Annie Lennox calls on people across South Scotland to ‘Hear the Truth’ about HIV

Annie Lennox, iconic Scottish singer and HIV activist, is getting behind Waverley Care’s ‘Always Hear’ campaign to help increase understanding of HIV and to tackle the stigma and discrimination that surrounds it in South Scotland.

This comes on the back of a recent survey by Waverley Care - Scotland’s leading charity providing care and support to people with HIV – conducted by YouGov, which highlights worrying gaps in the knowledge and understanding of HIV amongst Scots.

The findings show that there is still confusion around HIV transmission in Scotland with a percentage of people in South Scotland incorrectly believing that HIV can be passed on from person to person by kissing (18%), sharing a glass (5%), spitting (20%) and coughing or sneezing (4%).

A lack of general HIV knowledge was also highlighted throughout Scotland with national figures showing nearly a quarter (23%) of adults are unaware that a person who is HIV positive can live for more than 20 years. While 15% mistakenly think a person living with HIV cannot have a baby who is HIV negative. A proportion of adults (19%) also believe that HIV stops people practising as a doctor, when this is not the case.

  • Nearly a quarter of people in South Scotland (21%) are unaware that a person living with HIV can live for more than 20 years
  • A proportion of adults in South Scotland do not feel sympathy towards people living with HIV (15%)
  • Over half of people in South Scotland (51%) cannot correctly identify all of the ways HIV is and is not transmitted from a list of possible routes
  • More than three quarter of people in South Scotland (78%) think more needs to be done to tackle stigma and prejudice against people living with HIV in Scotland

The figures did however show that majority of people in South Scotland do have sympathy for people living with HIV (88%) and that the general feeling is that more needs to be done to tackle stigma (78%). However, a significant minority continue to hold stigmatising and discriminatory views with 12% of people claiming not to have sympathy for those living with HIV.

Calling on people across South Scotland to stamp out HIV stigma Annie Lennox said:

“Stigma is one of the biggest challenges facing the diagnosis and treatment of HIV in Scotland and around the world today. HIV treatment has improved dramatically over the last twenty years, but discrimination of the condition still means that people are scared to get tested. HIV stigma fuels people’s fear to test, which in turn leads to new infections as people don’t know whether they have HIV or not. That’s why I’m backing Waverley Care’s ‘Always Hear’ campaign to tackle the myths and stigma surrounding HIV in a bid to stop new infections and improve life for people living with the condition today.”

– Annie Lenox

Funded by The Scottish Government, the ‘Always Hear’ 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.

“It’s hugely positive to see that the majority of people across South Scotland have supportive attitudes towards people living with HIV, and feel that more needs to be done to get rid of the stigma and discrimination that prevails in our society. However, these new findings prove that there are still awareness gaps about HIV in Scotland, which needs to be addressed.

“More often than not, stigma and discrimination stems from an unfounded fear of infection due to a lack of knowledge about HIV. As indicated in our survey, more people in Scotland need to learn the facts.

“Our Always Hear anti-stigma campaign is working hard to get the truth and information out there about HIV in Scotland, and importantly to give people living with HIV a voice. With almost 6,000 people living with HIV in Scotland, it’s vital that more time and effort is spent educating the public so that we can hear the truth about HIV, eradicate the fear and ultimately put an end to the stigma that surrounds the condition. We hope these new findings today, and Annie’s support make the public think about their own attitudes so that we can move closer to achieving a Scottish society free from HIV stigma.”

– Grant Sugden, Waverley Care’s Chief Executive,

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 [here.

For further information about the ‘Always Hear’ campaign click here.