With most of 2020 in the rearview mirror its time to sum up the year. We thank all members who choose to be part of the association (together we are strong!), partners, collaborators and all of those who supports the cause for a better life with HIV, as well as all other organizations or individuals who in some capacity work for people living with HIV.
2020 has been a different and eventful year, here is a reflection on some selected areas and events that took place during the year.
Politics, policy and our rights
The Social Affairs Committee voted in February to review the Communicable Diseases Act and the duty for people living with HIV informing partners of their status. As we already have a precedent in the Supreme Court and changed rules of conduct, much has already been gained, but the work of starting a recast of the law has yet to come. With the Public Health Agency’s abundantly clear announcement from 2019 and the parliament majority for an overhaul of the law, there is a strong mandate for change. However, the government’s response and lack of sense of urgency on the issue is poor.
Development and change are also needed regionally. In the report Sexuality and health among young people living with HIV in Sweden , which the Swedish Public Health Agency published during this year’s World Aids Day, young people with HIV wants more knowledge about their rights and how they can live a more open life with HIV. When asked about their needs, “meeting other young people with HIV” ranks third (behind free condoms and information about rights). The needs reflect previous studies as well as the observations we have made and continue to make in the entire target group. To receive information on how to meet others who live with HIV should be a right, and the hiv healthcare system needs to adapt and accommodate this need.
Covid-19 and HIV
When Covid-19 made its entry during the spring, many wondered how this affects us who live with HIV. Are we a risk group? The studies on the subject, to date, indicate that HIV alone does not significantly affect the severity of the disease. That is, people with HIV do not get corona more easily and do not experience more severe illness. Of those who live with HIV and have tested positive for the corona virus, all of those we know are doing well. As both Covid and HIV are infectious diseases, our access to care has also been strained and limited for periods of time, and infectious disease doctors, serving those of us who live with HIV have also been involved in the work with Covid-19. In addition to the purely medical consequences, the pandemic has also led to an increase in isolation and loneliness. Many have become aware of the value of social activities, and what impact it has on our health.
Meetups and social activities
Despite the pandemic, we have done a lot of fun things during the year. In the month of june we went on a horseback riding excursion in Söderåsen National Park. Many who have not been in this area were probably surprised that Skåne is not just fields and flat land!
As a substitute for the drop-in meetups we had arranged during the spring, we arranged city walks in Malmö. On one occasion we visited Malmö Museum, we also made several visits to the lovely Slottsträdgårdens Kafé at Kungsparken. During the summer we had the chance to welcome several new members to the association. It has been extra fun to meet those who have recently arrived in Sweden and learn about living with HIV in other countries. It also feels great that these activities can serve as a plattform for people to find each other and establish contacts that they can then develop themselves.
The big activity of the autumn was a feel-good weekend in Tylösand. We enjoyed peer exchange, great food and a good time in the hotel’s spa, right up until closing time. The weekend was one of the highlights of the year. We were lucky enough to spot a period when the spread of infection was low, and with a few simple rules of conduct, it was an infection-free event in every sense!
With the stricter restrictions that were then introduced locally in Skåne during the autumn, World Aids Day was moved to the streets. The day became a week, the event “World Aids Day goes World Aids Week” was born and lasted from November 23 to December 1. We reached 7,971 people online and our partner stores were visited by just over 7,000 people during the campaign. With the graffiti wall and the visibility with the scarves, we hope that people have opened their eyes and hopefully learned something new about HIV. The reaction from the public has been greater than last year, and the collaboration with the other organizations has made HIV visible in places and in channels that we otherwise wouldn´t have the chance to use.
We also remember 2020 as the year when Hans left us. A great sorrow and loss. A friend who has been faithful to the association for a long time and worked to make us who live with HIV feel a little better. We remember Hans both in the personal conversations and when he went around schools all over Sweden to talk about HIV. We take what you gave us with us and during the holidays we give Hans a thought and hope he is well wherever he is now.
Your support matters – Looking forward
We look forward to 2021 with confidence, a year we want to fill with optimism. Do you want to join that journey !?
You are more than welcome to get involved. Give your support by becoming a member or activate yourself as a volunteer or peer! Feel free to read more about the different paths here: https://www.pgsyd.se/en/become-a-member/
For those of you who are already members, to also be a member for 2021 – Swisha SEK 100 to number 123 655 4422 or bankgiro 576-2844. Mark the payment “Member 2021”. Thank you for your support!
Opening hours during Christmas and New years holidays
The office will close from Wednesday 23 December and the business will reopen on 4 January. During this period we only read emails sporadically and are not available by phone.
Wish all of you a great 2021. Take care.
Positiva Gruppen Syd