A north-east LGBT+ charity is holding an interactive online event to pay tribute to those that have lost their lives to AIDS, and to show support to people who are currently living with HIV.
Four Pillars, which supports the LGBT+ community in the Grampian area by offering information and support on a person-to-person basis, is hosting a virtual World AIDS Day concert tonight with performers from all over the world.
As well as entertainment, various hosts will be sharing myth-busting facts, information and personal stories from people living with HIV to tackle stigma and raise awareness about “modern HIV”.
The charity’s founder, Deejay Bullock, said ending stigma and preventing more from getting the virus can only be achieved by helping people understand the facts about the condition and effective treatment.
He said: “We are trying to reach out to people who wouldn’t have normally interacted with World AIDS Day.
“It’s become more and more apparent over the last few years that stigma is still extremely high and we need to break down the myths, make people forget the bad messages that were put out in the 80s and the 90s and educate as many as possible that HIV has changed a lot.”
Modern HIV medication allows people living with the virus to live a long and healthy life.
Those on successful treatment also become “undetectable”, which means that the level of the virus in their blood is so low, that they cannot pass it onto others either.
“The more people that know that HIV is a life-long condition, the more people will get tested and the quicker we can end the epidemic that has taken so many lives,” Mr Bullock added.
“It’s important that we remember those who have died of the epidemic, because medication wasn’t as advanced as it is now, though unfortunately we still see people getting late diagnoses because of the stigma that prevents them from going and getting tested.
“But we have to also be thankful that medication has come such a long way and that someone like myself, who is living with HIV, can have a long and normal life.
“World AIDS Day is about remembering those we’ve lost, but also being thankful for where we are today.”
The WAD concert starts at 5pm today and everybody is invited to join on