Four activists from Australia, South Africa and the UK embarked on an HIV awareness walk from Brussels Grand Place Sunday (July 15) morning.
They will spend 9 days walking to Amsterdam in the Netherlands, which is 225 km away. They will arrive on the 23rd of July, in time for the 22nd International AIDS conference. The activists have three things they want to change for those with HIV: no stigmatising, no criminalising and no barrier to treatments.
The main person behind the initiative is Ruan Uys, who is HIV positive himself. He founded the “Hivsters” movement to support people with the virus and show them it doesn’t stop you living a happy life.
“This walk is my way of saying thank you to all those that came before me, who helped us achieve all the progress we have made against HIV so far. It’s over to us now. There is still a lot to do, especially in developing countries”, he said on Friday. He was in Brussels that day, to visit the AIDS Prevention platform. “There are still so many avoidable deaths”.
Uys said making treatment more accessible is the best way to end the HIV epidemic. An infected person whose HIV has become undetectable through treatment no longer transmits the virus.
The fight against the discrimination of people with HIV continues. They sometimes discriminate themselves through shame or lack of understanding.
Everyone is invited to join the walk and they can do all or part of the route. More information is available on the website, www.hivsters.info. Ruan Uys wants to create as bigger community as possible, regardless of gender, origin and sexual orientation.
The walk will end with a demonstration in Amsterdam, on the day the International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018) starts. Thousands of scientists and activists are expected to attend.
By Maria Novak