Tesco Bank marks World AIDS Day 2018

To mark World AIDS Day 2018, Out at Tesco held an event for colleagues with Stonewall Scotland and the Terrence Higgins Trust to raise awareness of the disease. Patrick Mason, Legal Counsel and Member of Out at Tesco Bank reflects on the event.

The 1st December marks World AIDS Day and this year’s was particularly poignant -it’s 30 years since the first World AIDS Day and while a great deal has been achieved, there are still 101,000 people living with HIV in the UK, and over 36 million people living with virus global. There is much more to do before the virus is eradicated. 

To mark World AIDS day, Out at Tesco held a special event on Tuesday evening with Stonewall Scotland and the Terrence Higgins Trust.

Out at Tesco was formed in 2009, born from a single poster placed on a Tesco office wall. Today, with over 3,500 members, we are one of the largest LGBT+ network in Europe. One of our core objectives as a network is to help our colleagues understand the issues and challenges facing the LGBT+ community and last night’s event was a great opportunity for colleagues to come together and learn more about an issue that still unfortunately has a lot of stigma attached to it.

Listening to Clive King from the Terrence Higgins Trust speak about HIV and AIDS in our country, I was quite struck by the positive tone he took. Clive was telling us about their ‘Can’t pass it on’ campaign, raising awareness of the fact that somebody who is HIV positive, and is taking all the necessary medication, can’t pass the virus on. Not everyone knows this, so it’s enormously important that as many people learn this as possible. While there is still a lot of work still to do, the Terrence Higgins Trust believe that with the recent medical advances and continued education, it is possible to get to zero HIV transmissions in the UK in the next decade.

It was also great to hear from Caroline Gillwood of Stonewall Scotland. Caroline told us a little about all the fantastic campaigns that Stonewall run, as they work to empower individuals, change hearts and minds and help institutions to transform themselves into inclusive organisations.

And here at Tesco, that’s what we want to be. Tesco Bank strives to be an employer where everyone’s welcome. As an active member of Out at Tesco, I’m really proud of the long-term relationship Tesco has with Stonewall as a Global Diversity Champion. Not only does this mean that we support the brilliant work Stonewall is doing, but it also means that they closely scrutinise our business, to ensure we are doing everything we can for our colleagues.

It’s good for our customers too – by raising awareness of the issues faced by the LGBT+ community in our workplace, we put ourselves in a better position to understand the needs of our LGBT+ customers and the things that make even a small difference for them – it’s all tied in with Tesco’s purpose: serving Britain’s shoppers a little better every day.

World AIDS Day is important because it reminds the public and government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.

Tuesday's event gave us an opportunity to explore these issues in greater detail, in a safe space, with colleagues. I was very proud to have the opportunity to take part in this event and to share my thoughts and feelings about growing up and coming out as a gay man against the backdrop of fear and uncertainty created by the rise of HIV, and thank every colleague who took the time to come along, and to those who shared personal stories from their own experience. I hope that one day, by continuing to raise awareness and educate people on this terrible virus, we can one day eradicate it for good.

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