Smash the Stigma to be staged at Tom Thumb Theatre to mark World Aids Day

Charity Kase, from Rupaul’s Drag Show, is one of the performers

A show aimed at smashing the stigma of HIV will be staged at the Tom Thumb Theatre in Cliftonville on World Aids Day (December 1).

Smash the Stigma, written by Margate resident Julian Durlacher, will include acts Charity Kase, from Rupaul’s Drag Show, Thanet’s Andrew Gibson and choreographer and performing artist Ash Mukherjee.

Julian said: “Aids may be seen as a thing of the past, treatable and therefore forgettable. Not so for those living with it – every pill taken is a reminder that we carry within us a disease still talked about in hushed tones. HIV may be treatable but the shame is not.

“Smash the Stigma will confront the shame many are made to feel and consign it to history, along with sexism, homophobia and Ricketts.”

Smash the Stigma will be performed at the Tom Thumb Theatre on December 1 at 8pm.

Tickets are £10 and can be bought here

World Aids Day

World Aids Day, designated on 1 December every year since 1988, is an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the Aids pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died of the disease.

It is some 41 years since the first HIV/Aids was recorded in the UK.

A year later in 1982  the Terrence Higgins Trust was set up in memory of 37-year-old Terry Higgins, another victim of the virus.

Since those first diagnoses treatment for HIV has progressed enormously. Some 92% of people living with HIV have been diagnosed, 98% of those are on treatment, and 97% of those are ‘undetectable’ – which means they can’t pass on HIV.

Despite the huge advances there is misunderstanding of HIV in modern times and a stigma is attached.

Testing services

In the UK in 2019, it was estimated that there were 105 200 people living with HIV in the UK. And of those 89% are virally suppressed.

In East Kent testing services are managed by Kent Community NHS Foundation Trust.

HIV testing is provided to anyone within Kent, through an online service or sexual health clinics and some GP surgeries. People aged 16 plus can get tested for HIV using a home testing kit which can be ordered online and delivered through their letterbox.

The test involves collecting a small sample of blood from the finger-tip and sending it back in the post free of charge.

Testing for HIV can be done as early as four weeks after an episode of unprotected sex, or sooner if a person has any symptoms of fever, rash and sore throat which can be a sign of early (primary) HIV transmission.

If a person has a reactive home test result it is important to have a second test to confirm the result as soon as possible. If a confirmation test is positive the person will be offered all the help, including access to free HIV treatment to help lower the levels of the virus in the blood.

To access an HIV test and for more information on services available in Kent, go to

What is HIV

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus contracted through certain specific bodily fluids and is generally spread sexually, via contaminated blood transfusions, or in the case of infants, through breastfeeding. HIV does not directly cause the symptoms that will ultimately lead, if untreated, to death. Rather, it attacks the body’s immune system – specifically the T cells, which are the body’s defences against foreign organisms, such as virus-infected cells. By hijacking the immune system, HIV essentially tears down the fortress that surrounds the body, leaving it open to invaders.

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the condition caused by HIV. A person with AIDS possesses an immune system that is so weakened that it can increasingly not fight off the opportunistic infections that occur in the body.

Now, thanks to modern antiretroviral treatment, very few people in the UK develop serious HIV-related illnesses. The term AIDS isn’t used much by UK doctors. Instead they talk about late-stage or advanced HIV.

HIV treatment does not cure HIV, but it stops the virus from reproducing in the body. It can reduce the amount of virus in the blood to undetectable levels, meaning a person cannot pass on HIV.

Treatment with anti-HIV drugs is sometimes called combination therapy because people usually take three different drugs at the same time – often combined into one tablet.

It’s also known as antiretroviral therapy (ART), or highly active antiretroviral therapy – HAART for short.

Of the 98,552 people accessing HIV care in the UK in 2018, 68,088 were male and 30,388 were female.

In 2019 UK government pledged to end new HIV transmissions by 2030.

Find out more at the Terrence Higgins Trust website

1 Comment

  1. In 2019 UK government pledged to end new HIV transmissions by 2030. Rather silly pledge, it is entirely up to people taking precautions, such as not sharing drug needles & using Jimmy Hats & as we know a lot of people like to do stupid things-like crossing roads while reading their phone.

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