These are some of the stories made public by the Birmingham centre of HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust, in a bid to raise awareness of the unacceptably high level of stigma that persists around the condition locally. The centre is calling on people across the city to sign up for its World AIDS Day (December 1st) campaign Stand Up, Stand Out, and raise funds to combat HIV-related stigma locally.
In 2009, a national study¹ reported that over a third of people with HIV had experienced discrimination in the previous year, whether from members of their own community, from doctors or other healthcare professionals, or even from other family members. Fear of discrimination can have a profound effect on individuals, preventing them from being open about their condition, and inhibiting the open discussion needed to challenge society’s lack of understanding about HIV.
Mick Mason, Regional Manager for Terrence Higgins Trust in the Midlands, said: “Thirty years on from the beginning of the epidemic, HIV remains surrounded by a level of stigma unmatched by any other medical condition. All over the country, our centres come into contact with people who have been routinely discriminated against, hounded from the workplace, barred from venues and services, disowned by their families, attacked and sometimes seriously hurt, all because they have contracted a virus that can be easily controlled with medication. This needs to change.
“We are calling on Birmingham to get behind this year’s World AIDS Day campaign, and help us make a dent in HIV-related stigma locally. You can be as loud and proud as you like, whether its taking on a sponsored challenge, holding a fundraising event, or just buying a red ribbon to show you care. The funds you raise will help us spread the message that people with HIV need support, not judgement.”
For further information on Stand Up, Stand Out, please visit www.tht.org.uk/worldaidsday . To get involved locally, please contact Terrence Higgins Trust in Birmingham on (0121) 694 6440, or email email@example.com.