World AIDS Day with Annie Gainsborough Author: GUEST POST     
Date: 26th January 2018

Today is World AIDS Day, a day I’ve been lucky enough not to take much notice of before. But for a few reasons this year I am honouring it.

Since starting work at Birmingham’s John Taylor Hospice in August, I’ve seen colleagues educating each other against the tide of the still present stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS-related illnesses. James Stevenson writes in the Guardian today that elsewhere he has seen medical ‘staff put on two pairs of gloves when dealing with [HIV positive] patients’ and has ‘even witnessed…staff put on gloves just to handle the paper notes of those with HIV.’ It is scary that these myths, even today, will influence the behaviour even of healthcare professionals. 

But my colleagues are right, the way we end this ignorance, discrimination and fear is through education. HIV cannot be transmitted through touch, or via air or water, and as I learned from Eleonor Covell at Terence Higgins Trust on Twitter today, people on effective HIV medication can’t even pass it to sexual partners. We need inclusive Sex Education in schools, and we need to keep the conversation going about HIV beyond World AIDS day.

This evening, I will be singing with Rainbow Voices, a Birmingham LGBT choir, at the World AIDS Day vigil outside Birmingham Cathedral. But it is not just gay men who suffer from HIV – the disease does not discriminate. And so our community will be singing in solidarity with anyone living with HIV today, of those who have died unnecessarily from an AIDS-related condition, for the life-enhancing medical advances we are seeing today, to fight the stigma, and to stand together with communities across world to say #LetsEndIt to HIV and AIDS. 

“Sing, oh sing a song of joy and peace.
 Sing a song of love and joy and peace.
 Sing, oh sing a song of joy and peace. 
Sing a song of love and joy and peace.
 Sing, sing, sing out loud
Sing, sing strong and proud.”


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