Red reflections in the Exhibition Park Lake on a cold November morning. Cakes decorated with red ribbons. Runners decked out head-to-toe in red: it can only be the return of Newcastle Frontrunners’ Red Run. Following a prolonged pandemic-induced pause we were delighted to come together once again to recognise World AIDS Day and support local HIV support charity Blue Sky Trust (BST).
Covid-19 rightly hit the headlines but has made it even more difficult for information about HIV to reach the general public. Ignorance is a huge issue, and HIV sufferers continue to suffer discrimination in work, education, housing and even healthcare.
Caroline from BST gave us a pre-run talk about their work, and we were shocked to learn that locally the staff of a care home still felt masks and gloves were required to deal with HIV-positive residents. The fact that if HIV is undetectable it is untransmissible (U=U) had completely passed them by. It was an indication that HIV continues to be highly stigmatised and misunderstood. Events like ours strive to draw attention to this and educate the public about the reality.
Red ribbons have been worn to signify awareness and support for people living with HIV since 1991 and were the inspiration for holding a Red Run. Our runners were encouraged to either wear red clothes, wear a red ribbon, or both as we ran across the Town Moor and through Exhibition Park. Afterwards we enjoyed red-themed cakes as we chatted to Caroline about the work of BST and made donations. We raised over £450 for the work of BST.
World AIDS Day is a global movement to unite people in the fight against HIV and AIDS.Since 1988, communities have stood together on World AIDS Day to show strength and solidarity against HIV stigma and to remember lives lost.
In the UK, more than 105,000 people are living with HIV. Globally, an estimated 38 million people live with the virus. More than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS related illnesses over the past 40 years, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history. Medical advances mean people with HIV in the UK can expect a long and healthy life and that we have the tools to stop HIV transmissions for good.
World AIDS Day exists to shine a light on the real experiences of people living with HIV today, while celebrating the strength, resilience and diversity of the communities most affected.
Blue Sky Trust are a local charity supporting and connecting people in the North East and Cumbria at every step of their HIV journey. Finding out that you, or a loved one, are living with HIV can be a huge shock. Whether it’s providing help to come to terms with the diagnosis, peer mentoring, rebuilding confidence or becoming part of a supportive community, Blue Sky Trust provides a confidential and safe place to connect and thrive.
We thank Urban Green and the Freemen of Newcastle for permission to hold our event on their land, and our members and friends for their generous financial support and of course cake-baking.
Read more about World AIDS Day at this link: https://worldaidsday.org/about/
Read more about Blue Sky Trust at this link: https://www.blueskytrust.org