I attended a candlelight vigil outside Wood Green Library to mark World AIDS Day – and very important it is to continue to send out that public statement about AIDS and HIV.
There still exists a stigma around AIDS and HIV and there shouldn’t be. I don’t know why this should still persist today – when we are so much better informed about how the disease is transmitted. It shouldn’t do. We can’t catch it from toilets or shaking hands – in fact – it was one of the really good things Diana Princess of Wales did. She visited an AIDS ward many years ago and shook hands with an AIDS patient – a clip that was shown on newsreels across the world – and in one go said (effectively) if a princess is allowed to shake hands with an AIDS sufferer – then it can’t be catching. And trust – am not a royalist!
The second concern is that since the early days of AIDS when none of us knew that much about it and the campaign to warn us of its dangers was so scary that we virtually crossed our legs and decried sex for the rest of our lives – the infection rate is still alarming today. Particularly when a condom is the answer – ie not complicated.
But without the scariness of the initial unknowns (when we didn’t know how far back we needed to go in terms of having had a sexual partner before we were in the clear) it seems that not everyone takes the appropriate precautions – and the consequence of not taking appropriate precautions – is that you can contract HIV – still today. It hasn’t gone away.
The really good news is that the drugs used these days to combat AIDS and HIV mean that there is no death sentence as used to be the case. These days it’s called living with AIDS – and that’s the point!