On December 1st a small number of staff, students and friends gathered outside the University Chapel to commemorate World AIDS Day 2016.
The evening commenced with a facilitated discussion an PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV) led by Sexual Health at Kent Community Health NHS Trust.
John Gilmore Co-Chair of CCCq welcomed the group on behalf of the University and reflected on the meaning of the day.
‘Today we wear a Red Ribbon to remember the more than 35 million people who have died because of AIDS and HIV related illness.
We remember those denied research and treatment.
We remember those treated like outcasts.
We remember those told that they deserved it.
We remember those denied love and compassion.
It is also a day to be thankful.
Thankful that because of research, education and treatment it is possible to live a long and healthy life HIV positive.
Thankful for the activists, for the researchers and for the healthcare professionals who have made this possible.
Today is also a day to stand up.
Stand up against the prejudice and stigma associated with HIV.
Stand up to the ignorance. To Educate.
To shout out as loud as we can that we will not accept the corporate greed, political apathy and prejudice that means some people living with HIV do not live a full and happy life.
People still die because of HIV.
Dying of AIDS because they cannot afford treatment, die by suicide because of stigma and rejection.
People needlessly contract this virus because of a lack of free condoms, because they cannot access PrEP, because their sexual health education is abysmal.
HIV is a political crisis.
We are the first generation who can actually end transmission of HIV, who can stop people dying from AIDS. Let’s do it!’
The group then entered the chapel for a candle lit vigil led by Dr Stephen O’Connor CCCq member. Candles were lit and a number of prayers and poems were read before the group joined together to sing Labi Siffre’s So Strong.
A lantern lit Red Ribbon route followed to St Paul’s Church where a mulled wine and mince pie reception was hosted.
The event was jointly organised by CCCq and Kent Community Health. Many thanks to all who supported especially the chaplaincy team at Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent County Council and St Martin and St Paul.