- November 20, 2017
World AIDS Day is, of course, about remembering all those lost to HIV since the start of the epidemic. But it’s also about raising awareness of what it means to live with HIV, celebrating how much medical progress has been made and taking the opportunity to tackle the stigma that still surrounds the virus.
Medically, so much has changed since our namesake Terry Higgins died 35 years ago. He was one of the very first to die of an AIDS-related illness – before the acronym HIV has any meaning – and his friends set up our charity in his name to humanise the epidemic.
We work hard to continue that ethos today and place people living with and affected by HIV at the heart of all that we do.
Our work has evolved hugely over the last three decades. We now work to ensure people living with HIV can live well. But, as we did all those years ago, we continue to do all we can to prevent new HIV infections in the UK.
And, of course – although I wish I didn’t have to say ‘of course’, tackling stigma and updating knowledge remains a key part of our work. Yes, the government’s tombstone ads saved lives, but they also cast a long shadow.
Medically, so much has changed since our namesake Terry Higgins died 35 years ago
This year, at the Terrence Higgins Trust, we’re asking everyone to stand up and be counted this 1 December. That’s because we want the world, including Brighton, to see red.
Yes, we’re talking about pinning a red ribbon, the international symbol of HIV and AIDS awareness, to your jacket; but it’s also a call for everyone to join together to tackle stigma, educate others about HIV and work towards ending the HIV epidemic in the UK.
Thanks to medication people living with HIV can live long healthy lives. Treatment works by reducing the amount of virus in the blood to undetectable levels. Brilliantly, this protects the immune system from damage, and also means that HIV can’t be passed on.
To repeat: people living with HIV on effective treatment Can’t Pass It On. We know that out-of-date beliefs about HIV help to perpetuate dangerous stigma. On World AIDS Day, and every other day, we want to tackle that stigma and update people’s views.
We’re closer than ever to beating HIV but we won’t get there until we stamp out stigma. On 1 December, people all over the world will wear a red ribbon with pride, without fear or shame or stigma. On World AIDS Day, the colour red represents solidarity, love, activism and remembrance.
Please wear your red ribbon this World AIDS Day. That visibility and that solidarity is as important now as it ever was.