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Volume 130: debated on Monday 21 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is the number of persons in Wales now diagnosed as having AIDS; what has been the increase during the past 12 months; and what estimate has been made of the probable increase over the next 12 months.

At the end of February 1988, 19 cases of AIDS in Wales had been reported to the communicable diseases surveillance centre, of whom 15 died. Comparable figures for the end of February 1987 were 11 and nine. It is extremely difficult to make a reliable estimate for Wales.

Is my hon. Friend aware that a number of recent studies, including one in the United States of America, suggest that the ultimate number of people suffering from the disease will be far greater than anticipated'? I do not wish to be alarmist, but will there be an upgrading of current plans to meet that possibility?

I have noted the various interesting results of studies into mortality rates for men aged between 15 and 64. My hon. Friend may be pleased to know that I have every confidence in the existing voluntary system of reporting AIDS deaths, although I am aware that not all are recorded. There may be HIV-related deaths that do not fall within the clinical definition of AIDS.

Do not the World Health Organisation and all medical authorities recognise AIDS as the greatest threat to human health this century? Are not the number of AIDS cases doubling every 12 months? Projected over 10 years, does that not pose a serious threat to a large number, perhaps even the majority, of the world's population?

In view of that enormous threat, will the Minister ask his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to use his voice in the Cabinet to plead for a massive increase in research funding so that a cure can be found for AIDS? Should not the Government introduce a major public education programme to prevent the spread of AIDS through promiscuity?

To begin at the end, a massive public education campaign has been launched through the Health Education Council and, indeed, the Welsh Health Promotion Authority, which has been active in schools, local authorities and elsewhere. I shall certainly pass on to my right hon. Friend the hon. Gentleman's point about international research. Indeed, I am sure that my right hon. Friend will read his comments.