Tag Archives: history

Harry to take on Princess Diana’s cause by making fight against HIV a priority.

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Prince Harry is to follow in the footsteps of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales and make the fight against HIV a major part of his public work.

Harry is to speak at an international Aids conference in South Africa next month and will carry out other high profile events including meeting doctors and nurses caring for HIV-positive patients in South London and visit an innovative sexual health service.

His decision has been welcomed by HIV charities and organisations who have said his involvement with the issue will help shine a spotlight on the “epidemic” of people contracting the virus.

Diana was the first member of the royal family to have contact with a person living with HIV.  In the late 1980s when many still believed the disease could be contracted through casual contact, she sat on the sickbed of a man with Aids and held his hand.

Princess Diana and Barbara Bush Above meeting people with HIV/AIDS at an AIDS clinic at Middlesex Hospital in 1991.

Both publicly and privately she supported the work of those helping patients, with late-night trips to east London’s Mildmay HIV hospice.

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Princess Diana visited LASS in November 1991 and is deeply impressed by our work. Her visit is used to launch the ‘Famous Friends of LASS’ initiative, with over 60 celebrities signing up to offer their voice and support for people living with HIV.

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Harry’s charity Sentebale already focuses on supporting HIV positive young people in the African nation of Lesotho but the prince now aims to spread the message to his generation that the fight against HIV has not yet been won, Kensington Palace has said.

The Prince hopes to convene leading figures in this sector and support their vital work in ensuring that everyone – and young people in particular – get the help they deserve, his office added.

Diana was the NAT’s patron from 1991 until her death in 1997, supporting the policy and campaigning organisation which attempts to inform opinion.

Deborah Gold, the organisation’s chief executive, said: “I think the focus on HIV in the UK has moved but it continues to be an issue with rising numbers every year – getting attention on that gets more and more difficult.

“I think Prince Harry really focuses on that and will help to draw attention to that. It’s something he genuinely cares about and his charity Sentebale has been work with this for 10 years.”

She described the numbers of people contracting the virus as an epidemic, with the latest figures from Public Health England showing in 2014 there were an estimated 103,700 people living with the disease in the UK, with 17% of these not aware of their infection.

In 2014 almost 85,500 people were accessing HIV treatment and care, more than double the number (41,157) in 2004, and a 5% increase on 2013.

Ian Green, chief executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “We warmly welcome Prince Harry’s commitment to helping tackle the HIV epidemic here in the UK, and look forward to working with His Royal Highness to tackle stigma, increase testing and prevent HIV transmission.”

He added: “Incredible medical progress has been made in HIV treatment over the last 20 years, but attitudes and awareness of HIV haven’t kept up with these advances.

“The devastating impact of HIV stigma cannot be underestimated – it is a well known barrier stopping people getting tested and onto effective treatment, as people fear reactions from friends, family, colleagues and their community, should they test positive.”

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We will lose the battle against #HIV without #LGBT decriminalisation!

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We have made huge progress in the fight against HIV/Aids in the last few decades, but there are still significant challenges. Communities most affected by the virus – sex workers, transgender people, men who have sex with men (MSM), and gay men – still face stigma and discrimination. Global infection rates have not fallen as much for these people as they have for the general population.

Article via The Guardian
guardianlogoIn fact, MSM and gay men are 19 times more likely to be infected with HIV than the general population. HIV infection between MSM and gay men ranges from21% in Senegal, to 13.5% in Nigeria and 16% in Kenya.

Transgender women (people who are born as men but identify as women) carry the biggest burden of the virus, being 49 times more likely to contract HIV. UNAids understands this and has been encouraging the increased involvement of trans people in the fight against HIV.

Many will argue that risky behaviour is the main cause of the high rates of infection among the MSM, gay, trans and sex worker communities. While it is a factor, these people face so much stigma and discrimination that it can be challenging for them to access the healthcare they need.

When I was diagnosed with HIV in 2004, I was afraid to start treatment despite working in the field for more than three years. I was afraid because of the shame, the stigma and the discrimination. Even when I moved to the UK, I could feel the pressure of the stigma I carried with me from Nigeria. – 

In 2000, the International Aids Conference in Durban provided a turning point in the fight against HIV/Aids. Jeffrey Sachs, a world-renowned professor of economics and senior UN adviser, gave a moving call for the creation of a global fund for Aids. The following year, funding and political connections were secured and The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria was formed. This single act of putting money in the mouth of the political dragon changed the landscape of the global HIV epidemic.

At that time, 28.6 million people were estimated to be living with HIV, yet just 690,000 (2%) of them were receiving treatment through anti-retroviral therapy (ART). By 2014, the number of people living with HIV had risen to almost 37 million, but nearly 15 million people (40%) had access to treatment. By mid-2015, 15.8 million people were receiving ART, meeting and exceeding the millennium development goal.

Now we know that we can treat and manage HIV, our biggest challenge in the fight against the virus is people’s reaction to those living with it. This must be addressed as the International Aids Conference returns to Durban in July.

The increasing criminalisation of LGBT people – especially in African countries – puts people’s lives at risk as they pursue sexual pleasure. Of the 52 countries in Africa, 35 criminalise same-sex relationships, with penalties ranging from five to 14 years’ imprisonment. Efforts to decriminalise LGBT people’s relationships and lives must be at the forefront of discussions in Durban. We do ourselves a disservice if we think the battle against HIV will be won without a global call for decriminalisation.

The continuous global criminalisation of sex work also needs to stop. Sex work is work is not just a slogan, it is the reality for men and women who sell sex, and they too need a safe work environment.

There must also be an increased focus on sensitive and humane care and support for people living with HIV inAfrica – this is the only way we will drive the epidemic down further.

Aids 2016 should also be the place where discussion around pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for the most affected populations moves away from talking shop to action. We must not leave Durban without a proactive policy and a process of implementation for PrEP for the sex worker, trans , MSM and gay communities. It has been shown that if taken correctly, PrEP will work. Now is the time to take a bold step and provide access to those who need it, and follow in the footsteps of organisations such as Amsher and MSMGF, which work hard to make access to treatment a universal right.

As we prepare to return to Durban to discuss “Access equity rights now”, we need to commit to ending stigma and discrimination, including eliminating legalised discrimination. Until we do, HIV prevention and treatment will not be accessible or equitable for all.

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Magic Johnson – The Announcment

“The Announcement” (Documentary: Tomorrow night on BT Sport 1 (Sky: 413 / Virgin 530).  Magic Johnson narrates a powerful and moving documentary about his announcement in 1991 that he had the HIV virus.

Magic Johnson is a retired American professional basketball player who played point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA).  After winning championships in high school and college, he was selected first overall in the 1979 NBA Draft by the Lakers.

He won a championship and an NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in his rookie season, and won four more championships with the Lakers during the 1980s

After a physical before the 1991–92 NBA season, Johnson discovered that he had tested positive for HIV.  In a press conference held in November, 1991 he made a public announcement that he would retire immediately and stated that his wife Cookie and their unborn child did not have HIV, and that he would dedicate his life to “battle this deadly disease”.  He went on to play on the 1992 gold medal Olympic Team and said he considered a comeback, but was disheartened when other players said they were scared they would contract the virus from his blood.

At the time, November 1991, his decision to announce his diagnosis to the world was considered exceptionally brave, since HIV/AIDS was heavily stigmatised to a greater degree than today.  Magic’s campaigns were pivotal in demonstrating to the world that the risk of infection was not limited to a specific creed of people.  Magic stated that his aim was to “help educate all people about what HIV is about” and teach others not to “discriminate against people who have HIV and AIDS” and when Johnson announced he had the virus, people started to realise the disease could – and was – affecting anyone.

The announcement became a major news story in the United States, and in 2004 was named as ESPN’s seventh most memorable moment of the past 25 years.  Many articles praise him as a hero, and former U.S. President George H. W. Bush said, “For me, Magic is a hero, a hero for anyone who loves sports.

After announcing his HIV status he created the Magic Johnson Foundation to help combat HIV and later, diversified the foundation to include other charitable goals.  In 1992, he joined the National Commission on AIDS, but left after eight months, saying that the commission was not doing enough to combat the disease.  He was also the main speaker for the United Nations (UN) World AIDS Day Conference in 1999 and has served as a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

Twenty years on and the former NBA great still devotes much time and effort to raise money for research and is an inspiration to many.  He remains a living face for HIV education and activism and for many, is an inspiration to HIV positive individuals and their friends and families.

He said he never considered not coming forward with the details of his diagnosis, because he wanted to be a face to help de-stigmatise  the virus and raise awareness for the less famous or privileged victims dying daily.

Johnson is still reportedly in good health, which he credits with Anti-HIV medicine, exercise, and a great support system.

He travels nationwide giving motivational speeches and works with public officials from the UN and international AIDS foundations to fight for policy, awareness and clinics that benefit victims worldwide. Though he says he is sometimes reminiscent of his basketball days, he is most proud of his accomplishments off the court to help fight the battle against HIV/AIDS.

Now, over twenty years after contracting a disease that was supposed to kill him, Magic Johnson is killing the disease by using his celebrity to raise millions for HIV/AIDS research.

The Announcment” is a documentary, directed by Nelson George and narrated by Magic Johnson and is Magic’s second film on HIV (The award-winning “Life Support” for HBO in 2007, starring Queen Latifah is the first).  He said, “For me, “The Announcement” is not just a look back at a fraught, unforgettable moment in U.S. history, but a vehicle for re-introducing the subject of HIV/AIDS to an audience that may not know that [people] are still getting infected and, yes, still dying from this big disease with a little name.

Article collated from Wikipedia, ESPN Films, TSN and Positivelife.

It’s worth watching and if you have BT Sport 1, set your recorder for 11:30pm tomorrow (Tues 19th) night.

Thanks for reading, let us know what you think in the comments below, or you can find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for more!

TWB  FBB

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Magic Johnson – The Announcment

Magic Johnson is a retired American professional basketball player who played point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA).  After winning championships in high school and college, he was selected first overall in the 1979 NBA Draft by the Lakers.

He won a championship and an NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in his rookie season, and won four more championships with the Lakers during the 1980s

After a physical before the 1991–92 NBA season, Johnson discovered that he had tested positive for HIV.  In a press conference held in November, 1991 he made a public announcement that he would retire immediately and stated that his wife Cookie and their unborn child did not have HIV, and that he would dedicate his life to “battle this deadly disease”.  He went on to play on the 1992 gold medal Olympic Team and said he considered a comeback, but was disheartened when other players said they were scared they would contract the virus from his blood.

At the time, November 1991, his decision to announce his diagnosis to the world was considered exceptionally brave, since HIV/AIDS was heavily stigmatised to a greater degree than today.  Magic’s campaigns were pivotal in demonstrating to the world that the risk of infection was not limited to a specific creed of people.  Magic stated that his aim was to “help educate all people about what HIV is about” and teach others not to “discriminate against people who have HIV and AIDS” and when Johnson announced he had the virus, people started to realise the disease could – and was – affecting anyone.

The announcement became a major news story in the United States, and in 2004 was named as ESPN’s seventh most memorable moment of the past 25 years.  Many articles praise him as a hero, and former U.S. President George H. W. Bush said, “For me, Magic is a hero, a hero for anyone who loves sports.

After announcing his HIV status he created the Magic Johnson Foundation to help combat HIV and later, diversified the foundation to include other charitable goals.  In 1992, he joined the National Commission on AIDS, but left after eight months, saying that the commission was not doing enough to combat the disease.  He was also the main speaker for the United Nations (UN) World AIDS Day Conference in 1999 and has served as a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

Twenty years on and the former NBA great still devotes much time and effort to raise money for research and is an inspiration to many.  He remains a living face for HIV education and activism and for many, is an inspiration to HIV positive individuals and their friends and families.

He said he never considered not coming forward with the details of his diagnosis, because he wanted to be a face to help de-stigmatise  the virus and raise awareness for the less famous or privileged victims dying daily.

Johnson is still reportedly in good health, which he credits with Anti-HIV medicine, exercise, and a great support system.

He travels nationwide giving motivational speeches and works with public officials from the UN and international AIDS foundations to fight for policy, awareness and clinics that benefit victims worldwide. Though he says he is sometimes reminiscent of his basketball days, he is most proud of his accomplishments off the court to help fight the battle against HIV/AIDS.

Today, Twenty years after contracting a disease that was supposed to kill him, Magic Johnson is killing the disease by using his celebrity to raise millions for HIV/AIDS research.

The Announcment” is a documentary, directed by Nelson George and narrated by Magic Johnson and is Magic’s second film on HIV (The award-winning “Life Support” for HBO in 2007, starring Queen Latifah is the first).  He said, “For me, “The Announcement” is not just a look back at a fraught, unforgettable moment in U.S. history, but a vehicle for re-introducing the subject of HIV/AIDS to an audience that may not know that [people] are still getting infected and, yes, still dying from this big disease with a little name.

Article collated from Wikipedia, ESPN Films, TSN and Positivelife.

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Freddie Mercury: Rock Star, Legend, Legacy!

An artist who needs no introduction is Freddie Mercury, the Queen vocalist and solo performer extraordinaire who, for many, will go down as the finest rock front man of all time.

Born Farrokh Balsara, the singer changed his stage name upon joining the group Smile – which featured Roger Taylor and Brian May – in 1971. Altering the name to Queen and added bassist John Deacon, the group released their self-titled debut album in 1973 to little fanfare, instead making a true breakthrough with third album ‘Sheer Heart Attack‘ in 1974, which featured the UK number two charting single ‘Killer Queen’. All that was to be superseded however with the following year’s ‘A Night At The Opera’ which featured mega selling hit ‘Bohemian Rhapsody‘ which went on to spend nine weeks at the top of the UK Single Charts and also earned the band their first top 10 hit on the US Billboard Charts.

From there the rest was history, with the band eventually releasing 18 number one albums and 18 number one singles with estimates on complete worldwide albums sold ranging 150 million to a staggering 300 million copies.

Though the band as a whole were superb, a lot of acclaim has always fallen on the charismatic Mercury, an opera-trained singer whose stunning range, combined with his extroverted on stage theatrics made him one of the most-loved stars in music, with notable performances including two shows at Wembley Stadium, London for Live Aid in 1985 and on what would amount to Queen’s final tour in 1986.

Freddie Mercury still influences the music scene like no one else of his time. In 2009, he was voted “the biggest rock singer of all time”, by the readership of ‘Classic Rock‘ magazine. The ‘Rolling Stone‘ lists him on rank 18 of the greatest singers in history. Freddie Mercury will never be forgotten and he was right when he said: “I won’t be a rock star. I will be a legend.”

Fans wishing to hear new material from Freddie should brace themselves for a treat as new posthumous material is due to be released next year.  Queen‘s Brian May and Roger Taylor have revealed they’re in possession of recordings by Freddie Mercury singing with another legendary artist: Michael Jackson.  The Jackson estate has granted Taylor and May permission to work with the material, recorded in 1983 at Michael’s house. At the time Queen were touring America.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the sad death of Freddie Mercury.

Freddie Mercury caught HIV in 1987.  Back then, HIV treatments were not as effective as they are today and he eventually died of AIDS.  Although the media was full of speculations about his state of health for a long time, he admitted to having the disease on 23rd November 1991.   Within 24 hours after this announcement, he had fallen into a coma and passed away.  He died of pneumonia in consequence of his HIV infection. He did not live to see the Olympic Games in 1992, which he composed the official anthem ‘Barcelona’ with opera singer Montserrat Caballé.

As one of the highest-profile victims of AIDS, Freddie Mercury’s death drew greater media awareness of the virus and started the fight to remove the stigma, discrimination and prejudice from a disease which could affect anyone.

Yes Freddie, you were a rock star, you were a legend, and now you’re a legacy! Thank you Freddie. We love you.

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Gaddafi’s HIV Shakedown

Zakia Saltani has been warned not to talk to the press. She doesn’t care. She has waited 13 years to tell her story, and the Libyan government’s threats can’t stop her now. “After what happened to my family, what more can they do?” she asks. “I am beyond fear.”

At her friend’s house in Benghazi, with the red-black-and-green flag of the anti-Gaddafi rebellion spread proudly across her shoulders, she shows a framed photograph of her son, Ashur. He died of AIDS-related complications in May 2005, when he was 8. He had been one of more than 400 Libyan children who were admitted to the Al Fateh pediatric hospital in Benghazi 13 years ago with routine complaints like colds and earaches. They left with HIV. Like Ashur, roughly 60 have since died. Others are hanging on.

Until the Feb. 20 liberation of Benghazi by anti-Gaddafi protesters, the regime was able to bully people like Saltani into silence. Meanwhile, the government blamed the outbreak on five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor at the hospital, falsely accusing them of deliberately infecting their young patients, and sentencing them to death. The medics were finally released in 2007, but not before the regime had extorted an Eastern European debt-forgiveness package and roughly three quarters of a billion dollars in supposed compensation and health-care assistance, together with a civilian nuclear-development deal and a “very good military accord” (in the words of Gaddafi’s British-educated son Saif al-Islam) with the French government “and other confidential stuff we shouldn’t discuss on the record,” the smiling Saif told NEWSWEEK at the time.

Now Saltani and other ordinary Libyans are starting to speak out at last. She says this is the first interview she has ever given—and her anger against Muammar Gaddafi and his 41-year dictatorship begins to spill out. “On Feb. 2, 1998, we went to the hospital because Ashur had a fever and a cough,” she says. “He was 4 months old, and we stayed two days. We went back two weeks later for the same problems.” Shortly afterward she took her 5-year-old daughter, Mouna, to the same hospital with a high fever. Mouna also went home with HIV, although at the time Saltani had no way of knowing that either child had become infected.

The truth began to emerge a few months later. “In October we learned that the doctors were hiding something,” Saltani recalls. “They said there was something in his blood that they couldn’t identify. The head of the hospital told us not to say anything. When we found out it was HIV, the government told us the infection originated from outside Libya, and that it only affected 10 kids. Another doctor even tried to convince us that it wasn’t HIV, but tuberculosis.” When the families finally discovered just how many children had been infected, the regime sent many of the patients to Italy for analysis and treatment.

Foreign medics made useful scapegoats—and lucrative hostages.

Even then the regime still did its best to cover up the outbreak. Mohammed El Agili, 20, says he was 8 when his parents took him to Al Fateh for an eye operation in March 1998. Three days later he returned, still dizzy from the procedure. When rumors of AIDS swept through the city, he underwent HIV testing, along with all the other children who had been admitted to the hospital in early 1998. The result came back positive. “When I found out, I ran shouting through the streets like a lunatic,” says his father, Mahmoud. “And we made sure the government heard our cries. Gaddafi invited all the families to a tent in the desert outside Sert, saying he would give us whatever we wanted, but we had to keep quiet. ‘We don’t want foreigners to become involved in this,’ Gaddafi told us. ‘We don’t want this to get out of Libya.’ He warned us that our relatives outside Libya would be in danger if we talked. We were afraid. We had to keep quiet.”

The news blackout may have suited Gaddafi’s purposes, but it didn’t help young Mohammed deal with insensitive classmates. They bullied him until he finally gave up school at 12. A rabid fan of the Real Madrid football team, he now helps his brother run a mobile-phone shop near their house. Asked about his future, the HIV patient smiles at the question’s naivete. “My generation doesn’t think about the future,” he says. “Even without this disease, Gaddafi has destroyed all our futures.”

Although the cause of the outbreak remains a mystery, outside studies implicate poor hygiene at the hospital rather than any of the conspiracy theories that abound in Libya. According to a 2002 report by Italian medical investigators, all the infected children had received intravenous fluids, antibiotics, steroids, or bronchodilators, but no blood or blood products. Saltani says she found it hard to accept the regime’s allegations against the hospital’s foreign medical workers. “At first I didn’t believe it was them,” she says. “The Palestinian doctor and the Bulgarians had always taken good care of the children, but everyone was blaming them, so we believed it. We wanted to confront them face to face, but the government wouldn’t let us.”

Still, the foreign medics made useful scapegoats—and lucrative hostages. The ransom Gaddafi received for freeing them enabled him to pay the victims’ families roughly $1 million each, helping him to buy a little more silence. For 41 years he has controlled the country through a combination of violence, intimidation, and strategic payoffs. To test the regime’s limits on free speech was to risk imprisonment, torture, and death. And old habits persist, even in liberated Benghazi, where anti-Gaddafi rallies occur daily. The current director of Al Fateh Hospital, who was working there as a doctor when the infections took place, refuses to speak as long as Gaddafi holds sway in Tripoli.

Just before Saltani’s interview, her phone rings. The caller is Ibrahim El Oraibi, the representative who deals with the regime on behalf of the HIV families. She puts it on speakerphone so a reporter can hear. He screams at Saltani for violating the government’s gag order. “If Tripoli finds out, they will get angry and will stop sending AIDS medication to Benghazi!” Oraibi shouts. That could be a death sentence for Saltani: she herself contracted HIV from breast-feeding Ashur. Doctors say it’s a thing that happens only rarely, but it can happen. She has been taking antiretroviral drugs for a year, and has only two months’ supply left.

But she refuses to back down. “I don’t believe anything Gaddafi says anymore,” Saltani tells Oraibi. “I have been quiet for 13 years and I’m tired of it. I want to fight.” The intermediary pleads: “Don’t talk until we receive the medicine.” Saltani is unmoved. “Gaddafi needs to go—and you can go with him,” she says. “I’ve been waiting 13 years and I’m not going to wait any longer. He’s a liar, and I’m going to talk with whomever I wish.”

She hangs up on the caller and begins her interview.

Original Article by Mike Elkiin at The Daily Beast (March 2011)

Further reading: HIV Trial in Libya (Wikipedia)

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The following video is a Documentary by Mickey Grant about the Bulgarian Nurses in Libya.  It’s titled “INJECTION – AIDS, How Gaddafi and Son murdered over 400 Libyan children”.  Gaddafi used the possibility that he was executing these nurses partly because he was angry at having to pay the several billion dollar settlement to the families of the Pan Am Lockerbie Terrorist act he was responsible for.  In effect, he told behind the scenes negotiators that he wanted that same amount of money and was even willing to sale the oil exploration rights for 1 billion.

He also wanted the prisoner released in Scotland who was convicted of planting the bomb that blew up the Pan Am plane.  He stated that if this was done, he’d release the nurses and Palestinian doctor.  BP gave him the billon and hired lawyers and “others” to engineer the release of this terrorist.

The only newspaper that covered this was the Financial Times.

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Lords Warn About “Woefully Inadequate Government Policies On HIV/AIDS

A House of Lords Select Committee today published a damning report on HIV in the UK, warning that the current priority given to HIV and Aids treatment by policy makers is ‘woefully inadequate’, and revealing that over 100,000 people in the UK will be living with the disease by next year. The Lords Select Committee on HIV and Aids in the UK also warned that the total cost of treatment would soon top £1 billion per year, and called for all new patients at GPs’ surgeries to be tested for the illness on an opt-out basis.

As the Select Committee published its report, the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) released a new plan to help policy makers deal more effectively with HIV. THT said that the plan, ‘Tackling the Spread of HIV in the UK’, would help to bring down the disease’s transmission, and reduce the financial burden on the NHS by concentrating on four actions: halving undiagnosed and late diagnosed infections within three years; increasing the number of people living with HIV taking effective treatment from half to two-thirds in three years; identifying people who persistently take risks that expose them to HIV, and supporting them to change; and increasing HIV awareness.

The Terrence Higgins Trust said it would continue to campaign within the gay community.

THT’s Executive Director of Health Improvement, Genevieve Edwards, told So So Gay she was sure that it was possible to reduce transmission by improving early diagnosis and awareness. ‘Increasing the number of people on treatment is quite do-able, if you think that a quarter of people with HIV aren’t diagnosed,’ she said. ‘Many of those people have already gone past the point at which they should receive treatment. If we can start people on the right treatment sooner, that would go an awfully long way to achieving the target.’

Edwards welcomed the Lords’ recommendation that new patients at GPs’ clinics should be tested on an opt-out basis, especially in areas where infection is more common. ‘This has been done in ante-natal screening, and that’s been one of the big successes in the UK. Very few babies are born with HIV as a result of that campaign, because women who are diagnosed with HIV during pregnancy can be offered the right sort of treatment. So when you’re in an area of high HIV prevalence, this makes sense.’


The Lords Select Committee launched its report to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the iconic ‘Don’t Die of Ignorance’ campaign, which was run by the Committee’s Chairman, Lord Fowler – as the then Health Secretary. As the report was published, Fowler pointed out that although HIV was now more survivable than it was in the 1980s, it remained a serious problem and not enough was being done to improve awareness; one recent survey had found that a quarter of young people had received no information about HIV in the classroom.

‘In the last 25 years the development of new drugs has dramatically reduced the death toll,’ he said. ‘But that should not encourage a false sense of security. Serious medical and mental health problems remain for many with HIV. People can now live with HIV, but all of those infected would prefer to be without a disease which can cut short life and cast a shadow over their everyday life.’

Edwards echoed Fowler’s warning about the consequences of infection, but warned against a return to ‘Don’t Die of Ignorance’ style scare tactics. ‘Our evidence shows that scare tactics – not just for HIV, incidentally, but for all public health areas – don’t work. People tend to look away, or immediately think it’s aimed at someone else. So while that sort of direct campaign in the 1980s was hugely influential, it wouldn’t have the same impact today. We’ve learned that we need to find different ways to get that message across.

‘Of course, we have to be absolutely clear about the reality of living with HIV in the UK. Treatments have come a long way, and they’re enormously better than they were. But it’s not without consequence. I think we’re very clear about that. On the one hand, you don’t want to scaremonger; but you have to balance that against being honest about the realities.’

Fowler agreed, and said that improved treatment alone would not help. ‘Prevention must be the key policy,’ he added. ‘One essential message remains the same as in the 1980s: the more the partners, the greater the risk. Protect yourself. Use a condom.’

Original Article by Andy Wasley at sosogay.org

LASS offer a completely free and confidential rapid HIV test and you’ll get the results within 60 seconds from a simple finger prick test.  We use the Insti HIV test produced by BioLytical laboratories.  The test is 99.96% accurate from 90 days post contact for detecting HIV 1 and 2 antibodies.  Appointments are not always necessary, if you would like a test, please contact us on 0116 2559995

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