Barcelona town hall illuminated red in commemoration of World AIDS Day
Platform for fight against AIDS denounces stigma that still surrounds people with HIV
A platform of Catalan organizations working in the fight against AIDS, ‘the December 1st Committee’, has denounced that the stigma and discrimination suffered by carriers of HIV are still “very high,” noting that half of those affected are unemployed. The chairman of the committee, Alberto Capitán, has stated that it is essential to create a social pact in order to overcome this situation.
Although, at the start of World AIDS Day, commemorated every December 1, Capitán acknowledged that more and more effective treatments are available that significantly reduce mortality rates, but warned that discrimination against people with HIV is still prevalent in their daily lives. To prevent this, he believes, measures can be implemented in order to convey an “appropriate message” of what HIV actually is in the context of the modern world. Around 36.7 million people have HIV worldwide.
The minister of public health, Joan Guix, has also recognized the problem, saying that the involvement of all departments could be possible to fight against this stigma, and also to improve the health of those infected. The best way to do this, he believes, is by “explaining, informing, speaking.”
Waiting for results
Guix also recalled that, with respect to AIDS treatments, there are three studies underway to analyse the effects of the preventative pill PreP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis.) The pill still has not been approved in Spain as a whole yet even though it has been around for years, but a centre dedicated to the medication recently opened in Barcelona.
For Guix, these three studies provide “coverage and suficient time” to wait and see if the Spanish Drug Agency will actually authorize the drug, and make the right decision in Catalonia. “All the tools are valid,” he said, defending the need not to rush into such issues.
The minister also recalled that the incidence of HIV in Catalonia remains stable, affecting between 700 and 800 people on a yearly basis. Guix also stressed that a joint action plan has been approved for other sexually transmitted infections and hepatitis, that should improve results in this area.
The December 1st Committee estimates that during 2016, 150,000 people requested help, assistance and information from the various 23 bodies that make up the platform. Capitán acknowledged that these bodies worry about their own “sustainability,” and also about people who may have stopped seeking help from them.
Capitán and Guix made their statements on Thursday evening in front of the backdrop of the illuminated red façade of the city council's town hall in Plaça Sant Jaume. The balcony of the government headquarters was also illuminated red in the first act commemorating World AIDS Day.
The December 1 Committee has also installed an information tent in Plaça Sant Jaume, in the centre of the Catalan capital. On Friday, people make a human chain in the form of the red ribbon synonymous with the syndrome in the middle of the square. Later in the day, there will be further acts elsewhere in the city.