AIDS isn’t Over: Activists and celebrities unite for new campaign

Activists and celebrities unite for the AIDS isn't Over campaign video

Ahead of World AIDS Day, Frontline AIDS is launching its ‘AIDS Isn’t Over’ campaign to reignite the conversation around HIV and AIDS.

Activists from Uganda, India, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Trinidad and Tobago and Ukraine – countries where HIV remains a significant public health issue – are joined by several famous faces in a unique rendition of the iconic 80s anthem by Simple Minds, ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’.

Lending their support for the campaign are a group of celebrities who have a shared passion for this issue, including Stonewall founder and politician, Lord Michael Cashman; fashion designer, Henry Holland; UK rugby player, Keegan Hirst; singer, Kalon Rae; and drag artists, Bambini Babez and Divina De Campo.

They feature alongside global activists who have dedicated their lives to preventing and treating HIV and AIDS including Dr Frank Mugisha, an LGBTQ+ advocate in Uganda where same-sex relationships are still illegal; Abhina Aher, an Indian transgender activist who has worked for transgender empowerment; and Anton Basenko, who became an HIV activist in Ukraine after being diagnosed with HIV in his youth.

The campaign aims to raise awareness that, although HIV is a manageable condition in some parts of the world, AIDS remains a significant epidemic globally. Whereas the UK experiences fewer than 5,000 new infections and less than 500 HIV-associated deaths annually, more than 1.7 million people contract HIV each year globally – and 13,000 people still die of AIDS-related illness every week.

‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ was chosen as a symbolic anthem for the campaign, not only because it was released at the height of the AIDS crisis in the UK in 1985, but also because the lyrics highlight the risk that HIV is becoming a ‘forgotten’ pandemic, especially now with all attention focused on COVID-19.

Christine Stegling, Executive Director at Frontline AIDS, says: In countries like the UK, we have seen tremendous progress both on prevention and treatment for people living with HIV. The challenge is that many people now view AIDS more like a moment in history than an active epidemic that affects millions and leads to thousands of deaths every week. We’ve come a long way from the 80s, but we can’t leave the job half done.

“We are incredibly grateful to our partner organisations and celebrity supporters for helping us to create the video and bring this important message to a wider audience.”

Dr Frank Mugisha, an HIV activist and LGBTQ+ advocate in Uganda says: “This campaign is close to my heart because I have spent my career fighting against stigma and trying to expand access to HIV testing and treatment.

“We have achieved significant change over four decades of HIV activism. But the difficult reality is that not everyone has the same access to education, HIV prevention, and treatment – often due to stigma around who they are or where they live. This inequality is not acceptable and needs to change.”

Henry Holland, leading British fashion designer who is supporting Frontline AIDS, says: “Living in the UK makes it easy to believe that we have moved past the HIV and AIDS crisis, but this is not the case.  Working with Frontline AIDS to raise awareness of HIV infections and deaths globally has opened my eyes to how far we have to go before the crisis is truly in the past. In many areas of the world, HIV and AIDS are not under control and now, COVID-19 could make things much worse. I hope this campaign adds more voices to the fight for a true end to the AIDS crisis.”

Watch the full video at www.frontlineaids.org/aidsisntover

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