motion on Tuesday which expressed concern at "the levels of stigma experienced by people living with HIV" and said a need awareness campaign was needed.

DUP MLA Trevor Clarke told the assembly he did not know heterosexual people could contract HIV until the Positive Life charity enlightened him.

Mr Clarke, a member of Stormont's health committee, thanked Jacquie Richardson from the charity.

"Meeting her for the first time was a turning point for me, having been ignorant of the fact that the disease also affects heterosexual people," he said.

He added: "The work that Positive Life did in changing my opinion - not only my opinion but that of many others - helped to remove the stigma".

The DUP motion was passed.

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