The Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa staff celebrated World Aids Day with the ceremonial release of red balloons. The event took place yesterday at the head office in Cape Town. The significance behind the balloons was to bring awareness to HIV/AIDS stigma. 

HPCA staff participated in a World AIDS Day event with the aim to raise awareness of the day and the theme for 2017 which was; ‘Lets End It!’ calling on people around the world to take action to end the negative impact of HIV and AIDS.

Staff first held a one-minute candle light ceremony honoring those who are impacted by HIV in a personal manner. This was then followed by a personal pledge made by each staff member to show their support for this day. Once this was concluded staff wrote a “a message of hope” which was then put into the red balloons and released into the air.  

Many people do not realise that palliative care has a vital role to play in ending HIV stigma, transmission and isolation.

The Lancet Commission on Global Access to Palliative Care and Pain Relief found that 50% of people dying from HIV/AIDS experience moderate or severe pain lasting on average 90 days.

The most common types of health-related suffering for people living with HIV are pain and anxiety or worry. These are symptoms that can be relieved through quality palliative care.

The background document to the Lancet Commission report notes that 100% of people who die from HIV/AIDs require palliative care to address their pain and other symptoms and to improve quality of life. Read more about these stats from the original article posted on World Aids Day through ehospice International here.

HPCA and many other hospice & palliative care organisations from around the world will continue to advocate for the people living with HIV that must have a) access to high-quality and b) affordable palliative care services. The proper integration of palliative care into a strong HIV response will no doubt help strengthen health systems around the world!