MP tells Commons he is HIV positive

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Media captionLloyd Russell-Moyle urged ministers to review cuts to sexual health budgets

An MP has revealed he is HIV positive during a House of Commons debate on public health.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, is the first MP to reveal his HIV status in the Commons and the second to disclose he is living with the condition.

He said he felt compelled to speak out about an issue which had affected him personally.

Mr Russell-Moyle urged ministers to review cuts to sexual health budgets.

He told the Commons that next year would mark 10 years since he became HIV positive.

Finding out he had the virus was a “real shock” but it was “not the end of the world, even though it might feel like that for a few seconds”, Mr Russell-Moyle, 32, said.

“It’s been a long journey, from the fear to acceptance, and from today advocacy, knowing my treatment keeps me healthy and that it protects any partner I have.”

He added: “I finally wanted to be able to stand in this place and tell all those out there living with HIV, that their status does not define them.

“We can be whoever we want to be and to those who haven’t been tested, maybe because out of fear, I say it is better to live in knowledge than die in fear.”

The MP said he chose the timing of his announcement to mark the 30th World Aids Day, which is on Saturday.

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Mr Russell-Moyle said he wanted to reassure other that people being HIV positive did not define them

In 2005, Labour MP Chris Smith revealed to a newspaper he had been HIV positive for 17 years, a few months before he was made a peer.

The former Labour cabinet minister “had been very supportive”, Mr Russell-Moyle added.

Ian Green, chief executive of sexual health charity the Terrence Higgins Trust, said Mr Russell-Moyle’s announcement “does a lot to normalise HIV in the public’s mind” and would help tackle the stigma associated with the virus.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn praised the MP’s “brilliant and historic” speech.

He said: “I’m very grateful that he mentioned my good friend Chris Smith who very bravely told the world in 1984 that he was gay and proud of it, and we’re proud of Chris for doing that.”

During the debate, Mr Russell-Moyle said he thought the country was at “a real crossroads” about where to go with HIV.

He said: “We start to see really the tools in our hands to eliminate HIV, really start to reduce HIV infections.

“But at the same time, the government is starting to slash sexual health budgets.”

Mr Russell-Moyle added: “We have got the tools but we seem to be going in the wrong direction.”

Health Minister Steve Brine described the speech as “incredible” and “brave”.

He said the treatment of and attitudes around HIV had evolved, adding: “We can be very proud of the government’s record over many, many years and of course all parties.”

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