This World AIDS Day, together we can remember the millions of lives lost to HIV.
Many of those who died from AIDS-related illnesses in the early days of the epidemic were deliberately forgotten due to the stigma and discrimination that was rife at the time. That’s why on World AIDS Day, and every day, it’s so vital to pay tribute and give thanks to those who came before us. The progress we’ve made in the fight against HIV wouldn’t be possible without their contributions.
It’s also a time to remember our namesake, Terry Higgins. He was one of the very first in the UK to die of an AIDS-related illness back in 1982. By naming the trust after Terry, the founder members – his partner and friends – hoped to personalise and humanise HIV and AIDS in a very public way. Everything we do is in his name – including shouting about all the progress in the fight against HIV since the 1980s. Earlier this year, millions of us watched It’s A Sin, reliving the devastation of the AIDS crisis and for the younger generation, learning what the epidemic was like for the first time. The series looks at time in our history we must never forget.
Thankfully, HIV has changed so much since then. I was diagnosed with HIV in 1996 and told I had just eight years to live – 25 years later and I’m still here. I take one pill a day, can expect to live just as long as anyone else and can’t pass HIV on to my husband.
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PrEP, a tablet taken by HIV negative people before and after sex that greatly reduces the risk of getting HIV, is now available for free in England from sexual health clinics. The first long-acting injectable treatment option for people living with HIV has just been approved for use In England in Wales.
The progress we've made would have been unimaginable 40 years ago – I wish Terry and all the others lost before could’ve lived to see it.
On World AIDS Day, we are looking to the future as we work towards ending new cases of HIV by 2030 – it’s an ambitious but achievable goal. We have a lot of work left to do – every week 80 people in the UK receive a life-changing HIV diagnosis and many people living with HIV continue to experience poor mental health, stigma and discrimination. It’s clear that public awareness about HIV hasn't caught up with medical advancements.
In order to make history and transform the future for everyone by ending HIV transmissions, we need to see an ambitious plan and funding from the UK Government. Tackling HIV stigma also needs to be a priority – everyone needs to play their part through shouting about the advancements we’ve made in the fight against HIV and challenging misinformation about the virus.
Donate today to fund our vital work to end new transmissions within the decade. This once-in-a-generation opportunity won’t wait.