Pride has always been important to Terrence Higgins Trust, ever since we started our work 40 years ago. We were set up in 1982 following the death of our namesake Terry Higgins. He was the first named person to die of AIDS-related illnesses in the UK – everything we do is in his name.
I was 28 when I went to my first Pride event (I was a late starter!) It was in 1994 at Brockwell Park in London. I went with a group of friends – it was incredible to see so many LGBT+ people in one place. We danced, celebrated and remembered those we’d lost much too soon to the HIV epidemic – including many of our friends.
The LGBT+ community has been at the forefront in the fight against HIV – from the first cases of HIV in the 1980s to today. Demanding action while others looked away – the advancements we’ve made would not have been possible without their contributions. Looking back on how much we’ve achieved and giving thanks to those whose shoulders we stand on is a vital part of Pride.
That’s why during Pride month, and every month, we shout about the life-changing message that people living with HIV who are on effective treatment – like me – can’t pass it on to their sexual partners. There’s far too many people both within and outside the LGBT+ community that aren’t aware of this fact.
Condoms, access to reliable testing and PrEP have revolutionised HIV prevention – there are more options than ever available to help you stay HIV negative. The progress we’ve made in the fight against HIV is one of the biggest successes of modern medicine – transforming an HIV diagnosis from a death sentence to a manageable long-term condition.
Pride is also about looking forward to what is left to do. It isn’t just about rainbows, parties and parades, it is a time to take meaningful action for and with the LGBT+ community and reflect about what more we can do to help those who need it most.
For four decades, the trans community have been some of the loudest voices in the fight against HIV. We're utterly appalled at the treatment of this community in the UK. The transphobia we see today is similar to tactics used historically to target people living with HIV in the 1980s and 1990s. Trans rights are human rights – and Pride is for the entire LGBT+ without exception. Terrence Higgins Trust will always stand for trans rights.
The UK Government’s decision to exclude trans people from the ban on conversion therapy is unacceptable. Many of us at Terrence Higgins Trust have seen the devastating impact of conversion therapy on the lives of LGBT+ staff and service users, many of whom are living with HIV. The Government's decision to go back on its promise to ban conversion therapy for all LGBT+ must be reversed without delay.
Our crucial work goes hand in hand with tackling inequality. The HIV epidemic has changed dramatically over the years with more women and people from racially minoritised communities being diagnosed with HIV. We're committed to dismantling the misogyny, racism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia that reinforce health inequalities – but we can’t do it alone. This Pride, I ask our supporters and allies to join us to strive for a future where there are no new cases of HIV, where people living with HIV get the support they need, and good sexual health is a right and reality for all.