We are HIV positive. Positive in the sense that we actively campaign to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS and to prevent discrimination against those who are infected. We are part of a huge national network of 34 societies across the UK, all of whom work towards the vision of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support . Whilst “FREE CONDOMS” may have been the sign that first got people’s attention to join the society at the Fresher’s Fair, we now have an amazing team with many new members. We’ve had an incredibly successful start to our campaigning year, but of course still have a great deal more to do.
The first major event for the society was The Stop AIDS Speaker Tour, which came to the Manchester Academy on 10th October. Here we had two HIV positive speakers: Mo from the Gambia and Lea from the UK, who shared their stories of living a life with HIV. Both speakers gave a moving insight into the difficulties of living with the virus, but also how they overcame these. Mo’s experiences empowered him to advocate for social justice and for better medicine availability in sub-Sahara Africa . Lea now takes part in any campaign that will make people aware of the risks of unprotected sex. The positive nature of both speakers was really inspirational, and is at the heart of what our “We are HIV Positive” slogan is about. After the talk, the speakers joined our society for food and drinks on the curry mile. This gave us the chance to talk further with the speakers but also was great for getting to know everyone in the society better.
Part of our work involves collaborating with the Upendo Society. The Upendo Society supports the Upendo Orphanage in Tanzania, which homes and helps educate children who are orphans as a result of HIV and AIDs. Every summer members for the Upendo Society and Stop AIDS have the opportunity to go over to Tanzania for the summer and help further to support the orphanage.
2011 has been a vital year for fighting AIDS and HIV. UNAIDS has developed an in-depth model called ‘The Investment Framework,’ which shows that by scaling up the programme activities that we know work we could see an end to children being born with HIV by 2015, save an extra 7 million lives and prevent 12 million new infections by 2020. ‘The Investment Framework’ shows that in less than a decade the amount spent combating HIV and AIDS could be continually reduced, as the pandemic fades. The implementation of ‘The Investment Framework’ is one of our main campaigns. It makes sense ethically and financially, so now we need to convince David Cameron to back it.
30 years ago this year the first diagnosis of HIV was made. Hopefully with the Stop AIDS Society’s Campaign for universal treatment and prevention, by HIV’s 40th anniversary, the virus will have faded significantly. Let’s make the 30th year of the AIDS epidemic the year we start writing its final chapter.
Everyone is welcome to join our society and we have a vast range of things you can get involved in. If you are interested in joining or wish to come to one of our events check out the ‘Stop AIDS Society Manchester’ Facebook page.