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So much has changed about HIV: But not the stigma – Activists speak out on World Aids Day 2019

"The thing that hasn't changed is the stigma."

By Steve Brown

Today (December 1) marks World Aids Day and although the virus is being less and less considered as a death sentence, the stigma around HIV/Aids is still rife in both the LGBTQ community and others.

However, HIV affects people of all sexual orientations and genders – and with the right treatment, which must be taken daily and forever, it is possible to live a long life.

In our new video, Attitude sits down with a number of well-known HIV activists – including Rebecca de Havilland, Ian Green from the Terrence Higgins Trust, and Reverend Jide Macaulay – about living with the virus and what can be done to stop the stigma around HIV.

The video also speaks to Jonathon Blake, whose story was made famous by the film Pride, as a founding member of LGSM. Though it’s impossible to say for sure, he is one of the first people to be officially diagnosed in London, UK with HIV in October 1982.

Over the last four decades, so much about HIV has changed. But the stigma surrounding the virus hasn’t. It’s time to challenge that and make sure everyone understands if you are undetectable, you can’t pass it on.

For #WorldAidsDay we partnered with Terrence Higgins Trust to ask whether, with stars like Gareth Thomas coming out, we are reaching a watershed moment for talking about HIV?

Speaking about the collaboration, Liam Beattie from THT says:

“For the past four decades, LGBTQ people have been at the forefront of HIV activism; challenging misinformation and demanding progress. Working with Attitude to celebrate the huge advances in HIV through the stories of four people living with HIV, will take us a big step forward in ending HIV stigma.”

Gareth Thomas won the icon award at this year’s Virgin Atlantic #AttitudeAwards where he gave a tearful speech about being forced to come out about his status.

The former Welsh rugby captain, who came out as gay a decade ago, found his personal life thrust back into the spotlight last month when he was forced to disclose his HIV status after being blackmailed by a British tabloid.

After announcing that he was healthy, happy and living with HIV in a public statement, leading HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust revealed they had seen a high number of visitors to their website as members of the public sought to educate themselves about the fact that being undetectable means the virus is untransmittable – proof, if any were needed, in the power of Gareth’s words.

Dubbed “courageous” and a “legend” by Prince William and Prince Harry, Gareth tells the Attitude Awards issue – available to download and to order globally now – that he has been “overwhelmed” by the outpouring of public support.

“I feel so humbled and I am so grateful to everyone out there who has supported me”, Gareth says.