This collection of stories offers a snapshot of what it means to be living with HIV in modern Britain.
Two important landmarks in the history of HIV in the UK will be marked in 2012. It signals 30 years since the death of Terry Higgins, one of the first people to die from AIDS in this country. Terry is the man our organisation, the UK’s largest HIV charity, is named after and dedicated to. This is also the year when the number of people living with HIV in the UK will reach 100,000 for the first time.
Thirty years ago, I was infected with HIV through contaminated blood products used in my medical treatment. It was some years later that I was diagnosed and better understood what had happened, but no treatment was available then. Life in the 1980s and 1990s with HIV was a life of discrimination, stigma, ill health and for most, an early and unpleasant death. The high profile of the condition at the time meant that it was in the public’s consciousness, either for good or for bad.
Since then, for many people in Britain, HIV is perceived to be something which has either gone away, is not relevant to them or is something that happens thousands of miles away in another country. This has never been further from the truth. There are more people living with HIV in the UK than ever before. Across the country men and women from all walks of life are living with the virus and many more are at risk of infection.
Terrence Higgins Trust has been at the forefront of supporting and helping people living with HIV for three decades. That support has changed as the epidemic has changed, from the pioneering Buddy programme of the 1980s and 1990s to the equally groundbreaking Long Term Condition Management programme of the myhiv website today; but the need for our work continues to grow and is as important as ever.
This collection of stories offers a snapshot of what it means to be living with HIV in modern Britain. It illustrates how far we’ve come and the distance we still have to go. We are hugely grateful to everyone who gave us their time and story in the hope of improving the understanding and lives of others. We hope that it will inspire you to lend your voice to theirs.
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