Green Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty will join campaigners, charities, friends and family today (Dec 1st) in commemorating the lives lost to HIV/AIDS in Brighton & Hove, as part of a programme of events to mark World AIDS Day.
The candlelit vigil, organised by Terence Higgins trust South, will take place in new Steine Gardens at 6pm and will feature a reading of the names of local lives lost to HIV/AIDS.
Brighton has the highest prevalence of HIV in the United Kingdom outside of London, and last year saw a rise in the number of people with the infection in the city. Every December 1 the community comes together to put on events which raise money for HIV/AIDS related causes, and which commemorate those who have lost their lives because of HIV/AIDS.
Councillor McCafferty, convener of the Green group in Brighton and Hove City Council, said:
“I’m deeply moved to be a part of this event and pleased that I can make some kind of contribution in the fight against HIV/AIDS. It’s so important that we remember those who are no longer with us, and support those who are still living with and fighting against HIV/AIDS. Reading the names of lives lost is an incredibly humbling experience, and I hope in some way pays tribute to the amazing people who we have lost.
“The fight against HIV/AIDS has come a long way, with treatments now available which mean many people with HIV are living longer and healthier lives. But much remains to be done. Regular HIV tests are important for anyone who is sexually active, as 1 in 6 people with HIV don’t know they have it. There’s still a huge stigma and a number of myths associated with HIV/AIDS which hamper effective treatment, and globally there are still challenges in providing equal access to treatments.
“It is still critical to support the organisations who provide advice, treatment and education for people living with HIV/AIDS, and World Aids Day helps to raise essential funds needed to ensure this vital work can continue. We all have a part to play in tackling the ongoing rise of HIV in the city”
Green Councillor Alex Phillips, ward councillor for Regency ward, said:
“Greens are firmly committed to the fight against HIV/AIDS, through provision of free and impartial information and advice on safe sex and prevention, while ensuring that effective treatments are available to all.
“We are campaigning to help make prevention medication called Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) freely available from the NHS, so that those people who are most at risk of contracting HIV can take a drug to stop them from becoming HIV positive. This drug, which is free in places like San Francisco has seen the number of people diagnosed with HIV plummet, and if accompanied by extensive education and promotion of safe sex, would change the face of this epidemic.