Sussex students dressed as giant pills to raise AIDS awareness

Brighton has the highest recorded levels of HIV/AIDS outside of London

On December 1st, Sussex  Youth Stop AIDS took to the streets of Brighton dressed as doctors and giant pills in a city-wide game of Where’s Wally?

The spectacle was part of the Missing Medicines campaign , which is a protest against a global medicines system that leaves millions of people unable to access the life-saving medicines they need. The event also marked World AIDS Day.

Locals were encouraged to join in with the fun stunt by finding the pills and taking photos, with a prize incentive being offered for the best snapshot.

Speaking to The Tab, Guy Wilson, Youth Stop AIDS Campaigner, said: “Our stunt is a fun way to show a serious problem. If you’ve ever played Where’s Wally?, you’ll know how frustrating it is when you can’t find him. Imagine what it’s like not being able to access the life-saving medicines you need – that’s the situation facing millions of people around the world.

“The atmosphere on the day was good, lots of people were out Christmas shopping and thought our stunt was funny.

“We got some confused and bewildered looks but mostly smiles! Quite a few people stopped to chat and tell their own stories and there was a lot of good will and interest once people realised what we were doing.”

Sussex Youth Stop AIDS would like the UK government to meet at the World Health Organisation in spring 2016 to agree to reforms for the research and development of essential drugs to combat AIDS and other neglected but deadly diseases. They argue that the medicine system is broken, spending more on those treatments which are most likely to make the profit, such as cures for baldness or erectile dysfunction, rather than focusing funding on deadly diseases.

Peter Kyle, a Labour MP for Brighton and Hove, has confirmed his support for the Missing Medicines campaign.

James Cole, President of Sussex Youth Stop AIDS, said: “The current system for developing new medicines limits competition and innovation which means vital HIV/AIDS drugs are either too expensive or simply ‘missing’ for most patients.

“There is also a lot more that we want to do locally. Brighton has the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS outside London and 1 in 4 people in the UK with HIV/AIDS don’t know that they have it.

“There are lots charities in Brighton raising awareness and doing great work and if we can we want to support them too.”

Tabitha Ha, Youth Stop AIDS Coordinator, said: “Never before has there been an opportunity like this to fix our global system. Just a small amount of investment and cooperation is all that’s needed to save the lives of millions of people worldwide.”