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Looking Back: World AIDS Day 2013

7th January 2014

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World AIDS Day 2013 saw organisations and supporters across the world coming together to remember the millions of people who have tragically lost their lives, and to raise awareness and support for the fight against AIDS moving forward. 22 years after a group of New York artists came up with the iconic symbol, the red ribbon once again brought awareness and support for people living with HIV across the globe.

The UK saw a huge variety of exciting events, awareness raising initiatives and people coming together in the fight against AIDS. Some of the highlights included Northern Rail’s ‘Awareness Train’, the world’s largest awareness ribbon (45 metres long!), Kieran Alger’s 31 days of half marathons and the World AIDS Day concert: We All Live Together.

During this time STOPAIDS met with MPs to hear about their commitment to global treatment, with encouraging news, so it really was a progressive weekend for HIV and AIDS awareness.

We caught up with some of the great organisations involved to find out how World AIDS Day went and to find out how you can still get involved moving forward.

AVERT – ‘You, Me and HIV’







Organisations involved: AVERT, The Brighton World AIDS Day Community Partnership, International HIV/AIDS Alliance, Institute of Development Studies

Event: You, Me and HIV

Location: Brighton

About: AVERT is an international HIV and AIDS charity, based in the UK, working to avert HIV and AIDS worldwide

AVERT took Brighton by storm with the world’s largest AIDS awareness ribbon, measuring 45 metres! In conjunction with The Brighton World AIDS Day Community Partnership they unveiled the ribbon with the help of supporters, friends and family. The ‘You, Me and HIV’ event raised awareness and brought together a number of organisations and 150 members of the public. There were speeches from AVERT’s Chief Executive Rosemary Gillespie, the head of the Sussex Student Stop AIDS Society, James Cole, and MP Caroline Lucas.

Rosemary says: “We are making great strides in combating HIV, but there is still more to do to ensure HIV prevention initiatives are reaching those who need them, and that support for the 35 million people currently living with HIV worldwide is sustained.”

Northern Rail – Awareness Train







Organisations involved: Trainbow UK, Northern Rail,

Event: Awareness Train

Location: Nottingham to Leeds

About: Trainbow UK is Northern Rail’s LGBT employee network

To celebrate Wold AIDS Day 2013 Northern Rail, together with Trainbow UK and, ran a specially decorated Awareness Train from Nottingham to Leeds. Red ribbons and goodies were sold on the train and there was a collection for BHA Leeds Skyline which provides a range of support services to people living with HIV in Leeds.  The train left Nottingham at 12.15 with a specially designed red ribbon on the front and arrived into Leeds at 14.18 where a ceremony took place on the over-bridge. The Ceremony featured live music from gayleeds’ Kira Live and included speeches from the Leeds Railway Chaplin, HIV Charities and the director of Network Rail itself.

Thomas Wales, co-Editor of, told us: “Gay Leeds were very proud to work in association with Northern Rail on this project, it was an amazing day and was presented in a natural and public environment which helped break down stereotypes about sexuality and HIV/AIDS.”

The ceremony was followed by a commemorative service at the Double Tree Hotel next to the station where speeches and poems were read.

Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus – World AIDS Day Concert







Organisations involved: Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus (GMC) and Brighton LGBTQ choirs

Event: World AIDS Day concert ‘We All Live Together’

Location: St Mary’s Church, Brighton

About: Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus is a space where people can celebrate music, celebrate their sexuality, enjoy the fellowship of other like-minded people and contribute to the local communities.

Supporters in Brighton enjoyed a fantastic afternoon of music & mulled wine for the ’We All Live Together’ concert featuring, for the first time, all Brighton LGBTQ choirs! Taking part were Actually Gay Men’s Chorus, Actually Gay Women’s Chorus, Brighton Belles Gay Women’s Chorus, Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus, Qukulele, Rainbow Chorus, Resound Male Voices and the children of The Theatre Workshop. All the profits from ticket sales were raised for Lunch Positive, a weekly lunch club for people with HIV in Brighton who support over 100 people, entirely through the efforts of volunteers.

Adam Betteridge from Gay Men’s Chorus told us: “The event wasn’t just about remembering the past but also looking at the present and how we can move on, pulling together as a united front which is reflected by all the music groups that came together.”

The concert was followed by a vigil and reading of names at the AIDS Memorial which was just around the corner from St Mary’s Church.

Sahir House, Liverpool Awareness Campaigns







Organisations involved: Sahir House

Event: Various awareness campaigns

Location: Merseyside

About: Sahir House has been offering HIV support, information and training across Merseyside since 1985 and offers a wide range of services to people living with or affected by HIV

To honour World AIDS Day 2013 Sahir House ran a number of successful awareness campaigns including Liverpool Football Club decorating their goal with red ribbons, projecting a huge red ribbon on the side of Anfield and delivering key messages about HIV testing at during one of their matches. Not settling at that, they featured on three radio stations, presented talks in local schools and held a vigil for over 400 guests. They raised over £1,000 from fundraising collections throughout the city and gave out over 5,000 red ribbons.

STOPAIDS – Parliamentary Panel Discussion







Organisations involved: STOPAIDS, UNAIDS & APPG

Event: Parliamentary Panel Discussion

Location: London

About: STOPAIDS is a network of UK agencies that work together to secure a united global response to HIV and AIDS.

Organised with the All-Party Group on HIV and AIDS to mark 2013 World AIDS Day, the event drew a crowd of over seventy people to listen to representatives from UNAIDS, the Global Fund, the Elton John AIDS Foundation and Restless Development, as well as Emma – a Zimbabwean living with HIV. Lynne Featherstone MP announced a 50% increase in funding for UNAIDS which brings the UK’s global support to £15 million and builds on the Department for International Development’s decision to commit £1 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria over the next three years.

In other activities during the week, STOPAIDS coordinated a lobby of the UK Parliament, briefing over 50 individual MPs and handing out 800 AIDS ribbons to parliamentarians and their staff.

University of East Anglia – Documentary screening







Organisations involved: University of East Anglia, Medical Research Council, Uganda Virus Research Institute

Event: Film screening, The Mango Tree: Living with HIV

Location: Cinema City, Norwich

About: The School of International Development (DEV) at the University of East Anglia is a leading global centre of excellence in research and teaching in international development.

The University of East Anglia held the first public screening of their new documentary, The Mango Tree: Living with HIV at Cinema City, Norwich. The film was developed in partnership with the Medical Research Council and Uganda Virus Research Institute and is about the changing face of HIV in Uganda where 1.4 million people – 7.3% of the population – are living with the virus.

The film tells the story of four people’s journey from sickness back to health, showing that having HIV in Africa is no longer a death sentence due to antiretroviral therapy (ART). They were participants in a study carried out between 2011 and 2013 by Dr Steve Russell, from UEA’s School of International Development, and Prof Janet Seeley, from the School of International Development.

Dr Russel said: “Some people on ART say they have come back from the dead, from being bed-ridden at home to walking proudly in the street. This documentary aims to help people understand the transformative effects of ART for people living with HIV, and the crucial need for on-going funding of the treatment.”

He told us: “There was a good turnout with around 40 people, lots of positive feedback and a third of the ticket sales were donated to the World AIDS Day foundation.”

The screening was followed by a Q&A with the directors where the audience had the opportunity to find out first-hand about the challenges faced in Africa.  You can watch the video here.

Starfish Greathearts Foundation – 31 days, 31 marathons







Organisations involved: Starfish Greathearts Foundation

Event: Marathon

Location: London

About: Starfish Greathearts Foundation is a charity which aims to bring life, hope and opportunity to the children of southern Africa who have been orphaned or made vulnerable by the devastating HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Kieran Alger (running enthusiast and T3 Editor-in-Chief) took on a huge challenge to raise money for the charity and ran 31 half marathons back-to-back every day in December - that’s 406 miles in total!

Kieran kicked off his epic challenge on World AIDS Day running the first half-marathon with Starfish supporters, friends and family. Stephanie Kitson, Community Fundraising Officer for Starfish told us: “There was a great turn out with around 20 runners there for support; one student travelled from Bedford to support Starfish and run her first ever half marathon with Kieran. The support gave Kieran the boost he needed to get the challenge underway.”

Kieran was motivated to take on the challenge after seeing, first hand, the poverty suffered by many children in South Africa. That visit became the inspiration for this challenge. As his final step on the road from marathon man to ultra runner, he covered half marathon distance every day in December. Thirty one days of 13.1 miles. Back to back.

Queen’s University Belfast – End of AIDS debate







Organisations involved: Literary & Scientific Society, Queen’s University of Belfast,

Event: End of AIDS debate

Location: Belfast

About: The Literary & Scientific Society, known as the Literific, is the debating society at Queen’s University of Belfast

The Literific hosted a special debate for World AIDS Day 2013 with the motion ‘This House Believes We Will See the End of AIDS.’  Speakers included Michael Campbell, a law student and editor of who lives positively with HIV, plus students from QUB.

Marie-Louise Synnott, Treasurer for the society, told us: “Over 50 people attended the debate and red ribbons were handed out with the proceeds to a HIV awareness charity. Arguments were put forward from both sides, there was a vote and the Ayes had it – this house Does believe we will see the end of AIDS.”

Literific’s events are hosted at 7pm every Thursday at Queen’s University Belfast and all members of the community are welcome.

Tagadere – Christmas Craft Fair







Organisation: Tagadere

Event: Christmas Craft Fair

Location: Nottinghamshire

About: Tagadere is a charity operated by people living with HIV for people living with HIV. They are the only volunteer run, user-led self-help support group for people living with HIV in Nottinghamshire and have been chosen as Lord Mayor of Nottingham’s chosen charity.

Tagadere supported World AIDS Day 2013 with a Christmas Craft Fair designed to raise awareness of HIV to the wider community and demonstrate their support as a local charity.

Simon from Tagadere told us: “The aim of the Christmas Craft Fair was to raise awareness of HIV, to bring people together and to publicise Tagadere a local group operated by local people; a fact which demonstrates the continued presence of HIV not only in the wider world but in local communities.  We feel that we successfully achieved our aims and are already planning our next event for 2014.”

Tagadere’s weekly drop-in provides an environment which is confidential, supportive, secure and non-judgmental where the diverse cross-section of the local population living with HIV are welcomed.

Positive Life: Images of Otherness Exhibition







Organisation: Positive Life

Event: Images of Otherness Exhibition

Location: Belfast

About: Positive Life supports and promotes positive living for people with and affected by HIV in Northern Ireland and the border counties.

In order to celebrate World AIDS Day, Positive Life launched the photographic exhibition ‘Images of Otherness’ at the Waterfront Hall. The exhibition featured a collection of photographs created by people affected by HIV in Northern Ireland. The images reflect their daily life and highlight the stigma people with a HIV diagnosis still face. Further awareness raising was helped by political support including the Lord Mayors of Derry/Londonderry and Belfast, Anna Lo who spoke at the Red Ribbon Ball at Parliament Buildings and the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who made a personal visit to their offices in Belfast City Centre.

Better2know would like to thank all the organisations and supporters involved with World AIDS Day 2013. For the third year running we supported the Terrence Higgins Trust by making a donation for each HIV test booked during the two weeks around World AIDS Day.  If you’d like to find out more about our services please visit

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