Events have been held around the country to mark World AIDS Day 2016.
Community gatherings were held in Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh to show solidarity with the organisations working hard to support those living with HIV and AIDS, but also to remember those we have lost.
In Edinburgh, Waverley Care held a community gathering at Broughton St Mary’s Parish Church, where a poignant and emotional service was held. An evening of poetry and personal reflection was arranged, with the names of those lost read out by friends and family members. In an uplifting and beautiful arrangement, the Loud & Proud Choir offered songs which were comforting to those attending. They were joined by the Tartan Ribbon Choir and a number of speakers who paid tribute to those sadly missed, but also offered words of hope for those living with HIV today.
The sexual health charity, Terence Higgins Trust Scotland, arranged an event at their HQ in Glasgow and were joined by many community members and the Provost of Glasgow, Sadie Docherty.
Speakers included some of those living with HIV in the city, who explained the challenges they face but also some of the inspirational work they do as volunteers supporting the charity reach out in the community.
THT Scotland operate the only free self-test HIV postal service in the UK in an effort to increase the number of people who are aware of their HIV status. It’s estimated that almost a quarter of people who have HIV don’t know they have the virus. Figures suggest that around 1,600 people are living with HIV in the Glasgow area and over 5,000 in Scotland.
Aberdeen hosted a remembrance service organised by the 4 Pillars group in the city. The Reverend Scott Rennie led the evening at Queens Cross Church in the city where the community came together to remember those lost in the fight against HIV and AIDS. During the event, local volunteer and event organiser, Martin Spence talked openly about his diagnosis with HIV and how he now supports others living with the condition. He also talked about finding love and why it’s important that people who are HIV-positive have hope.
Elsewhere, Dundee’s City Chambers played host to the sold-out service of remembrance organised by Terence Higgins Trust. In Kirkcaldy, NHS Sexual Health Fife had a stall to promote HIV awareness and displayed their AIDS blanket as a tribute to those who have died from the illness.
Earlier in the week, HIV Scotland had been active at Holyrood, supporting MSP’s as they debated World AIDS Day in the Scottish Parliament, with most MSP’s proudly displaying the universal symbol – the red ribbon. First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, released a video message talking of her determination to tackle HIV stigma, which you can watch here:
World AIDS Day was first marked in Scotland in 1988 and although treatment has come a very long way since then, the stigma surrounding HIV still exists. Most people living with the condition live happy and healthy lives, made possible by some amazing advances in medication.
For the past few years, Scotland’s landmarks have been lighting up red on World AIDS Day and 2016 was no exception. From Glasgow’s iconic SSE Hydro to Edinburgh Castle, Aberdeen’s Marischal College to the famous Kelpie’s, they were all glowing red in remembrance. Buildings at Abertay University and the Teviot in Edinburgh were specially lit, as were the RBS Headquarters in St Andrew Square and Clydesdale Bank in Glasgow. Buildings along Edinburgh’s Princes Street joined the day too, with Debenhams and Jenners given a red make-over as well as the National Gallery. The monolithic Scottish Government building St Andrew’s House was also given the red colour treatment for the evening.
You can see a selection of the pictures, from a number of sources, in the Gallery below.