Diseases affecting“far more people” than AIDS have received less attention, according to East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson.
Mr Wilson made the controversial comment in an e-mail sent to a constituent who had asked him to wear a red ribbon supporting a campaign in relation to World Aids Day.
The red ribbon is an internationally recognised way to show support and solidarity to millions of people worldwide living with HIV.
The DUP MP told his constituent that “considerable resources had been put into dealing with AIDS, sometimes at the expense of other illnesses which affect people, such as dementia and cancer, and which are not always as a result of their own behaviour”.
These diseases were “not always as a result of lifestyle choices”, he said, adding that they “deserve higher priorities then they have been given at present”.
Recently, the Assembly passed a motion brought by the DUP which expressed concern at “the levels of stigma experienced by people living with HIV” and acknowledged “the need for a new campaign to promote awareness and prevention, specifically tailored to Northern Ireland”.
Health committee chair Paula Bradley, told MLAs she knew personally how HIV affects people because it affected someone she loves.
The former Newtownabbey DUP councillor said she would “stand up and fight and do whatever I can to help anybody who is living with HIV or is at risk of contracting it”.
However, party colleague MLA Trevor Clarke, a member of the Assembly’s health committee admitted that he had not known that heterosexuals could get HIV until it was recently pointed out to him by a local charity.