Tackling HIV stigma and discrimination this World AIDS Day

On Wednesday 28th November we held a World AIDS Day Parliamentary Reception, ‘Improving Quality of Life for People Living with HIV’.

The reception was jointly hosted by STOPAIDS, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, and the APPG on HIV/AIDS as part of ENDAIDS2030 Festival, a week long series of events to mark the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day by raising public awareness of HIV and uniting the domestic and international HIV sectors in the goal of ending AIDS by 2030.

Speakers included the Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP, Minister of State for the Department for International Development, and Festus Mogae, former President of Botswana and Chairman of the Champions for an AIDS Free Generation. Alistair Burt said:

“World AIDS Day is an important reminder that stigma and discrimination continue to fuel the epidemic, preventing people from accessing the vital treatment they need. I am proud the UK is a global leader on HIV prevention, treatment and care and earlier this year we provided a further £6m of UK aid to increase access to life-saving services for vulnerable people through the Robert Carr Fund. We are committed to ending AIDS by 2030.”

Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP and Stiggy, © STOPAIDS

We also had a very special guest – The Martin Fisher Foundation’s ‘Stiggy the StigmaSaur’, highlighting the imperative of addressing the stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV, which continues to act as a barrier to people getting tested and accessing life-saving treatment. Stiggy demonstrated that like dinosaurs, HIV stigma should be extinct!

Speaker, Audrey Nosenga, a leading HIV campaigner from Zimbabwe Young Positives (ZY+) spoke on the importance of peer support to ensuring quality of life for young people living with HIV. She discussed the importance of addressing quality of life for people living with HIV across the full treatment cascade:

“People living with HIV should have access to a full spectrum of prevention treatment and also care options, as well as comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services that are tailored to the needs of the individuals. Therefore quality of care should not be linked to treatment targets and viral suppression. Instead it should be embedded across the whole continuum of prevention, treatment, testing and care.”

Audrey Nosenga and Stephen Doughty MP, © STOPAIDS

The International HIV/AIDS Alliance also launched a briefing entitled Quality of life for people living with HIV: what is it, why does it matter and how we can make it happen? which outlines why quality of life for people living with HIV is essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Other speakers at the reception included Dianne Stewart from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, who spoke on the Global Fund’s role in ensuring quality of life and Dr Melanie Abas, an academic from King’s College London who focused on the integration of mental health and HIV programming. Speeches were chaired by Stephen Doughty MP, Chair of the APPG on HIV/AIDS.

Download the International HIV/AIDS Alliance briefing ‘Quality of life for people living with HIV: what is it, why does it matter and how we can make it happen?’.

See more photos from the reception below.