Challenging HIV Stigma


An innovate collaboration between Scottish Youth Theatre, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC), a BAFTA winning writer and people living with HIV, has produced four short films challenging stigma and prejudice about HIV within healthcare settings.

The scripts, written by David Cosgrove, are based on the words and real life experiences of members of the HIV Patient Forum in the Brownlee Centre on the Gartnavel campus, and performed by young actors aged between 18-21 years under the direction of Fraser MacLeod from Scottish Youth Theatre.

My involvement in the project made me realise how big a topic this is and that HIV-related stigma is still a huge issue that needs to be addressed. I feel I’ve grown both as a person and as a performer through the development process. Theatre is the perfect vehicle to spread this important message and I hope more projects like this will become available in the future.

Scarlett Randle, performer, 18 years old, from Aberdeenshire

John Barber, Brownlee’s Peer Support and Patient Engagement Manager, explaining why the videos were made, said: “We live in era where the HIV virus can be controlled. Effective treatment means those living with HIV can have a near normal life expectancy, plus the same treatment can dramatically reduce the chance of onward transmission."

“However, poor knowledge and misconceptions surrounding exactly how the virus can be passed on still persist. This means that HIV can evoke fears, prejudices and negative attitudes. As a result many people living with HIV experience stigma and discrimination. Unfortunately this often reported as occurring within healthcare settings. This is unacceptable. This work forms an early part of a campaign which NHSGGC is rolling out across all of its sites to tackle HIV stigma."

Fraser MacLeod, Director of the project and Associate Artistic Director of Scottish Youth Theatre, said: “Creating challenging and innovative work is at the heart of what Scottish Youth Theatre does. Our young actors are very proud of this project and extremely happy to be working with the Brownlee Centre to challenge and raise awareness of the important issue of the stigma faced by many people with HIV."

“As Scotland’s national youth theatre, Scottish Youth Theatre always strives to develop partnerships across communities, highlighting the importance of theatre in developing social awareness and responsibility. Throughout the development process, Scottish Youth Theatre’s young actors aged 18-21 worked with BAFTA winning playwright David Cosgrove and myself, as well as with service users to examine case studies and explore attitudes."

“David Cosgrove also wrote the script for Scottish Youth Theatre's critically acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe show Now's the Hour about young people's views on the Independence Referendum. I strongly feel that the Brownlee Centre project has helped our young people to develop as performers but also as responsible and informed citizens."

The films will form part of an ongoing larger programme of work underway to tackle this issue within NHSGGC services and can be accessed via the YouTube account.


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