We asked five of our top campaigners to tell us why they are so motivated to make a difference around HIV and sexual health.
Having HIV I believe I should do everything I can to make more people aware of the ongoing situation rather than rely on other people.
I think all aspects of HIV are important but education in schools and raising awareness of the condition are particularly vital. On an individual level, having regular testing, knowing one’s own status and not being afraid to tell partners is also important.
I am very happy to partake in campaigning for THT as it helps all those who have HIV.
At University I was President of the Stop AIDS Network. We did lots of sexual health awareness, gave out condoms, and raised money for THT and international HIV/AIDS charities. When I started teaching after University my interest in HIV and sexual health continued.
I feel that HIV is very misunderstood and stigmatised in this country. I am a Biology and PSHE teacher and truly believe that most young people do not take enough care of their sexual health and particularly do not have a good understanding how much an issue HIV and AIDS are both in this country and abroad.
It can feel like you are all alone when you a re signing endless petitions and emailing your MP again, but when you see thousands of other people who feel as strongly as you do it is very empowering. I think that campaigning for good sexual health education is so vital, also availability of condoms and HIV drugs around the world and reducing sex-negative influences in health policy; so much to do!
As I was diagnosed with HIV 27 years ago when my partner was taken ill with symptomatic AIDS, I contacted THT for advice. They were very helpful and put me in touch with a ‘Buddy’ who helped to support my partner and I through a very difficult time.
Sadly, my partner of over 17 years passed away in May 1987. Thanks to the excellent care I received I lead a fairly normal life and I am a big advocate of openness and honesty about my condition. Unlike the days back in the 1980s, being HIV+ is no longer a death sentence.
I believe it is important that young people, whatever their sexual orientation, are given as much information about safe sex as possible and THT plays a big part in this educational process.
I was 11 years old when the charity first started and have been aware of THT’s campaigns and work since then. I didn’t like how people were discriminated against because they were living with HIV or AIDS. I believe in equality. I followed THT over the years, buying red ribbons for World AIDS Day.
However, I felt I could do more and got involved in campaigning through the THT website and by receiving the THT monthly e-newsletter. I started campaigning and raising awareness with politicians and the public. I believe together we have a much louder voice.
The most important issue for me is promoting better sexual health. I talk about sexual health raising awareness whenever I can. I’d like to see in the near future people talking about sexual health without embarrassment. More education and information will help to reach this goal.
I feel proud that I am helping to make a difference to people’s lives by reducing the stigma that people living with HIV can endure.
In 2004 I relocated to Gloucestershire to care for my increasingly elderly and infirm parents. My partner had died suddenly of AIDS, I had given up my job, I was struggling with my own HIV diagnosis and medication side effects and was being treated for clinical depression.
I had few local friends I could talk to and no support network. I was very excited when a new THT centre opened in Gloucester. I made many friends there and trained to be a volunteer. I think it might be hard to imagine from a London perspective how isolated and frightened people with HIV can feel in rural communities.
All issues are important but I want to fight for people now growing older with HIV. We must insist that HIV+ women and men have a voice whenever decisions are made about HIV – whether in government, local government, medical forums or charities.
Every letter and petition can make a difference. If we sit back and do nothing we will never stop all the ignorance, stigma and prejudice that is thrown at us.
Why not get campaigning?