Pride in London 2023 is poised to become an even more impactful and inclusive event this year. Fast-Track Cities London takes the stage with a coalition of key partners including the People First Charter founded by Dr Laura Waters.
The aim of our float is to highlight HIV and the importance of testing and treatment. This is so we can increase people’s knowledge and understanding of HIV and reduce the stigma and discrimination experienced by people living with HIV.
In London, 80% of Londoners do not know that people on HIV treatment cannot pass it on. Their knowledge is based on outdated ideas which causes unnecessary stigma and discrimination. Tackling stigma and discrimination is a key priority for Fast-Track Cities London and all our partners over the coming year. Getting to zero stigma by 2030 is a London wide ambition.
Professor Jane Anderson CBE, Consultant Physician in HIV Medicine at Homerton University Hospital and Barts Health NHS Trust, and co-chair of London’s Fast-Track Cities HIV initiative said: “Even after 40 years of HIV, we still have a big problem with the public’s knowledge and attitudes. Depressingly, many people still do not know about HIV, are confused by how it’s passed on and are unaware that people taking effective HIV treatment cannot pass on the virus. People do not think enough about their sexual health, which means they are not testing regularly for HIV. Sadly, many people have deeply entrenched stigmatising views about HIV either because they do not know enough about HIV or for reasons that link to sexual orientation, gender or race.”
Why tackle stigma?
2021’s joint national survey HIV: Public knowledge and attitudes from Fast-Track Cities London and National AIDS Trust found many examples of outdated and incorrect views. These contribute towards stigma faced by people living with HIV:
- Only 1 in 5 people in London know that people on effective HIV treatment can’t pass it on
- 83 per cent agree people with HIV often face negative judgement from others in society
- Most of the public said they would be uncomfortable having a sexual relationship with someone living with HIV
People First Charter
The People First Charter launched in July 2021, during the Berlin International AIDS Society Conference, to promote person first HIV and sexual health language. Language matters. People living with or at risk of HIV experience stigma and discrimination and the wrong language perpetuates this.
Dr Laura Waters, founder of the People First Charter said: “Stigmatising language is one of the drivers of HIV-related stigma and discrimination. It is our mission to end such language, starting with scientific conferences, journals and national policies. No person is “HIV-infected” they are living with HIV!”
Matthew Hodson, Executive Director aidsmap said: “The ability to treat HIV effectively must be celebrated. Sadly, the stigma that many of us who live with HIV face has not kept step. Stigma creates barriers to HIV testing and treatment, hampering our ability to end new infections, and it remains an emotional burden for many. We can tackle stigma by challenging prejudice and ignorance at every opportunity. We need to build a society where those of us who live with HIV are able to be open about our status, without fear or shame or the threat of blackmail or violence. Considering the powerful history of LGBTQ activists in the struggle to combat HIV, it’s fitting that HIV organisations are joining together at Pride this year, proclaiming the need to #FightHIVstigma.”
Our language should match our goals: to ensure all people living with at risk of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are supported to enjoy the highest attainable standards of health, as is their fundamental human right.
Find out more
Follow our journey at Pride this year on our social media accounts.
Read more about our work to tackle stigma here.