World AIDS Day, has been marked on 1 December every year since 1988. It's an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died of the disease.
It’s 40 years since the first reported cases of HIV-related illnesses and deaths. Back then being diagnosed with HIV was a death sentence. Now, 98% of people living with HIV in the UK are on effective treatment and 97% can’t pass the virus on.
Although we’ve come a long way since, recent research by worldaidsday.org found that only a third of the UK public asked said they have sympathy for people living with HIV regardless of how they acquired it, and 1 in 5 thought you could acquire HIV through kissing. This shows that World AIDS Day is still much needed to raise awareness in order to support the estimated 105,200 people living with HIV in the UK.
In Bristol, Brigstowe, based at Easton Community Centre, subscribes to a vision of a world in which people living with HIV, and other long term health conditions and protected characteristics, live long and healthy lives, free from poverty, stigma, prejudice and discrimination. They’ve provided advice and support services, one-to-one peer support, group peer support, and clinic peer support for over 20 years. Their mission is to enhance the quality of life for people living with HIV.
Brigstowe offers specialist, confidential and free support, advice and information to anyone living with or affected by HIV. They also offer HIV Awareness Training to empower professionals with the skills and knowledge they need to work confidently with people living with, affected by or at risk of HIV and can tailor the training to meet the needs of organisations or businesses.
HIV remains a force that both divides people and brings them together. As the world learns to live with coronavirus, the Aids pandemic still provides valuable lessons.
Brigstowe volunteers are at Temple Meads station today raising awareness about World Aids Day and will part of the annual candlelit vigil this evening.