Activism has always been a key part of Pride and it is vital that’s never lost, says Terrence Higgins Trust’s CEO Ian Green.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I would be back in the Pride Parade in my (very, very early) 50s. But, as CEO of Terrence Higgins Trust, that is exactly what’s happened – and I’m thrilled.
For the last two years we have picked up our placards to ensure the amazing LGBT community is fired up about some really important issues relating to HIV. Because of this, Pride events are key parts of our year and real highlights too.
This summer we’re up and down the country with our Can’t Pass It On campaign, including at Glasgow, Cardiff, Brighton, Bristol, Norwich and London Prides.
Memorably, two years ago we joined with the entire HIV sector to campaign for PrEP access for all who need it and to call on NHS England to urgently act to make this a reality.
The opportunity for activism at Pride has always been vital to us here at Terrence Higgins Trust, ever since we began our work following the death of our namesake Terry Higgins back in 1982. He was one of the very first in the UK to die of an AIDS-related illness and we do everything we do in his name.
Last year we began our mission to champion the message that people living with HIV who are on effective treatment – like me – can’t pass it on. For context, that’s a whopping 97% of all those who are diagnosed and on treatment in the UK.
This year, once again, we’re promoting that message. Because there are still far too many people, both within and outside the LGBT community, who don’t know the realities of HIV in 2018. And, as we hear on a near daily basis, this is having a negative impact on people living with HIV, including on their mental health, relationships and wellbeing.
Pride is a key way of us engaging with one of our most important communities, and one that, sadly, continues to be disproportionately affected by HIV. But, I’ll be honest, it never feels like work. Especially when the sun’s shining and spirits are high.
I have really fond, if a little fuzzy, memories of Pride in the 1980s and 90s in (I think) Hyde and Brockwell parks. I especially remember the annual memorial for all those lost (much too soon) to the HIV epidemic – including many of my friends. This part of the day became even more poignant after my own diagnosis in ‘96.
And it’s important to look back and see how much LGBT activism has achieved since the first ever Pride all those years ago. For example, I’m not just bringing my partner with me to Pride, but my husband.
For the most part, however, I’m a huge believer in looking forward. What’s next? What else can we do? What are the priorities?
But I have no doubt that Pride matters. It’s always mattered and, as far as I can see, it always will.
Terrence Higgins Trust at Pride
Parading with pride
This year Terrence Higgins Trust is championing the game-changing message that people living with HIV on effective treatment Can’t Pass It On. Please give us a cheer and listen to our important message.
Visit our stalls
We’ll also be giving out condoms, lube and health information at stalls in Trafalgar Square and Soho Square. You can also pick up a free HIV self test kit, where you can test yourself and get a result within 15 minutes – we wouldn’t advise you actually do the test during Pride though.
UK Black Pride
On Sunday our attention turns to UK Black Pride at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, where the team will be on hand to talk about our new It Starts With Me campaign about all the ways you can now prevent HIV – condoms, testing, PrEP and effective treatment which means people living with HIV can’t pass it on.
Can’t Pass It On – do you know the facts?
People living with HIV who are on effective treatment can’t pass it on – with or without a condom.
This is based on evidence from the pioneering PARTNER Study, which looked at 58,000 instances of sex without a condom where one partner was HIV positive and one was HIV negative.
Results found that where the HIV positive partner was on effective treatment (reducing the amount of the virus to ‘undetectable’ levels), there were zero cases of HIV transmission.
This gives us the robust evidence to confidently say that people on effective HIV treatment can’t pass on the virus.