Supporting World Aids Day
I joined members of the York LGBT Pride committee today in their fight against HIV. Yesterday marked the 24th year of World AIDS Day, when people show their support for those living with HIV and commemorate people who have died.
More than 90,000 people are currently living with HIV in the UK and globally an estimated 33.3 million people have HIV. More than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007 have died from the virus.
The York LGBT Pride committee handed out free red ribbons, the universal symbol of awareness and support for those living with HIV. The red ribbon was the first ribbon symbol, inspiring later versions such as the pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness. A red ribbon flag flies half mast over the York Minster throughout the memorial week for World AIDS Day, and a memorial tapestry is erected each year inside the building by the charity North Yorkshire AIDS Action. Members of York’s LGBT community will be raising vital funds for the organisation at a charity event this evening.
There have been many scientific advances in the treatment of people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. But we need to remember that HIV has not gone away. It’s important that everyone is aware of it. People are still being infected and everyone needs to know how to protect themselves and others. As well as living with HIV people often have to face stigma and discrimination and education is the only way to fight this prejudice.
Photo: left to right – Hugh Bayley MP, Kathryn Gallon (North Yorkshire Aids Action), Dan Sidley (Chair, York LGBT Pride), Andy Law, Julie Yarrow and Geoff Widdop, supporting World Aids Day, outside York Minster, December 2011