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Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle tells House of Commons he is HIV positive

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Labour’s Lloyd Russell-Moyle has revealed to fellow MPs he is HIV positive during a House of Commons debate.

The Kemptown and Peacehaven MP made public his status on HIV and World AIDS Day and paid tribute to the “world-class treatment” he has received from the NHS since being diagnosed at the age of 22.

Mr Russell-Moyle, 32, said: “I have not only survived, I’ve prospered, and any partner I have is safe and protected.”

Telling MPs the UK is “at a juncture in the fight against HIV and AIDS”, he attacked the government’s “reluctance” to make HIV prevention drug PrEP available on the NHS as “disgraceful”.

He said: “We now know of cases of young men who have tried to gain access to PrEP, who have been turned away and who have subsequently contracted HIV.

“These men’s HIV statuses were entirely avoidable. The government must now act to prevent this from happening again.”

Mr Russell-Moyle described how HIV is “still deeply misunderstood” and “etched into much of the public’s memory as a death sentence”.

“HIV conjures images of gravestones and a life marked by tragedy,” he added.

“The reality is that today, the prognosis is wildly different to what it was when it was bought to the public’s attention.

“If treated, someone who is HIV positive, like myself, can expect to live a long and full life with little to no side-effects from the drugs regime.

“I hope that my coming out serves to defy the stigma around the disease. I hope that more people will understand that effective treatment keeps people who are HIV positive healthy, and it protects their partners.

“[I hope] that my story might encourage others to get tested and ultimately begin their treatment earlier on.”

Chris Smith MP in 2005, now Lord Smith
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Chris Smith was the first MP to reveal his HIV positive status in 2005

Mr Russell-Moyle was afforded a rare round of applause in the Commons following his speech, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn praised his “bravery”.

“His dignity and hope will inspire people across the country and around the world – those with HIV, and also those of us who will always stand together with them,” Mr Corbyn added in a statement.

Away from the Commons chamber, Mr Russell-Moyle explained he had a “duty” as an MP to speak out and could not “keep quiet anymore” about an issue which affects him “so personally”.

He told the Press Association: “A few months ago I was giving out awards, congratulating people who have spoken out about their HIV status, saying how brave they were, and there was a feeling in the back of my mind saying, ‘Well, if I’m congratulating people, I also need to be so brave to do that’.

“My job as an MP is to speak out about personal experiences and linking those with political experience. And if I can’t do it, how can I be asking others to do that?”

Mr Russell-Moyle is the second MP to ever announce he has HIV as a member of parliament.

In 2005, former Labour cabinet minister Chris Smith, the first openly gay British MP, revealed he had been HIV positive for 17 years.

He stood down from the Commons at that year’s general election.

Mr Russell-Moyle revealed he had spoken to the now Lord Smith about his decision to make public his status.

He said: “He ended up coming out when he knew he was standing down. I guess the difference is now that I’m hoping not to stand down, I’m hoping that I’ll win the next election.”

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