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First HIV awareness ad in 40 years to air in Scotland hoping to ‘challenge stigma’

It leads with the message that “Stigma is more harmful than HIV”

By Charlotte Manning

HIV ad
A new advert from the Terrence Higgins Trust will air in Scotland (Image: Terrence Higgins Trust)

A new advert to help “challenge the stigma still surrounding HIV” will air for the first time tonight on Scottish TV channel, STV. 

Being broadcast as part of a wider campaign from the Terrence Higgins Trust, it will hope to send the message that: “Stigma is more harmful than HIV.”

The film has been made with the help of Scottish Government funded research from YouGov into attitudes and beliefs about HIV in Scotland. 

“The government’s AIDS awareness advert in the 1980s undoubtedly saved lives, but it also cast a long shadow by terrifying a generation about HIV,” Richard Angell, chief executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, said.

“People living with HIV in Scotland still continue to live with that stigma which impacts on their lives”

It will air for the first time tonight (Monday, 16 October) at 7.58pm on STV, just before Coronation Street. 

The TV ad will go alongside a wider campaign across billboards, newspapers and online.

He went on: “Our new film is based on the direct experiences of people living with HIV in Scotland who shared how much of a challenge the stigma still surrounding HIV is in their day-to-day lives.

“Alongside all the good news about HIV today, we knew we had to show how devastating HIV-related stigma can be for those directly impacted.“

Angell added: “I hope millions will see our advert in the weeks ahead and be motivated to learn the facts and ditch the fiction about HIV.”

Jenni Minto, Public Health Minister for Scottish Government, noted how the prognosis for HIV has massively changed. 

She said: “Forty years ago, an HIV diagnosis was regarded as a death sentence – today people with the virus are able to live long, happy and healthy lives thanks to effective treatment. 

“I have often heard that the alarming and intentionally fear-driven campaigns of the 1980s have left a damaging legacy of stereotypes and misconceptions. And people living with HIV in Scotland still continue to live with that stigma which impacts on their lives.

“This campaign addresses that and reflects a commitment we gave last year to fund a marketing campaign to reduce the stigma that makes some people less likely to access HIV prevention, testing and treatment services.

“This will play an important role in achieving our commitment to eliminate new transmissions of HIV in Scotland by 2030.”