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World AIDS Day events highlight ongoing HIV stigma

27 November 2009

Group of people standing in formation to make World AIDS Day ribbon shape© InfoVolunteers are organising events in schools and universities across the UK this week to mark World AIDS Day on Tuesday 1 December.

The British Red Cross also commissioned a survey of 16-25-year-olds in the UK for World AIDS Day, which showed worrying levels of stigma around people living with HIV and AIDS, despite good knowledge about safety and transmission. For example, it showed that 85 per cent of those surveyed know you cannot catch HIV from a kiss. Despite this, 69 per cent still wouldn't kiss someone with HIV.

To try and get young people to examine their own responses to people with HIV, the Red Cross produced a video starring Konnie Huq asking the question: if Konnie had HIV, what would it take for you to kiss her?

Konnie said: “Knowing you can’t catch HIV from kissing is one thing but when young people were asked if this was something they would actually do – the majority still said no. The video is a light-hearted way of challenging some of the negative assumptions people hold and hopefully forcing them to re-think.”

World AIDS Day events

Across the country this week, British Red Cross peer educators and school speakers will be visiting schools talking to pupils and running workshops about HIV, stigma and discrimination.

Peer educator Fergus Carter-Brazier said: “When teaching other young people, you build a relationship where the audience trusts you and sees you as a role model. When young people see that other young people are alright about the subject of HIV and AIDS, then they will shortly follow.”

As well as school visits and workshops, there are several other World AIDS Day activities and events taking place. For example, the Red Cross’ youth team in Scotland has produced a video about a project linking young people from Scotland and Nepal to learn more about HIV, its effect on people and communities, and the effect of stigma and discrimination.

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