Tag Archives: World AIDS Day

The Survivors

When they were diagnosed, HIV/AIDS was seen as a death sentence: the Grim Reaper. But medical science eventually found ways to hold AIDS back. Long-term survivors, some now feeling a survivor’s guilt, recall preparing to die – and remember the many who did.

Jay Whitehall was just 18 and mourning the death of a friend in The Peel, a gay pub in Melbourne, on a cold winter’s day in 1991. He had been HIV positive for about two years. He was distraught and thought he was going to die.

AIDS had been ripping through gay communities worldwide since the first reports in 1981 of young, gay American men dying of causes usually associated with the elderly or bone marrow transplant patients – rare cancers, pneumonia, catastrophic bodily failure. Treatments were toxic as hell, and no one was expected to last more than five years after diagnosis.

Whitehall’s head was dipped to the ground in despair when a drag queen he didn’t recognise – and he thought he knew all of them – appeared before him. She was tall – really tall, he says – with blonde hair, draped in a light blue dress which sparkled in the pale light.

The drag queen grabbed Whitehall by his shoulders, forcing him to look at her. She said, “HIV is the best thing that ever happened to me – I’ve lost three inches off my hips, four inches off my waist and I feel f****** fabulous!” She performed a high kick and leaned in to tell the mesmerised teenager: “Don’t ever take HIV seriously or it’ll f****** kill you.”

“It helps keeping a positive outlook and not letting the Grim Reaper get into your head.”
“It was a really good thing for me to hear,” says Whitehall, now 44, who muses if the mysterious drag queen who disappeared so quickly was an angel. He took her advice to heart and his health has been good since – swollen glands occasionally, which he attributes to stress. “It sounds tacky, but it helps keeping a really positive outlook and not letting the Grim Reaper get into your head.”

The outlook for people with HIV improved dramatically in 1996 with new drugs called protease inhibitors, following 15 years of devastation. The treatment helped raise T-cell count – a measure of immune system strength – clear of the range where death was a matter of when, not if. People with HIV began living longer.

“You could see – he was really skinny, he looked really unwell.”
Australian health experts even announced an end to the AIDS epidemic in July. “AIDS as a public health threat is over,” Professor Andrew Grulich, of the UNSW Kirby Institute, told Fairfax Media, adding, “Our treatments are so good that most people recover. You get tested early, you get good treatment and people can live a pretty normal life.”

But a generation of long-term survivors from the pre-1996 days – who never expected to live more than a few years – is now approaching retirement, and they face not just the challenges of ageing, but of ageing with HIV. Many will tackle physical and mental health issues, from decades of drug therapies, which are only just being acknowledged

IN THE DARKEST days of the epidemic when hope was absent, people would just drop out of sight. David Crawford, who thinks he became HIV positive in 1984, managed the AIDS ward at Sydney’s St Vincent’s hospital in the 1990s. He says you didn’t see them become sick. One close friend he knew in the 1980s was studying to be an ambulance officer. Crawford figured that was the reason for months without any contact. Then they met by chance at Redleaf pool at Sydney’s Double Bay.

ore than 30 years of living with HIV: David Crawford.

“He didn’t have to tell me what happened,” says Crawford, now 61, talking in a meeting room at Positive Life NSW, the support group for people with HIV, where he works as treatments officer. A box of tissues sits on a chair from the last counselling session he held here. “You could see – he was really skinny, he looked really unwell. I guess that was obvious in my response, the shock.”

“You werent expected to live. You might as well make the most of the life you had.”
He took his own diagnosis calmly. His mother catastrophised everything, leaving him level-headed. He could have blown his inheritance on a bucket-list holiday – plenty did – but instead studied to be a nurse. A fellow student died of AIDS 12 months into the course.

Crawford still ponders why he knuckled down to a career. “I think it came from my dad,” he says. “He said, ‘Don’t follow the sheep. Do your own thing. Make your decisions and follow them through. Don’t be swayed by anybody else.’”

Jane Costello was given three years to live, 22 years ago.

Jane Costello, the 55-year-old president of Positive Life NSW, knows at least 20 long-term survivors eking out a living on social security after blowing their savings and pensions shortly after diagnosis. “You weren’t expected to live,” says Costello, who tested HIV positive in 1994. “You might as well make the most of the life you had.” She was given three years; her husband, who is still alive, less than a year.

One hospital was nicknamed The Morgue: “Once you went in, you didnt come out.”
Crawford would party at Mardi Gras, have a fantastic time, then return to the ward to discover five patients had died that weekend. He cared for Tim Conigrave, who finished his acclaimed memoir Holding the Man there, and his lover John Caleo before their deaths. “There was a roller-coaster of emotions,” he says.

“People were dropping dead like flies,” recalls Whitehall. One Melbourne hospital was nicknamed “The Morgue”, he says: “Once you went in, you didn’t come out.”

Fear and discrimination of people with HIV were widespread, even in the gay community. “Some people would say ‘we don’t really want you here’,” says David Menadue, a Melbourne writer and activist, who was diagnosed aged 32 in 1984. “That was in a gay bar! They got over that, they worked out you couldn’t catch it casually and oppress your own like that. It was a hairy time.”

Californian Tez Anderson set up grassroots group Let’s Kick ASS, to highlight the plight of long-term survivors, which held its third annual awareness day in June. Chapters are springing up across America, and he tells SBS that he’s received an enquiry from Australia.

He remembers his own diagnosis in 1986. He left the clinic and walked up the street and everything was so electric, the sky bluer than it had ever been, the birds louder and the flowers on the hill such a vivid yellow – a hyper-awareness he now recognises as shock.

“It took a lot longer to get my head around the idea that I might well be an old man with HIV.”
Anderson was given two years to live and he began living, he says, like a dying man. “I was going to be the best dying man in the world.” He bought books on dying and went to classes and tried to accept that as a 26-year-old he would not celebrate his 30th birthday. “It took a lot longer to get my head around the idea that I might well be an old man with HIV,” he says. “A long time. I thought I might have maybe five years. We didn’t know. We were the first ones to have this shit.”

He remembers being at a bus stop one day watching people leaving public transport. “They looked like wounded warriors,” he says. “People were in a daze. So many people you’d see on the street, healthy one day, a little bit more decrepit and sicker and sicker and then you stop seeing them, and then their obituary in the local gay paper. It was page after page after page after page of obituaries.”

It’s hard now to comprehend what a difference the 1996 medications made – Anderson refers to the “Lazarus syndrome – returning from the dead to walk again”. Some were even resistant to the very idea of a future, refusing to take drugs which could keep them alive. “It’s almost like ‘I’ve decided what’s going to happen to me’,” says Menadue. One man told him, “I was planning for an early death.” “That was going to be his release. He thought he’d have nice drugs and float off into the ether and everything would be fine.”

Anderson speaks of being “perplexed by survival” and of “AIDS Survivors Syndrome”, a condition he coined after years of anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation. He was watching a show on Iraq War veterans and post-traumatic stress disorder when he realised that explained how he felt; that living through unrelenting decades of being swamped by death was similar.

“‘We went through a holocaust. And we’re meant to put it behind us and pretend it doesn’t exist.’”
Melbourne man Daniel Cardone recognised the same pathology when shooting a documentary, about long-term survivors who moved to the Californian desert city of Palm Springs to recuperate, which screened at this year’s Melbourne Queer Film Festival. Desert Migration features voice-overs of loss and trauma over tranquil images of mundane beauty: the purpling mountains on the near horizon, a stop sign at the corner of Sunny Dunes and Dunes, a hummingbird’s delicate sip of nectar. Each testament adds to a tapestry of a generation’s obliteration.

“The most immediate thing I learnt from making this was how much unresolved grief people still carried with them, literally post-traumatic stress disorder,” says Cardone, diagnosed in 1995, who moved to Palm Springs in 2010. “And it was really not being acknowledged. The mental health fallout from the epidemic is unparalleled and untreated. As Doc, one of the men in the film, says, ‘We went through a holocaust. And we’re meant to put it behind us and pretend it doesn’t exist.’”

Anderson spoke this July about AIDS Survivor Syndrome at an international AIDS conference in South Africa and launched a social media campaign under the hashtag #WhatAIDSSurvivorsNeed. Someone contacted him via Facebook saying he had no idea there was a name for what he was going through, that he wasn’t alone. “He said you just saved my life,” says Anderson, via Skype, blinking back tears. “It was so lovely.”

“A lot of people sold everything and then suddenly they survived.”
He wants an ongoing conversation moving from survival to one of healthy ageing and recognition of survivors. A 2016 study in New York City suggests 26 per cent of people with HIV are long-term survivors, he says. 

JANE COSTELLO SAYS many long-term survivors are suffering and living in poverty. “We’ve got that whole ‘End HIV by 2020’ thing,” she says, referring to a national health campaign aimed at producing no new cases by the end of the decade, “and you go, okay, but it’s not saying much about the people living with HIV. That’s about ending transmission… A lot of people sold everything and then suddenly they survived.”

Survivors can face physical and mental challenges. Menadue has had to change medication 14 times since he began treatment in 1989 as the virus became resistant to them. “They were toxic,” he says, “affected my kidneys and liver. They stripped so much fat off my arms and legs – I never managed to get it back.”

“No one dies of HIV anymore, but HIV plays a role in their deaths.”
Even 1996’s game-changer of triple combination therapy introduced fresh risks, raising rates of heart disease and osteoporosis. (Those who began treatment after 1996 may not develop such chronic conditions as long-term survivors, though Crawford believes there will be some negative impact on long-term health.)

Menadue has four major co-morbidities – medical complications – with his HIV, including diabetes and osteoarthritis. In the last few years he’s had cancer, a knee replacement, a shoulder replacement and an ankle fusion.

“No one dies of HIV any more,” he says, “but HIV plays a role in their deaths.” He adds, “If you have a decent T-cell count, you’re probably not going to die soon unless you get run over by a bus.” But people “are experiencing lots of frailty from 55 up, even a bit earlier in some cases. People really have a body of a person 15 years older.”

“I’m faced with premature ageing now.”
One drug led to Crawford developing peripheral neuropathy, destroying nerves in his feet so he couldn’t walk. They also caused diarrhoea within half an hour of ingestion and pancreatitis. There was a months-long spell of reactive arthritis earlier this year. He has short-term memory problems caused by the virus replicating in his brain.

“Even though the drugs [now] are really effective, we still live with these really low levels of inflammation,” he says. “When you’re dealing with long-term inflammation, the risk for heart disease is higher.” There could be problems with other organs, such as the kidneys and lungs. “I’m faced with premature ageing now, I’m possibly experiencing some things I’d be experiencing at 70 or 75 now because I’ve been diagnosed so long.”

David Crawford says Positive Life’s research shows 45 per cent of all those with HIV are coping well. Another 40 per cent have a few problems – he puts himself in that bracket – and another 15 per cent are “doing it tough”.

David Crawford, David Menadue and medications taken by another person living with HIV.

Associated mental health issues are depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety and substance abuse – the latter an area swamped by the recent explosion in crystal meth use, but which includes alcohol and tobacco. Costello says some people stop taking their medication, an act known as “passive suicide”.

One of the biggest issues for those newly infected with HIV is how – and whether – to disclose their status to friends, family and lovers. Long-term survivors have different challenges, says Menadue: “How are you living with the various chronic conditions that you’ve got? What kind of support do you need? People are concerned about being frail in the future. What aged-care options are there?”

Women face extra challenges, says Costello. Drug trials have mostly been conducted on men, who represent about 90 per cent of those with HIV in the West.

“Women with HIV generally experience menopause earlier.”
“This means they’ve no idea on how [current treatments] affects women’s bodies,” she notes. That doesn’t mean the drugs aren’t achieving – hopefully – their purpose, of diminishing the viral load and increasing the CD4 count, but the long-term effects are unknown.

The unknowns multiply with age. “With menopause they have no idea,” she says. “Women with HIV generally experience menopause earlier. We don’t know how hormone replacement therapy interacts with the drugs.” Women are also more susceptible to problems with bone density as they age.

Costello feels blessed to have lived longer than her initial three-year prognosis. Instead of wondering whether feelings of ill-health might lead to her body’s immune system being overwhelmed – she’s stayed in relatively good health – she now wonders if joint pains in her knees might be the first sign of decline.

There is care for people who prematurely age, though it’s not thought any planning is under way for old people with HIV – An estimated 73,660 people nationwide were living with the condition in 2002, of which, 12%, or 3,640, were over 50 years old.  By 2011, however, this figure had increased to 22%, or 16,550, even rising to as high as 35% in Brighton.

“Young people don’t understand it. They’ve never seen someone die of AIDS.”

Menadue, and others, think the stories of long-term survivors aren’t being told. He says more could be done to encourage the 50-plus cohort to monitor their health. He praises HIV organisations for their support, but adds, “I do get the message sometimes that we don’t want to give too many negative messages about the awful bits of living with HIV because it’ll freak out the young.”

Whitehall has had unsettling encounters with younger gay men over his status. He was told to “shut up you stupid old c*** and die a slow AIDS death” by a 19-year-old he argued with online. “Young people don’t understand it,” he says. “They’ve never seen someone die of AIDS.”

He also recalls a university student in his 20s – “really good looking, a really smart young man” – wanting sex without a condom, so he could become HIV positive. (He told Whitehall, “It’s like having my man living inside me.”) “They have no grasp of what HIV and AIDS is and what it did to people. So many people died.”

Desert Migration closes with an inky night falling over the city. Backlit clouds race across the moon. Day breaks with a great yellow rind over the horizon, and life goes on. “I don’t even think about my survival any more,” says Whitehall. “I’ll probably die around 70 like my dad did.”

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Russian TV presenter hopes revealing his HIV status will promote tolerance

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Russia is struggling with an HIV epidemic, but you could be excused for thinking that the problem did not exist at all. Sex education and HIV and Aids prevention are not topics for schools, and public service advertising and media coverage is rare. Even many healthcare professionals prefer to avoid the topic.

But while Charlie Sheen-style HIV revelations by celebrities are also unheard of in the country, this week a television presenter, Pavel Lobkov, declared that he was HIV-positive during a live broadcast on TV.

Story via
guardianlogo

Lobkov and activists said they hoped that his statement, broadcast by the small independent channel TV Rain, would jump-start public discussion about the issue, as the number of new HIV cases sky-rocketed.

“It’s not the done thing to talk for real [about HIV], and in Russia it’s a real problem,” Lobkov said. “Maybe after this shock there will be a discussion about what these medicines are, and are there enough doctors specialising in this, is their knowledge adequate to treat HIV infections?”

Lobkov said during the broadcast that he had discovered he had HIV in 2003 while working for the NTV channel. Immediately after he was diagnosed his doctor refused to treat him, telling him he was being excluded from the NTV insurance programme.

Since then Lobkov had had trouble finding treatment for mundane conditions. He said it took him about a year to find a dentist willing to perform an implant procedure after several told him his HIV status would cause complications, despite research showing such concerns to be baseless.

According to Lena Groznova, an activist at the HIV-prevention group Andrey Rylkov Foundation, such ignorance about HIV is common even among healthcare workers, due to the lack of public service information. She said public perception of HIV was outdated and associated the condition with a “quick death”. Widespread disapproval of gay relationships and drug use also played a role.

“Few people from the general population know that a therapy exists that allows people to support their [HIV] status. Even among specialists we run into, police, doctors, have a stigma and fear of HIV people that doesn’t match the threat, which is none,” Groznova said.

Lobkov said several doctors had contacted him in recent days to tell him about HIV-positive patients who did not seek treatment or register for state-provided medicine for fear that their infected status would have a bad impact on their professional and personal lives.

Russia is one of the few countries where the number of HIV cases is rapidly growing. According to the federal Aids centre, at least 986,657 Russians were officially registered as HIV-positive as of 1 November, and the number of new cases had risen by 12% this year.

A consumer oversight agency official in St Petersburg said last month that Russia faced an HIV epidemic. But while the government has increased spending to treat Aids, state policy on fighting HIV has focused on abstinence from sex and drugs, rather than harm reduction programmes.

A message from the Ryazan city government for World Aids Day on Tuesday declared that “even one single sexual contact, even one dose of drugs, can cause HIV infection”.

The state-run Russian Strategic Research Institute said in a report, in October, that rather than adopting western methods, Russia needed to develop an HIV and Aids prevention programme to “reflect real national interests”.

Opioid substitution treatment with substances such as methadone, which aims to help users gradually lose their addiction and is frequently used in the west, is illegal. The Andrey Rylkov Foundation is one of the few groups that hands out clean needles and condoms to at-risk groups such as drug users.

Although the Moscow city Aids prevention centre recently began an advertising campaign around the slogan “Friendship doesn’t transmit HIV”, it was not enough, Groznova said.

Lobkov said: “The government can fight social phobias, it should have information campaigns on tolerance, acceptance. If there will be tolerance, people will go do [HIV] tests, then they will go [to] therapy, and the epidemic will start to die.”

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Leicestershire pledges to halve late HIV diagnoses by 2020 with Liz Kendall, Jon Ashworth & Keith Vaz

Halve It Leicester

HIV Test Week is nearly over, and you’ll be forgiven if you think that HIV testing is just for one week since most of its publicity lasts for only a week in November leading up to the celebrated World AIDS Day on December 1st every year.

While HIV Test Week draws attention to the need to get tested for HIV, World AIDS Day is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died.

This morning, Leicester City Council together with local MPs; Liz Kendall, Jon Ashworth and Keith Vaz united with LASS, Trade and other voluntary sector partners to sign the ‘Halve It pledge’.

The national pledge commits Leicestershire to halve late HIV diagnoses by 2020.

HalveIt-Pledge

The sooner HIV is diagnosed, the sooner appropriate care can begin. Thanks to anti-retroviral combination therapy, the life expectancy of someone living with HIV has increased markedly. Today, an individual diagnosed with HIV at the age of 35 years, with prompt access to effective treatment, can expect to live a normal life span.

HIV continues to be a serious health condition in the UK.  Here are some of the recent statistics:

  • An estimated 103,700 people are living with HIV in the UK.
  • Of these, around 17 per cent are undiagnosed and do not know about their HIV infection.
  • There were 6,151 new HIV diagnoses in 2014.
  • Two-fifths (40 per cent) of people diagnosed with HIV in 2014 were diagnosed late, after they should have already started treatment.
  • Just over one in four people (27 per cent) living with diagnosed HIV is aged 50 years or over.
  • There has been a 2 per cent decrease in testing at sexual health clinics over the last year but opportunities to test in the community and at GPs and get a home sampling kit have increased.

Around 17% of people who have HIV don’t realise they have it, and it’s very likely that untreated HIV will be passed to other people.  That’s why it’s important to get tested so we can halve the amount of people who remain undiagnosed, (why not have a HIV test)?

Halve It (halveit.org.uk) is a coalition of national experts determined to tackle the continued public health challenges posed by HIV. Their goals are to halve the proportion of people diagnosed late with HIV and to halve the proportion of people living with undiagnosed HIV.

The Halve It campaign calls upon all levels of government and their agencies to ensure that HIV is a public health priority both locally and nationally, they are asking the government to:

  • Fully implement National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) public health guidance on HIV testing.
  • Support the delivery of the Public Health Outcomes Framework (PHOF) by ensuring that local health organisations are equipped to realise the benefits of early detection of HIV.
  • Offer incentives to test for HIV in a variety of healthcare settings, for example through the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) and Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) frameworks.
  • Ensure that people diagnosed with HIV have access to any retroviral therapies (ARTs) to prevent onward transmission in line with the joint recommendations of the Expert Advisory Group on AIDS (EAGA) and the British HIV Association (BHIVA).
  • Ensure quality-assured (ie CE marked) self-testing kits for HIV when available, are integrated into local HIV testing strategies along with home sampling kits.

To find out more about the campaign download their position paper here

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Shooting Challenge: Week 4 Winner & Week 5: “HIV Testing Week”

Contrast, by Jenny Hand

 

Congratulations this week goes to Jenny Hand who’s photo this week received the most votes.  As World AIDS Day is approaching, Jenny said she wanted to include the symbol of the day and decided to contrast it against the white of a sperm keyring she has.  Well done Jenny!  Her image will be added to the winners of this and the next 3 Shooting Challenges where an overall winner will be decided and a prize given.

Poisoned Apple, by Zoe Van-De-Velde

Poisoned Apple, by Zoe Van-De-Velde

Our other entrant this week is from Zoe Van-De-Velde, featuring a biblical theme with Eve biting into the forbidden fruit and a green ribbon representing the snake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEEK 5: HIV Testing Week!

Our theme this week is slightly different, in that we’re not specifying a particular photographic technique to use.  If you’ve been following our shooting challenge you’ll see we haven’t had many entries and that’s ok, it is of course for fun and we feel that some people may be put off by adhering to a photo technique.  So this week, to encourage more entrants, you can use whatever technique you like!  HOWEVER, in keeping with our ever present HIV and Sexual Health theme, we would like you to photograph “HIV Testing”

Nat Tst Wk 2014 GREENIt’s currently HIV Testing Week and LASS are planning a number of events in Leicester to mark it’s third anniversary.

National HIV Testing Week was established by HIV Prevention England in 2012, in a bid to reduce high levels of undiagnosed and late-diagnosed HIV among gay and bisexual men and Africans in England. In 2013, there were an estimated 1250 people living with HIV in Leicester & Leicestershire, one in five of whom remain undiagnosed and therefore more likely to pass the virus on unwittingly.

You do not need to be a photographer to join into this competition (and if your a student of the art, we’d love to see your ideas and pictures)!  Almost everyone has a camera on their phone, everyone is capable of taking photographs – we’d like to tap into this, get creative with the gear you already have, it’s not about the tech, it’s about YOU!

THE BRIEF:

Simply photograph anything you feel is related to a HIV Test.  You could be literal, conceptual, funny, clever, thought provoking, depressive, emotive, sexy, it’s all about what you can come up with, and who knows, you could win!

THE EXAMPLE

 

by Tom Robson

“I’m Testing” by Tom Robson & Chaz Ram

Clearly, you can see this shot didn’t take a lot of time, there are creases in the background, the colour is very slightly off and not all of the scene is in focus.  Yet you can still see elements of clinical procedure here, perhaps the aftermath of a test, (or failed test as there is no blood in the test tube)*

There’s no technique this week and this example demonstrates you can create a photograph using objects around you.  Sure, at LASS we have the advantage of latex gloves, a test tube, rack and a plaster and we’re sure you’ll be able to find items around the home or provide a much better image than this one so why not give it a try?  Tom & Chaz decided upon and shot this image within 2 minutes to demonstrate it doesn’t take a lot of time to get your picture, once you have your idea.

*(LASS Rapid HIV Tests do not need test tube amounts of blood, it’s a simple finger prick)

THE RULES:

  • Follow the brief
  • Send your best photos by 6PM on Sunday 30th November 2014 with “Shooting Challenge” in the subject to photography@lass.org.uk and we’ll announce the winner on World AIDS Day, (1st December 2014) as we set the theme for next week’s shooting challenge.
  • Submissions must be your own work.
  • Photos must be taken after the challenge was published; so no existing shots please.
  • Explain briefly in your submission email the equipment, settings, technique used and the story behind the image/images.
  • We will of course credit you so if you have a website or twitter handle, let us know! – If you’re happy for us to use the images elsewhere on our site – do let us know!
  • Save your image as a JPG, and use the following naming convention FirstnameLastnameEasy.jpg
  • Anyone can enter, regardless of camera gear, or location!
  • The most important rule — HAVE FUN!
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Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves

Beginning on Monday 2nd December to mark World AIDS Day and continuing on the following two Monday evenings, BBC Four is to screen the multi-award winning Swedish drama Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves, telling the story of the AIDS crisis as it hit Stockholm’s gay community in the 1980s.

The series gripped Sweden, united the LGBT community and is credited with an increase in awareness about HIV and AIDS. The programme was named as Sweden’s Best Drama at the Kristallen Awards. This year, its author, Johan Gardell was named Sweden’s LGBT person of the year and was presented an award by Swedish Crown Princess Victoria.

DEWTWG

Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves is a 3 part drama series about love in the shadow of AIDS, set in Stockholm in the 1980s.

When Rasmus and Benjamin meet at a party they fall instantly and deeply in love. For a short time their happiness continues until suddenly young men start to get sick, fade away and die. AIDS has come to Stockholm and nothing will ever be the same.

The series has been acquired for BBC Four by BBC’s Head of Acquisitions, Sue Deeks, who says: “This is a beautifully realised drama about the early years of the AIDS epidemic which has a poignant and affecting love story at its heart – we are so pleased to be able to bring it to BBC Four viewers.”

Set in Sweden, the series was a huge public and critical success when aired and it recently won the Kristallen (Swedish Emmy) for Best Television Drama. Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves also won the Audience Award at the Series Mania Festival in Paris last April, in competition with American TV dramas such as Game Of Thrones and House Of Cards.

It is directed by Simon Kaijser and written by renowned author Jonas Gardell, after his series of books with the same title. It is an in-house SVT production with Maria Nordenberg as executive producer.

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A special message from our international patron, Desmond Tutu on World AIDS Day

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, LASS’s International Patron has sent a special video message from Cape Town to mark 1st December, World AIDS Day, for LASS.

“God, you love us all especially those of your children who suffer. We think at this time on Worlds AIDS Day of those who have HIV/AIDS. Help them not to despair, help those who work to combat this pandemic. Thank you that it is reducing. May those who are ill take their treatment regularly”

-Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu (November 2013)

LASS is a service user and volunteer charitable agency which works to prevent the spread of HIV and to promote positive sexual health through education, training, and community initiatives. By working together with other agencies, we play a major part in developing a coordinated response to the challenges of HIV/AIDS. We provide support for HIV positive people and HIV education and awareness across the communities.

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Messages of Support from David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband

Messages of support from David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, the leaders of the three largest political parties in the UK.

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