HIV charity launches conference to help people in Lanarkshire see beyond stigma
In response to the high level of stigma that persists around HIV and hepatitis in Scotland, HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland has announced a free conference in Lanarkshire set up to help people see beyond their perception of blood borne viruses.
The See Beyond conference will take place on Wednesday 30th January at Hamilton Town House. Funded by NHS Lanarkshire, it will involve a series of talks and discussions on the reality of living with HIV and hepatitis, and how people across Lanarkshire can play a part in reducing stigma and discrimination around the conditions.
The opening plenary will be delivered by Dr Nicola Steedman, Senior Medical Officer at the Scottish Government. Other speakers will include representatives from NHS Lanarkshire, Glasgow Caledonian University and South Lanarkshire Council, as well as local people who are living with HIV or hepatitis. Sessions will be chaired by journalist and broadcaster Lesley Riddoch.
In 2009, a UK-wide 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.
Robert McKay, National Director for Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, said: “Blood borne viruses like hepatitis and HIV remain surrounded by a level of stigma unmatched by any other medical condition. All are welcome to attend this conference, which we hope will help people in Lanarkshire gain a greater understanding of the conditions, and support them to combat stigma among their own social networks.”
Dr John Logan, Consultant in Public Health Medicine for NHS Lanarkshire, said: “There is still a lot of stigma in society associated with having a blood borne virus infection such as HIV, hepatitis C or hepatitis B. People with these infections, and sometimes their carers, can face discrimination and exclusion, which can put people off coming forward for testing and diagnosis of these infections, which then leads on to effective treatment, care and support. The See Beyond conference will explore the causes of stigma and consider actions that can be taken to reduce stigma and discrimination”
See Beyond will take place from 9.30am – 3.45pm on Wednesday 30th January. The venue is Hamilton Town House, 102 Cadzow Street, Hamilton ML3 6HH. The conference is free to attend and lunch will be provided. For further information, or to register for the event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.