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Wednesday, 1 December 2010

World AIDS Day - Guest post from Edinburgh Waverley Care

Today is World AIDS Day. The internationally recognised day when we remember those we have lost to AIDS over the years, raise awareness of HIV and work to fight HIV prejudice.

This year’s World AIDS Day theme is ‘Act Aware’ and encourages people to take action to tackle HIV prejudice and to protect themselves and others from HIV transmission.

33.4 million people are living with HIV worldwide, 83, 000 of whom are in the UK. 5,500 people are living with the condition in Scotland and approximately a quarter of these people are undiagnosed and therefore unaware of their HIV status. Those that do know they are HIV positive face the daily challenge of HIV stigma.

HIV stigma is often the result of ignorance about how HIV is transmitted, judgements being made about infection routes, a lack of understanding of what it’s like to live with HIV, or an unfounded fear of becoming infected.

Stigma or prejudice about HIV in society means that people living with HIV keep the burden of their secret and, feel judged and ashamed. This damages their self-confidence and self esteem. In essence, it causes misery and hinders people from living a normal life.

Here at Waverley Care we offer a safe and confidential space to people living with, and affected by, HIV. We are here to help people fight and recover from the implications of that Stigma and our services operate nationally in Scotland from offices in Edinburgh, Coatbridge in Lanarkshire, Glasgow and Inverness.

We offer a wide range of groups and services that support anyone living with HIV and these projects include specific groups for Africans, Children and Young People, Gay Men and Women. Our services support people with issues which include physical and emotional health, meeting other people living with HIV, coping with a new diagnosis, supporting family members and training and employment.

HIV may not be making the headlines in Scotland as it used to but it is still here and until we beat the stigma surrounding HIV, until we make it okay to talk about HIV, and make people aware that HIV does not discriminate, we will not be able to beat HIV.

This World AIDS Day help us raise awareness and fight stigma. Add a Twibbon to your Twitter or Facebook profile and show your support for Waverley Care and World AIDS Day.

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