What does World AIDS Day mean to you?
To mark World AIDS Day 2016 we asked friends of Emerald Life what the annual event means to them, and what they will be doing to mark the occasion. With contributions from GayStarNews, Positive East, OutOfOffice.com, BOYZ Magazine and others, we were moved by the responses and unified by our common hope that one day HIV and AIDS will be no more.
In memory of the 35 million people who have died from AIDS to date, we wear our red ribbons today.
Heidi McCormack, CEO of Emerald Life
“World AIDS Day starts with remembering people we love who are no longer here and of the long road over more than three decades to fight prejudice and stigma, and support advances in treatment. And yet, even with all the progress which has been made, we are still facing the highest ever number of people living with HIV. Much remains to be done to educate and advocate.’ @Heidiemerald
Ian Montgomery, Trust and Foundation Manager at Positive East
“World AIDS Day to me is synonymous with solidarity. It’s a day where those living with, and affected by, HIV share a collective sense of hope and remembrance. A day where I feel joined together globally by a shared sense of history and feel galvanised to fight present challenges.” @PositiveEast
Darren Burn, CEO of OutOfOffice.com
‘World AIDS Day gives the LGBT community a chance to reflect but also to celebrate the progress we’ve made worldwide in both awareness, education and treatment options. But there’s still a long way to go in order to eradicate stigma. Every person infected is one person too many and we should not become complacent or give up the fight until the day that HIV and AIDS are no longer words in our vocabulary.’ @dazburn
Deborah Gold, CEO National AIDS Trust
‘World AIDS Day is an important day for me. It’s a chance to reflect on where we’ve come from, remember friends that I and others lost along the way, and recognise the amazing progress we have made. At the same time, it focuses my attention on the breadth and depth of the challenge ahead if we are going to end the HIV epidemic, and ensure that those living with HIV have the treatment, care and support they need to have the best possible lives, unencumbered by stigma.’ @deborahagold
David Hudson, Deputy Editor at GayStarNews
“Thirty-five years after the first reported deaths from AIDS, World AIDS Day continue to prompt mixed feelings in me. It makes me think about how far we’ve come, and the tremendous advances we have made in treatment – both in transmission prevention and treatment. But it also makes me think of the many who didn’t live to see these advances, and also the challenges that remain – combatting ignorance and stigma towards those with HIV remaining chief among them.” @Davidhudson_UK
Matt Cain, Writer and Journalist
“I’m from a generation that was instilled with a terror of catching HIV/AIDS but this didn’t stop me taking risks with some of my own behaviour in my youth. I was one of the lucky ones but I always feel angry when people judge those who were less lucky than me. It’s these people I think about on World AIDS Day and I think about them with respect, compassion and admiration.”@MattCainWriter
‘It’s a day to talk about HIV by reflecting on the past and discussing the status quo. Firstly, to commemorate those who lost their lives to the disease and show solidarity for those who grieve their loss. Secondly, by openly communicating about HIV, raising awareness and further educating people in order to combat the stigma and reduce the discrimination felt for many with the condition. World AIDS day is also an opportunity to reiterate to the wider population on the need to protect themselves and get tested.’ @Boucle_d_or
Luke Till, Editor for BOYZ Magazine
“For me, World AIDS Day gives us the opportunity to remember the friends, brothers, sons and partners that were lost so tragically to the illness over the 1980s and first half of the 90s – without them trailing drugs in their final days we wouldn’t have the incredible treatment people living with HIV have access to today. It’s also about educating the current and future generations of society to encourage them to take care of their own sexual health” @MrLukeTill
Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett, Chair of LGBT Liberal Democrats
“World AIDS Day is always a reflective day for me every year. It’s a day which reminds me of friends lost, my own fragile life and how I can ensure that generations to come avoid some of the hurdles which I’ve endured. Whether to fundraise, to speak to young people or to campaign on the variety of issues in order to decrease diagnosis’s and for me to give back to society because society has given me the opportunity to continue to live a healthy life.” @Juvelad