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PICTURE DIARY: Brighton and Hove remembers those lost to HIV and AIDS

Graham Robson December 3, 2015

World AIDS Day Candlelit Vigil 2015The Annual Candlelight Vigil and Reading of the Names of those lost in Brighton and Hove to HIV/AIDS brought hundreds to the Aids Memorial in New Steine Gardens last night, Tuesday, December 1.

The event was organised and delivered by the Brighton & Hove World AIDS Day (WAD) Partnership which is chaired by Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) and includes: Lunch Positive, the Sussex Beacon, Gscene Magazine, Sussex Ecumenical HIV Chaplaincy, Peer Action, the BHCC Partnership Community Safety Team and the Brighton & Hove LGBT Community Safety Forum.

The Mayor of Brighton and Hove, Cllr Lynda Hydes, was joined by the leaders of the Labour, Conservative and Green Groups on Brighton & Hove City Council, Sussex Police Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne, the local ward Councillors for Queens Park Ward, Paula Murray for Brighton and Hove City Council and Chief Superintendent Nev Kemp, the LGBT Champion for Sussex Police.

James Ledward from Gscene magazine welcomed everyone to the event, and highlighted the results of a snap poll for World AIDS Day commissioned by Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), which found that 77% of gay men living with HIV who had responded to the poll had experienced stigma, with:

‚ô¶ 63% of respondents saying it was most prevalent within the gay community

‚ô¶ 60% saying it came from online dating platforms and

‚ô¶ 58% when dating.

He reminded everyone that while the Leader of the Council, Cllr Warren Morgan had committed the city to achieving zero stigma, zero transmissions and zero deaths from HIV by 2020 at the launch of the Martin Fisher Foundation in September, in 2016 everyone should concentrate all their efforts first and foremost on challenging all forms of stigma and discrimination so that at the World AIDS Day Candlelit Vigil in 2016 we were not listening to similar depressing statistics.

The reading of the names followed then people laid their candles round the base of ‘TAY’ the Brighton AIDS Memorial.

Cllr McCafferty
Cllr McCafferty

Councillor McCafferty, convener of the Green group on Brighton and Hove City Council, said:¬†“I’m deeply moved to be a part of this event and pleased that I can make some kind of contribution in the fight against HIV/AIDS.¬† It’s so important that we remember those who are no longer with us, and support those who are still living with and fighting against HIV/AIDS.¬† Reading the names of lives lost is an incredibly humbling experience, and I hope in some way pays tribute to the amazing people who we have lost.

“The fight against HIV/AIDS has come a long way, with treatments now available which mean many people with HIV are living longer and healthier lives. But much remains to be done.¬† Regular HIV tests are important for anyone who is sexually active, as 1 in 6 people with HIV don’t know they have it. There’s still a huge stigma and a number of myths associated with HIV/AIDS which hamper effective treatment, and globally there are still challenges in providing equal access to treatments.¬†

“It is still critical to support the organisations who provide advice, treatment and education for people living with HIV/AIDS, and World Aids Day helps to raise essential funds needed to ensure this vital work can continue.¬† We all have a part to play in tackling the ongoing rise of HIV in the city”

James Ledward, commented after the event: “It is so depressing to find that after all the work that has been done to tackle stigma suffered by people with HIV, this THT poll indicates that much of it comes from within the LGBT community. We need to put our house in order and a good start would be to commence challenging the internalised stigma and poor behaviour that is manifesting itself in sections of the LGBT community locally.”

Warm drinks were provided by Lunch Positive the weekly HIV lunch club that provides a healthy meal, community and social space for people with HIV.

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Photos by James Brooks and Graham Hobson.

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