Liverpool holds vigil for World Aids Day

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Quilts created in honour of those who have passed from HIV. Pic © JMU Journalism

Landmarks across the city lit up red in honour of World Aids Day on Sunday.

The Cunard Building hosted an intimate evening to remember those lost due to HIV, others still affected by it and to spread information regarding how far treatment has come.

Sahir House, which organised the vigil, has been offering HIV support, prevention information and training across Merseyside since 1985.

CEO Tessa Willow hosted the event, including guest speakers and medical professionals.

She said: “Over 60,000 people in Liverpool have been affected by HIV. We are here to help and support everyone no matter what stage you are in and ensure you get the best treatment and information possible.

Several stories from people diagnosed with HIV were told, including one from Annette. She was not personally in attendance as she wished her identity to remain confidential and, instead, sent a letter to be read aloud due to the audience.

YouTube: Terrence Higgins Trust

It told off her struggle with the stigmas surrounding HIV and the vulgarity towards it that she has witnessed as a nurse, with this being the reason she wished to remain anonymous.

One speaker, who requested to be named as Martin, told JMU Journalism about being diagnosed with HIV in the 1980s.

He said: “I remember when I first heard the word Aids. I knew I’d be mocked in school the next day and sure enough, I was and it was endless. I got harassed every day.

“I ended up running away. I ran and I ran and I ran and never looked back. Back then it was a death sentence. You had to take a handful of pills several times a day and that was it for the rest of your life. I didn’t want to live like that. It was surviving not living.

“The way treatment has come since then is amazing. People need to know that it’s not a death sentence anymore and there’s help out there.”

The Liverpool Rainbow Chorus accompanied violinist Peter Morgan at the end of the evening for a candlelight vigil for the people Liverpool has lost to HIV this year.

About Christopher Megrath, JMU Journalism