AIDS Day event cut short after accident

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World AIDS Day 2018. Pic © Adele Matthews JMU Journalism

A sudden accident cut short a World AIDS Day (WAD) vigil as St George’s Hall’s concert room had to be evacuated.

The event hosted by Sahir House, an HIV support, information and training centre in Merseyside, was cancelled as an ambulance had to be called for a woman who had fallen and lost consciousness.

Paramedics have since confirmed that she was sat up and talking by the end of the evening, and the charity will now look to host another evening.

As part the WAD 30th anniversary, panels from the UK AIDS Memorial Quilt were displayed at St George’s Hall throughout the day to commemorate the international movement that sought to raise awareness of the impact of the AIDS epidemic and to ensure those lives were not to be forgotten.

Kathleen Charters, a wellbeing practitioner at Sahir House and who helped plan the event, told JMU Journalism: “We’re excited about the panels as a piece of social history. The stitching and the making was an important piece of work and coming together for people who may not have had any space for them to discuss their bereavement.

“We usually get a number of people at this event who have been affected by HIV or who have lost people in their lives, who come as there’s no other place or no other time where they can openly speak about their loss to other people.”

YouTube: Adele Matthews

HIV is a virus that damages the cells in the immune system, whilst AIDS is the name used to describe a number of potentially life-threatening infections and illnesses that happen when your immune system has been severely damaged by the HIV virus.

The quilt panels tell the story of those lost in the early days of the HIV and AIDS epidemic in 1980s and 1990s, but has been in storage for several years. Sahir House and other charities have collectively established the AIDS Memorial Quilt Conservation Partnership, to raise awareness of its importance in history and to restore and conserve it for generations to come.

The event itself was the final instalment of the 2018 Homotopia Festival.

Guest curator for the festival, Cheryl Martin, told JMU Journalism: “I was a reporter back in the 80s and AIDS was my ‘beat’, so I thought it would be good for Homotopia to commission a brand new panel and ours is about 30 years of positive change.”