World AIDS Day

Today’s guest blog comes from Aled Osborne, Fundraising and Communications Manager, Brigstowe.

December 1st is when we mark World AIDS Day. It is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Founded in 1988 by 2 people who were working in the World Health Organisation, the premise was simple: to raise awareness and to dispel stigma.

The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is ‘Communities Make the Difference’. This year it is important to recognise the essential role that communities have played and to continue to play in the HIV/AIDS response at the international, national and local levels.

Communities contribute to the HIV/AIDS response in many different ways. Their leadership and advocacy ensure that the response remains relevant and grounded, keeping people at the centre and leaving no one behind. Communities include peer educators, networks of people living with or affected by HIV, such as gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and sex workers, women and young people, counsellors, community health workers, voluntary and community sector organisations, and grass-roots activists.

In the Bristol area there are approximately 1400 people living with HIV who are accessing care at Southmead Hospital, there is a prevalence of 2.7 per 1000 and we have around 50 new diagnoses every year. We are also very blessed to have amazing services – from the care people living with HIV receive at Southmead Hospital, the testing options provided by Unity Sexual Health and the Terrence Higgins Trust, to the health and well-being support provided by Brigstowe. There are also a large group of passionate and vocal activists who continue to empower those living with HIV and impact the conversation surrounding HIV in Bristol.

Here at City Hall we are proud to support this special time of year and have lots going on. We will fly the Red Ribbon Flag until World AIDS Day. Brigstowe and the Terrence Higgins Trust are also coming into City Hall to promote their services and offer rapid testing.

On Saturday 30th November at an event in the Watershed, the Mayor will be signing the declaration for Bristol to become a Fast Track City. This is a global initiative which aims to improve the local response to HIV & AIDS by achieving the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) 90-90-90 targets by 2020. This is an important step in our mission to stop deaths related to HIV and AIDS, end new infections, and eliminate stigma for people living with HIV in our city.

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