World AIDS Day has been a global phenomenon since 1988 and is held on 1st December each year. It aims to unite people worldwide in order to fight against HIV, promote awareness and testing for STDs, show support for those suffering with HIV and commemorate those that have been lost to the virus.
An estimated 33.3million people globally are suffering from HIV, making it one of the most serious pandemics today. Despite a major advance in knowledge of HIV treatment and laws for protection, few actually fully understand how to protect themselves from the condition. Discrimination largely remains a negative impact of the virus for those who have HIV and World AIDS day aims to change this through unity and support. Another major aim of the health awareness day is to remind the public and government that HIV is still present in all societies worldwide.
Some key facts about HIV from the National AIDS Trust:
- There are now more than 90,000 living with HIV in the UK — more than 90,000 — with around a quarter of those unaware that they have the virus.
- Over 90% of people with HIV were infected through sexual contact
- You can now get tested for HIV using a saliva sample, but HIV is not passed on through spitting, biting or sharing utensils
- Only 1% of babies born to HIV positive mothers have HIV
- There is no vaccine and no cure for HIV
St Andrews students are putting knowledge into action! You may see folk wearing the symbolic ‘red ribbon’ (which was the first ribbon, later inspiring the pink ribbon for Cancer research) to support international HIV awareness.
Students from various humanitarian societies, including Medsin, Oxfam and Amnesty International are working together to promote HIV/Aids awareness through several events over the course of November leading up to World Aids Day. On the week leading up to 1st December, they will also be selling the red ribbons on the streets of St Andrews: be sure to buy yours to signify 25 years of tackling HIV in the UK!
Free introductory lecture
Tuesday 13th November, 5pm, Seminar Room 1 in the Medical School
Dr Winnie Dhaliwal will be giving an introductory lecture about HIV/AIDs. She will be covering what the HIV virus actually is and how it infects, the difference between HIV and AIDs, the prevalence of HIV/AIDs around the world. She will also be talking about where we are in terms of developing a vaccine.
The pharmaceutical industry and the AIDS epidemic
Tuesday 20th November, 5pm, Medical School
Professor Anthony Butler will be talking about the ethics of the pharmaceutical industry and Big Pharma’s reaction to the AIDS epidemic. He will also be discussing the logistics of getting drugs to developing countries, and how they are then distributed. Afterwards, he will hopefully be holding a discussion session in the cafe.
The Terrence Higgins Trust presentation
Tuesday 27th November, 5pm, Medical School
The Terrence Higgins Trust is a support charity who envision “a world where people with HIV live healthy lives free from prejudice and discrimination, and good sexual health is a right and reality for all.” We are looking forward to hosting both a representative from the Trust, and someone with HIV who has benefited from their support, to shed light on the problems faced by people living with HIV in the UK today.
Amnesty International letter writing
Wednesday 28th November
PJ Day and petition-signing
Friday 30th November
Selling ribbons around St Andrews: volunteers needed!
26th November – 1st December