Manchester is to mark World AIDS Day (WAD) with a number of events being held across the city.
The activities will provide an opportunity to show solidarity with all those living with HIV and remember everyone who has lost their life to the virus.
The centrepiece of the commemorations will be a candlelit procession – led by The Lord Mayor of Manchester, Councillor Carl Austin-Behan – and vigil in Sackville Gardens on Thursday 1 December.
Councillor Peter Cookson, Manchester City Council’s lead member for gay men’s issues will address the assembled crowds in Sackville Gardens by the Beacon of Hope – the national HIV/AIDS memorial – as the vigil continues.The vigil will also feature people speaking about their own experiences of living with HIV and live musical performances from Manchester Glee, musician and activist Claire Mooney and drag star Divina De Campo.
The event has been organised by the Manchester World AIDS Day Partnership, which comprises of Manchester City Council, The BHA, Brook Manchester, George House Trust, The Lesbian & Gay Foundation, Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust and the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester.
Councillor Peter Cookson, Manchester City Council’s lead member for gay men’s issues, said: “It’s important that we remember and celebrate those we have lost to this virus, and to encourage people to find out their HIV status.
“Treatment has improved so much in recent years that if you’re diagnosed early you can expect to live just as long as someone who is HIV negative. But the key thing is to find out your status – and getting tested has never been easier.”
The procession will begin at Sackville Gardens, by the Beacon of Hope – the national AIDS memorial – then wind its way through the Gay Village before arriving back at Sackville Gardens for a candlelit vigil to remember those who have been lost to the virus.
Red ribbons – the universal symbol of awareness and support for those living with HIV – will be on sale at Manchester’s WAD events and a number of Manchester City Council premises.
Lord Mayor of Manchester, Councillor Carl Austin-Behan, said: “The events and activities taking place across the city not only commemorate those who have lost their lives to the virus but help towards the eradication of the stigma and discrimination all too often faced by all those living with HIV.The importance of getting tested cannot be overestimated. Early diagnosis is critical – so please, if you have had unprotected sex get tested. It’s easy, painless and early testing really does save lives.”
A day of music, food and dance will be held at the St Thomas Centre in Ardwick, on Saturday 3 December. Activities on the day will celebrate the lives of those who have lost their lives to HIV and AIDS, and discover advances made in the fight against HIV.
Manchester Piccadilly Train Station will host the World AIDS Day stall from 10am – 4pm on Thursday 1 December. Visitors to the stall will be encouraged to post pictures and messages on social media showing their support for those affected by the virus.