Community gathers for World Aids Day Candlelight vigil and to celebrate 40 years of progress.
Friends, family, local organisations and community gathered at the TAY Aids memorial in New Steine Gardens, Brighton, where the names of those who have died of HIV are read out every year.
Mayor Alan Robins, of Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “Today is a day we stand in solidarity. To remember the loved ones, we have lost. On this World Aids Day, there is an opportunity for every community to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for those living with HIV, and to remember those who have lost their lives to the epidemic.
“We also welcome the Government’s announcement of the new National HIV action plan, which identifies the first national funding for HIV testing in almost a decade. This will make testing available for many more people. This is a big step in the right direction. But there is still more to do.”
Gary Pargeter, the Service Manager from Lunch Positive, commented that we cannot forget other areas that HIV impacts. “The amazing advances in PREP, U=U, and Treatment Is Prevention, is life-changing for many. Hugely valuable in normalising HIV, helping to reduce and hopefully end HIV Stigma improving quality of life.
“However, with all these advances which are now becoming the everyday narrative of HIV, let us also reflect on the fact that for many people; inequality, loneliness, social and financial disadvantage, challenging life circumstances, poor health, lack of agency, and other factors can still make life with HIV difficult and distressing.”
Phillip Wagg, health and promotion coordination for THT Brighton and Hove, said about the event: “World Aids Day is a real opportunity to reflect on the people we have lost and to think about the history of HIV. But also, we cannot ignore the fact that HIV is changing so rapidly every day.
“The announcement of the government today, that they are on track with their action plan to end HIV transmission by 2030 is welcomed”
Kemptown, MP Russell Lloyd-Moyle, commenting about the government HIV action plan said: “We in Brighton are pleased that we are going to be the centre of the action plan. The testing and opt-out will mean that everyone routinely getting blood work will have an HIV test.
“You can see how close we are here in the city. But we can only do that if we tackle both the stigma, make sure people are adherent to their treatment, make sure people are supported with their treatment, mental health, and with support with issues they are going through.
“It is in our grasp. In ten years, I want to be talking about the success of what we have done and how we are going to roll that out globally.”
For more information on testing, PREP and how to access it in the NHS click here: I Want PREP now