HIV image in online Green manifesto removed by party

The Green Party has temporarily removed an online version of its manifesto after it was criticised for using an image of an ill man to illustrate its policy on HIV.

The image appeared in the easy-read version of the document.

Some users on social media suggested it was misleading and stigmatising.

The Green Party said it had acted after being alerted to how the image "could be misinterpreted".

Easy-read documents aim to make information easier to understand, particularly for people with learning disabilities and other communication issues.

They use short, simple sentences, often illustrated with pictures.

In its manifesto launched on Wednesday, the Green Party of England and Wales pledged to work towards "no more HIV transmissions by 2030".

The party said that would include giving "access to the HIV prevention pill online, in pharmacies and from GP services, and renewing successful opt-out HIV testing programmes in A&Es in all areas with a high prevalence of HIV".

The easy-read version of the policy said: "We will try to stop any new people getting HIV by 2030."

This was illustrated by a picture of a man looking ill and holding his hand to his throat, in front of a large red cross.

General election banner
[BBC]

One person on X, formerly Twitter, said the image wrongly gave "a slight implication that people living with HIV are sick (and....dare I say, airborne contagious)".

Another said the "whole tone" was "stigmatising".

A spokesperson for the Green Party of England and Wales said: "Soon after publication we were alerted to how an image we used in our easy-read manifesto could be misinterpreted.

"For clarity we temporarily took the manifesto down to replace this image with a more suitable image that better communicates our policy to work towards no more HIV transmissions by 2030.”

HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is transmitted through bodily fluids.

People on effective treatments can live healthy lives and not pass the virus on to others.

In 2019, the government pledged to end HIV transmission by 2030.

In their manifesto earlier this week, the Conservatives recommitted themselves to this, and said that, “subject to evaluation”, they would “expand HIV opt-out testing in emergency departments in England”.

Labour has promised in its manifesto to commission a new HIV action plan in England "in pursuit of ending HIV cases by 2030".

The Liberal Democrats have not included a pledge on HIV in their manifesto, but have previously suggested they also back ending transmission in England by 2030.