AN online vigil will be held this evening to mark World Aids Day amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A public vigil is normally held at the Aids Memorial in New Steine Gardens to remember those who have died.

This year, due to Covid-19 restrictions, an online vigil will be held live at 6pm. There will be a reading to commemorate all those who have been lost as a result of Aids.

Brighton and Hove City Council leader Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty will be among those participating. 

He said: “World Aids Day is a chance for us to come together in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV and commemorate those who have died from an Aids-related illness.

“I welcome the fact that new HIV diagnoses in gay and bisexual men are at their lowest in 20 years and that new diagnoses in the city continue to fall. However, HIV has not gone away. 

“Brighton & Hove has the highest rate of HIV outside of London and more than 100,000 people are living with it in the UK. So there’s still a vital need for all of us to increase awareness, improve education and fight the scourge of stigma that is still faced by many.

“Because of Covid-19 we need to ensure those living with HIV are living well. As well as important work of local NHS and council services, there are many wonderful organisations offering services such as peer support, and access to healthy food such as Lunch Positive and Sussex Beacon. 

“This World Aids Day, central government needs to increase and ring-fence the financial support for HIV and sexual health services so this work can deepen.

“Unfortunately we can’t stand together in person this year as we mourn those who have died while we fight for the living. But please join us online and show your support.”

To take part in the vigil, visit the YouTube channel here or view it on Latest TV, which is channel 7 on Freeview or channel 159 on Virgin Media.

The Terrence Higgins Trust offers support, advice and information about sexual health and HIV, as well as HIV and STI testing and counselling.

For more information about HIV and sexual health services in the city, visit the council website here.