“People with HIV still fear being marginalized or stigmatized because of their HIV status,” says Alex Schneider, Chair of Life4me+. The scientist wants to use the upcoming European AIDS Congress (EACS) in Switzerland to educate the general public about life with HIV.
In November 2019, about 3,000 researchers and community members will meet in Basel for the 17th EACS conference. According to Schneider, much of what’s discussed at events like EACS never reaches the general public: “People with HIV who receive successful therapy can not pass it on to other people. Not even via sex without a condom.”
It has been known for many years that when there is no virus, often called ‘undetectable’ it can not be transmitted. “The modern drugs can reduce the viral load so much that no viruses are found in the blood of people living with HIV,” explains the PhD chemist. Schneider, who has lived in Lenzburg in the Swiss canton of Aargau for five years, founded the international organization Life4me+. Through his work with Life4me+ he has been organizing awareness-raising campaigns since 2017, including the attentiongrabbing formula ‘U=U’ which is short for ‘undetectable equals untransmittable’.
The first event of Life4me+’s #NoHIVstigma campaign will be the “Think Positive” party at Bar Rouge above the rooftops of Basel. Everyone is invited, regardless of their cultural background, sexual orientation, age, gender identity, or indeed HIV status.
Life4me+ invite all committed and interested individuals to join them in solidarity against HIV stigma. The guest list includes activists from backgrounds including HIV, human rights, LGB rights, trans rights, sex workers rights as well as politicians, physicians, researches and public health experts – both from home and abroad.
A protest march
One highlight of the campaign will be a demonstration with a protest march through the city of Basel. Many partners, including the Social Democratic Party Basel-Stadt, Green Party Basel-Stadt, Basel’s strong alternative (BastA), and Young Socialists Baselland support the demonstration. They will also share the #NoHIVstigma message to both raise awareness of, and tackle, stigmatization and discrimination of people living with HIV. The message aims to embrace those who feel affected or in solidarity, whether LGBTI+, sex workers, or migrants.
Schedule of the march you can find here .
More details about #NoHIVstigma campaign and other events here.