“When I was looking for primary schools for my daughter, I met with the head teacher. When I told her that my daughter had HIV she immediately sat back and physically pulled away from me. Her body language shouted at me and gave her thoughts away, with utter disbelief on her face. She said: ‘We haven’t had one of those before’ and I was horrified. She said she’d have to tell the teachers and dinner ladies. Later she said one of the teachers wasn’t happy teaching my daughter. In the end we had to find a different school and we haven’t felt able to tell the new school.” Mother of HIV positive daughter.
Despite international promises to make HIV treatment universally available to everyone in need by 2010, the UK government still denies treatment to refused asylum seekers and other vulnerable groups who have no way of paying for treatment whilst in the UK.
So it was the early 80’s and I used to read, amongst other things, New Scientist in the school library and so learned about AIDS & HIV pretty early compared to most (clearly not an intended outcome for a conservative all boys catholic school, yet science and arts were where light could get in). Then with early Channel 4 when they actually fulfilled a remit for experimental and alternative tv they showed art video, films off the beaten track and unedited debate it seemed we might address the issues with some intelligence and creativity, alas a tory government full of bigots, a tabloid press full of bigots meant that was not to be at the time. Things have moved on, but not enough. For example, did your MP sign EDM 47? Find out here (mine did). As GLH reminds me thing like needle exchange programs are a great help in reducing risk yet fairly predictably nimbys and chumps get their panic on if they hear of one in their vicinity, support exchanges and fight opposition if the issues arises in your locale. And as the above shows stigmatisation and treatment of migrants remains a huge problem, so when the govt, immgrationwatch and tabloids carry on their bigotry it also is relevant to AIDS & HIV. Wearing a ribbon is easy, being part of the solution and not adding to the problem with apathetic ignorance is more important.