Every year December world AID’s day is held and people around the world wear a red ribbon to demonstrate their support. The event is organised by the charity Nation AID’s Trust (NAT) and aims to unite the world in the fight against aids, support people living with the virus and commemorate the people that have lost their lives to AID’s
The HIV/AID’s epidemic started in the 1984 and since then has taken the lives of around 35 million people. There are roughly 100,000 people living in the UK with AID’s, two thirds of them are men and an estimated 6,000 more people are diagnosed each year with the virus.
One of the main focuses of the day is to try and remove the stigma around being diagnosed with AID’s. Since the virus was discovered drugs and methods of keeping the symptoms under control have been used successfully in practice. Now a diagnosis of HIV/AID’s is not a death sentence; people with the virus usually have the same life expectancy as someone without it.
NAT and the NHS are working in collaboration trying to fight the virus and the health service has promised a greater emphasis on person-centred care and more joined-up services. Deborah Gold, Chief Executive of NAT, says:
“This World AIDS Day, NAT is calling for a step-change in how the NHS approaches HIV. We need to maintain our excellent treatment outcomes while building future health services which meet the care and support needs of the over 100,000 people who will live with HIV for the rest of their lives.”
Removing the stigma around having the virus and getting people initially tested is one of the most important hurdles to overcome when tackling AID’s. To raise awareness this year Prince Harry and Rhianna both went to get tested for the virus in Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados. They both had the finger-prick test and both cases came back negative but the purpose of this was to show how quick and easy it is to get tested.
— Rihanna (@rihanna) 1 December 2016
Since the AID’s epidemic broke out just over 40 years ago lots of high profile figures have come forward as being HIV positive including Charlie Sheen, Danny Pintauro and Freddie Mercury.
Positively UK is a charity based in Islington that works with people who have been diagnosed HIV positive, offering workshops, support groups, medical help and advice about how to live with HIV on a daily basis. Silvia Petritti, the deputy CEO of Positively UK explains the huge advancements in HIV care including being able to have children who are HIV free, being able to not pass on the virus to sexual partners when it’s controlled with medication and longer life expectancy.
Silvia emphasises that the stigma around the virus is still the biggest thing people need to overcome;
“It is because of stigma that many people are still too scared to test for HIV and access lifesaving services. The most powerful tool we have to beat stigma is education and talking about HIV. The HIV activists of the 80’s used to say Silence = Death, and this is still true today.”