Mayor commits £130,000 for London’s first permanent HIV/AIDS memorial

Sadiq Khan said the memorial would send a 'powerful message of solidarity' to those living with HIV. Credit: PA

Sadiq Khan has announced funding of £130,000 to build London's first permanent HIV and Aids memorial.

The Mayor of London says the project will serve as a "powerful message of solidarity" to those living with the virus and will help "address the stigma and discrimination" they face.

It is especially relevant to London, as more than 40% of people with a diagnosis live in the capital.

This week the mayor signed City Hall up as the founding member of Fast-Track Cities, London’s new HIV Confident Charter to tackle stigma and discrimination in the workplace.

Its aim is to ensure Londoners living with HIV can access services, jobs and feel included in society without fear of discrimination, with City Hall providing specialist training and support for staff.

Mr Khan says London is working towards achieving the United Nations' development goal of zero HIV transmissions by 2030.

The mayor's office said London was leading the way in tackling HIV Credit: Unsplash/Bermix Studio

Earlier this week Sir Elton John, a long-running and respected campaigner on this issue, spoke in Parliament urging MPs to work towards this target.

Mr Khan announced funding for the memorial on World Aids Day, which he describes as a "time to remember and honour all those who have been lost to the disease, and to "unite everyone in our ongoing battle against the virus and the stigma that too frequently comes with it".

“We have come a long way in addressing those taboos and City Hall is once again leading the way in tackling health inequalities by signing the HIV Confident charter," he added.

Work is now underway to commission an artist for the memorial, which will be located in Camden near the first dedicated HIV/AIDS hospital ward in the UK.

The commission has worked closely with AIDS Memory UK, the charity driving the memorial project, over the past two years and the memorial will be in place by 2026.

Sir Elton John spoke in Parliament this week urging MPs to work towards stamping out HIV by 2030. Credit: PA

London is now the world-leading city for HIV diagnosis and treatment, with 96% of people with HIV diagnosed, 98% of whom are on treatment and 99% of those with the HIV virus suppressed.

Today, representatives from Camden Council, City Hall and AIDS Memory UK were due to take part in an annual vigil to remember those who have died and the communities impacted by HIV and Aids.

This year's ceremony will be held at the site of the proposed memorial.

Alongside the new charter, HIV and sexual health charity the Terrance Higgins Trust will be running an ambassadors programme with the aim of "changing hearts and minds" regarding HIV.

Its chief executive Richard Angell said: “Currently people living with HIV still face unacceptably high levels of stigma, including rejection on dating apps, isolation in their communities and completely unnecessary double gloving in hospitals."

Ash Kotak, founder and CEO of AIDS Memory UK, said: “For over 40 years, HIV stigma has continued as well as the associated abuse due to our race, our gender, our sexuality, our religion, our nationality; the way we look, our values; our beliefs and our virus.

"We lost so many, saw so much hate; felt too much pain and loneliness; rejection; alienation… We will and cannot forget.”

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