Grant Sugden: HIV care requires respect and no stigma

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with almost 6,000 people living with HIV in Scotland, Waverley Care – Scotland’s leading charity providing care and support to people with HIV – is launching a new awareness and anti-stigma campaign ‘Always Hear’ to give people who live with HIV a voice.

Funded by The Scottish Government, the new campaign seeks to get the truth and information out there about HIV in Scotland. It aims to raise awareness of HIV, and stamp out the stigma and discrimination that surrounds the condition. Short films have been created, capturing the experiences of four people who are HIV positive. They are true stories, told by the people themselves about what it’s really like living with HIV in Scotland, and can be watched at

A survey by National AIDS Trust revealed that 85 per cent of respondents believed that all young people should be taught about HIV in secondary schools. In response, as part of the campaign, a resource pack has been specially developed by Waverley Care to help young people (S3 – S6 students) understand HIV. It includes a DVD of the short films and a suite of activities to explore the issues and enhance their learning.

The pack will be distributed to every secondary school across the country via local authorities.

Grant Sugden, Waverley Care’s Director, said: “It’s been a long time since HIV dominated the headlines in the 1980s and early 90s, and so much has changed since then. People living with HIV in Scotland can now live well with a near-normal life expectancy, especially if diagnosed early.

“The message is simple – let’s listen to those living with HIV. There’s a lot of confusion and misconception about HIV, and we hope that this campaign and the resources will help dispel some of the myths. Our goal is to tackle the stigma and discrimination that surrounds HIV head on, so that we can fight for a Scottish society where people living with HIV are treated with respect.”

Cathy Crawford said: “When it comes to raising awareness of HIV there is a need for people to have a clear idea of the facts and improved knowledge and understanding.”

Drummond Community High School helped launch the campaign and is looking forward to introducing the ‘Always Hear’ resource packs as part of the curriculum.

For further information about the ‘Always Hear’ campaign please go to

• Grant Sugden is director at Waverley Care