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Charity moves to put HIVAids back in the spotlight

Teachers in Scotland need to raise students' awareness of HIV and Aids to combat a misconception that the conditions affect only people in Africa, campaigners have warned.

Alison Irving, of charity Waverley Care, which supports people living with HIV, said the virus had "fallen off society's radar" in recent years, even though there was the equivalent of one new case diagnosed in Scotland every day.

"It was a big thing in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but the arrival of antiretroviral treatment means that few people in Scotland die from Aids, so it's not the headline-grabbing topic it once was," she said.

To thrust HIV and Aids back into the spotlight and address the stigma surrounding them, resource packs will be sent to every secondary school in Scotland next week as part of Waverley Care's HIV Always Hear campaign.

The campaign aims to help people in Scotland to understand more about HIV by listening to the people who live with it.

The resource packs, which are aimed at S3-S6 students, have been funded by the Scottish government and produced by Waverley Care in collaboration with Education Scotland. They contain:

- a DVD comprising four films in which people living with HIV tell their stories;

- four factsheets covering HIV basics, statistics, stigma, facts and myths;

- Curriculum for Excellence resource sheets based on health and well-being experiences and outcomes, including cross-curricular links;

- Written case studies of people living with HIV.

"HIV is a preventable medical condition, but new diagnoses of HIV in Scotland continue," Ms Irving said. "Every new diagnosis of HIV in Scotland is one too many.

"HIV Always Hear aims to educate young people about HIV, to stop new infections and put an end to myths and stigma."

www.hivalwayshear.org

emma.seith@tess.co.uk.

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