Scottish Election 2016

Overview

Ahead of the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary elections, HIV Scotland and the National AIDS Trust have developed calls to action for the next Scottish Government to improve the lives of people living with HIV, and curb future HIV transmissions. Over the past few months, HIV Scotland has been discussing these calls to action with the five main political parties.

There are currently 5,099 people diagnosed as living with HIV in Scotland, with an estimated additional 1,600 people unaware of their HIV positive status. Our manifesto reflects the cross cutting nature of HIV - having relevance to areas such as equalities, education, stigma, justice and human rights. It sets out bold calls to action on a range of critical issues.

The election takes place on Thursday 6th May, with full details of registering to vote and who is eligible to vote available on the Electoral Commission website. Make sure you get registered in plenty of time so you can have your say.

What we want the next Scottish Government to do

Our election asks focus on five key policy areas that are important to people living with and at risk of HIV.

  1. Introduce compulsory sexual health and relationship education for all young people in schools, which is inclusive of young people of all sexual orientations and gender identities and has appropriate sexual health and HIV content.
  2. Protect and strengthen human rights in Scotland and ensure people living with and at risk of HIV are empowered to exercise these rights.
  3. Increase the funding and availability of HIV treatment, prevention and support programmes, including Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP).
  4. Ensure all people living with HIV in Scotland can access high-quality services, including mental health and peer support that is shaped around their needs.
  5. Use new devolved welfare powers to ensure that people can live healthy lives and are treated with dignity and respect.

Ask 1: Educate

Comprehensive and inclusive sexual health and relationship education is fundamental in view of the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. We must ensure that all children and young people, including LGBT pupils, are equipped with the information they need in order to lead a healthy life. In addition, education reduces stigma by ensuring people are aware of the facts of HIV. Stigma has consistently been identified by people living with HIV as a barrier to participation in society, community and political life. Myths and misunderstandings about HIV can also impact on the quality of services people receive, leaving them feeling isolated and unable to help shape their care. Education does not stop with informing our young people in schools; HIV awareness training must form a key part of training for relevant staff who may come into contact with people living with or at risk of HIV.

Ask 2: Empower

Action is required in Scotland to make clear the links between HIV and human rights, promote the human rights of people living with and at risk of HIV, and ensure that they can enjoy their human rights on an equal basis with others. Human rights form the bedrock of empowerment, enable people to advocate for themselves and have meaningful involvement in Scotland’s response to HIV. By adopting a human rights framework for our laws, policies and services, people living with and at risk of HIV can be empowered to make choices about their own lives and to participate fully in their communities.

Ask 3: Protect

HIV must remain a public health priority. It is clear that while core prevention and support strategies – including condom provision by services, provision of sterile injecting equipment, and advice and information – are important, there has been no significant reduction in the transmission of HIV over the last five years. There are now new opportunities for prevention and early diagnosis from the availability of home testing, Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and treatment as prevention, and all of these should be taken advantage of. Effective prevention and early diagnosis can ensure both a healthier and more prosperous population, as well as mitigating excessive costs to the health service from late interventions.

Ask 4: Support

The treatment, care and support people living with HIV receive – right from diagnosis – has a direct impact on their lives and how well they will live with HIV. The provision of quality HIV treatment and support services must be a priority, and extend beyond just HIV specialist services. New national policy initiatives in relation to both health and social care - including integration and self-directed support – provide opportunities to better meet people’s needs through the development of improved, coordinated services. In addition, services can only be at their most effective if people using them can shape and engage meaningfully with them: the first key objective of service reform should be to ensure services are built around people and communities.

Ask 5: Safeguard

Welfare reform continues to negatively affect people living with and at risk of HIV in Scotland. Following the passing of the Welfare Reform Act 2012, which resulted in the biggest change to the UK welfare system in 60 years, there have been cuts to crucial benefits which people experiencing ill health rely on. The Work & Welfare Reform Bill is poised to implement further changes to the social security system including direct cuts to these benefits.

The Political Party Manifestos

In the run up to the election, the political parties will publish their manifestos outlining their policy priorities for Scotland. We will produce a summary of what each of the main parties has said about the issues we have identified as being critical to people living with HIV and at risk of HIV.

Examining the Scottish 2016 election manifestos