Challenging Stigma Since 1989
Today, the 17th February marks 30 years since Waverley Care was established. Back in 1989, the world was a different place. Margaret Thatcher was still Prime Minister, Berlin was still separated by a wall and the number 1 single was Something Gotten Hold of My Heart by Marc Almond and Gene Pitney.
I was 17 back then but I still remember the fear around HIV and the way people with AIDS were treated and portrayed in the media and beyond. I was going off to Edinburgh University later that year and it felt like a scary and uncertain time. During my time at university, I started thinking about working in HIV and I feel so lucky that all those years later I got to work for Waverley Care.
I didn’t know Waverley Care back then but the charity had already opened its doors, beginning to support people who were dying of AIDS. Two years later we opened Milestone, to provide end of life care and support to many individuals and families during really difficult times. None of them have been forgotten.
It is amazing how much has changed in the intervening years – we have excellent treatments for HIV, PrEP on the NHS and, it was announced that Scotland had met the UNAIDS 90:90:90 goals for HIV on World AIDS Day 2018. HIV is for most people a long term condition while hepatitis C is now curable with treatment. Waverley Care has evolved too and we now focus on prevention and supporting people to live as well as possible with these conditions.
Looking ahead though, there is still so much for us to do at Waverley Care.. Stigma, particularly around HIV, hugely impacts on people’s health and well-being, fuelling a reluctance to test and know your status. Moreover, HIV and Hepatitis C continue to impact on particularly vulnerable communities so we continue to do all we can to support some of the most marginalised people in society. A great example of this is our new Big Lottery funded HIV Street Support Team, who are helping tackle the HIV outbreak in Glasgow by supporting homeless people who inject drugs to access testing, treatment and support.
Waverley Care has played a huge part in Scotland’s response to HIV and hepatitis C and I am so proud of all we’ve done. I’d like to thank all the staff, volunteers, funders and supporters who have all played their part and done so much to shape the charity we are today.
I hope you will help us mark our 30th year by joining us in challenging HIV and hepatitis C stigma across Scotland. Together, we can help make a positive difference.
Grant Sugden, CEO Waverley Care