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House of Lords

Monday, 12th June 2000.

The House met at half-past two of the clock: The LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.

Prayers—Read by the Lord Bishop of Birmingham.

HIV/AIDS: Awareness Campaigns

Baroness Massey of Darwen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What priority they are giving to public health awareness campaigns relating to HIV and AIDS.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): My Lords, we are committed to funding health promotion work for groups most at risk of HIV, and the general population. A budget of £3 million has been allocated for sexual health promotion work for the year 2000-01, including HIV/AIDS health promotion.

Baroness Massey of Darwen: My Lords, I thank my noble friend the Minister for his reply. He may remember earlier campaigns in the 1980s on HIV awareness featuring icebergs and gravestones, some of which were fairly incomprehensible and not very relevant. Can my noble friend say how specific groups will be targeted for HIV awareness campaigns, such as young people and ethnic minority groups?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, my noble friend is right to suggest that for any public awareness campaign to be effective it needs to be targeted at the various groups concerned. Some of the material that is being funded by the Department of Health is already so targeted. I should mention in particular the work on CHAPS for gay men and work with Enfield and Haringey Health Authority for African communities. As far as concerns my noble friend's more general point, I can tell her that the sexual health and AIDS strategy that is now being developed will of course pick up those issues.

Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, I welcome the fact that the sexual health strategy is being combined with the HIV/ AIDS strategy. Clearly we hope that that will be produced in a very short space of time. I was lucky enough to be invited to visit a group of young people infected with HIV/AIDS. They wrote back to me saying how much they appreciated being able to meet parliamentarians and thereby understand the political processes. They also said:

    "However we feel, from our own experiences, that HIV is still 'left in the closet' and we would like to see HIV-AIDS being taught in schools to raise the awareness of other people our age and younger".

Will the Minister include that suggestion in his plans?

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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, the noble Lord raises a most important point. As part of the strategy that is being developed, we shall be looking very closely at the most effective forms of communication with young people. If we can give as much information as possible in as sensitive a way as possible, I believe that we can do much to remove the stigma of HIV/AIDS, which is so crucial to the success of future prevention programmes and to securing a more tolerant society.

Baroness Rendell of Babergh: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that young people find it notoriously difficult to accept health warnings? Indeed, we know this from their reaction towards campaigns aimed at stopping youngsters from smoking. Therefore, does my noble friend agree that any campaign, or anything in the nature of posters and advertisements in newspapers, must be particularly sensitive and involve a psychological approach to young people's feelings and problems?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Yes, my Lords. I very much agree with my noble friend. Past experience with health promotion campaigns over many years has shown that, unless they are developed with young people in mind, they very often fail. When it comes to young people, I am convinced that the development of our strategy will enable us to ensure that the focus is both sensitive and informative. It must also ensure that the message gets across to young people.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, following the supplementary question from the noble Baroness, Lady Rendell, I sat on the all-party investigation into AIDS a year or two ago. It was made very clear to us then that many of these groups have almost their own language and terminology. Indeed, literature based on such language is much more appreciated and effective. Can the Minister assure us that he will take such matters into consideration?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, the noble Baroness may recall that I, too, sat on the all-party group's inquiry on AIDS. It was an extraordinary and moving occasion to have appear before us witnesses from so many different groups, especially young people. They certainly made a big impact on the Government's thinking about the way that we should develop programmes in the future. Yes, I do agree with the noble Baroness. Some of the campaigns that have already been developed—for example, the recent television advert entitled, "Clem and Lydia"—very much took the point that, if we are to get through to young people, we must speak their language.

Lord Morris of Manchester: My Lords, my noble friend is aware of my special interest as president of the Haemophilia Society. Can he help me by updating us now on the number of people with haemophilia who, having been infected with HIV by their NHS treatment, have since died of AIDS; and how this compares with the number who, after being infected with Hepatitis C, have since died of cancer of the liver?

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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I do not have the exact information to hand. However, I am very much aware of my noble friend's concerns in this area. As far as concerns people suffering from haemophilia, this Government are determined to ensure that they receive the most appropriate services possible. I am shortly to meet directors of the haemophilia centres to talk through such matters with them.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: My Lords, bearing in mind the rate of growth of HIV and AIDS among heterosexuals, what guidance is given to people travelling abroad, and in particular people travelling to sub-Saharan Africa?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, the noble Baroness is right to raise that issue. The latest figures I have for 1999 show that the number of new diagnoses among heterosexuals exceeded those among gay and bisexual men. For those who have been classified by place of infection, 77 per cent were infected in Africa. As regards any future targeted prevention programme, we shall have to think carefully about how best to get messages across, particularly in the context of people travelling abroad. That is the whole purpose of developing a sexual HIV/AIDS strategy. It is a matter that we shall clearly need to reflect upon.

Earl Howe: My Lords, am I correct in believing that English health authorities between them submit 100 annual reports to the Department of Health on the prevention and treatment of AIDS under the AIDS (Control) Act 1987, and that these reports are not consolidated in any way? Is that not unsatisfactory? Would it not be better for the Department of Health to publish a single report to give an overview of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment across the country as a whole?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, there is no doubt that health authorities have a crucial role to play in the development of effective strategies at local level. Approximately £54 million is allocated to health authorities for the NHS HIV prevention budget. It is important that in reflecting on how successful those prevention budgets are, there is an effective mechanism for reviewing performance and progress. I do not wish to commit myself on whether collating the returns from health authorities in one annual report is the right direction to take. However, I am perfectly prepared to consider that. It is right to consider that matter alongside the development of the new strategy.

Animals in Transit: EU Welfare Rules

2.44 p.m.

Lord Elliott of Morpeth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they plan to take to persuade other European Union member states rigorously to enforce in their territory the provisions of Council

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    Directive 91/628/EEC on the protection of animals during transport, in respect of lambs and sheep which are being transported from the United Kingdom to or through other member states.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): My Lords, the European Commission is responsible for ensuring that EU legislation on animal welfare and transport is fully implemented and properly enforced by all EU member states. High animal welfare standards are important to the Government. We continue to press the Commission to take action to ensure that it meets its obligations in this respect. We shall also take an active role in EU and other institutions to encourage best welfare practice and discuss our concerns with individual EU member states whenever it is necessary to do so.

Lord Elliott of Morpeth: My Lords, I am grateful for that reply. However, does the Minister recall—I am sure she must—that when the directive that we are considering was introduced in 1995 all member states in the European Union welcomed it because it suggested that at long last there would be some ease in the suffering of animals having to undergo long journeys on their way to slaughter in various parts of Europe? Is the noble Baroness aware that the responsible body, Compassion in World Farming, has recently conducted an investigation over 18 months and has proved beyond any question that most European countries ignore this regulation, and that in consequence suffering has greatly increased? The noble Baroness rightly mentioned the European Commission. I believe that it is due to review this regulation. Will the noble Baroness please ensure that when the Commission's report comes before the European Agriculture Committee, the UK will use its strongest endeavour to seek a fundamental change from transportation of live animals to trade in meat?

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