Let’s have a conversation…

Every bit of time and energy we all put into this “WAD” will be hindered by four letters. It is right and it is necessary that the HIV community, charities and organisations highlight the stigma that people living with HIV face and there is never a better a day to do so than 1 December. The advances in medicine and research in the past few years – and trial results released in 2015 in particular – have been phenomenal; we know that if HIV negative people take specific HIV medication it can prevent them from becoming infected; we know that an undetectable viral load means it’s near impossible to transmit the virus to anyone else; we know that starting treatment at the time of diagnosis has greater health benefits than waiting until the immune system is compromised further. Unfortunately we also know stigma is still rife, widespread and impeding people from testing. We know people are ignorant of how much the condition has changed since the Eighties.

 

It’s fantastic that so many people chose to stand with the HIV community in solidarity, to those both lost to and living with HIV by wearing a red ribbon, but we could entangle or coat our entire bodies with a reel of the stuff and it would be hard to alter attitudes, maybe not with those who have a connection to the virus, but the public at large. In the UK this is largely thanks to a very graphic and memorable campaign which marks its 30th anniversary next year, many will still remember John Hurt’s voice “…it could be the death of you.”

 

Across the globe the four letter word can still be a reality for many millions of people, but it is HIV that connects us all, it is HIV that has spread across the World. It is HIV that those of us living and deceased all have in common. It’s not going to be an easy dialogue and it will divide people, lines are drawn between experiences and memories of today and those of ten, twenty or thirty years ago. But we need to talk about it and we need to talk about its significance – the pros and cons. Let’s have a conversation…

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