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Registered Charity 1129416

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 © Tagadere

Registered Charity 1129416

December 2017

On World AIDS Day 2017 we are still in the dark ages

Polling company YouGov surveyed 2,049 British adults to discover that 20% of those polled would feel uncomfortable wearing a simple red ribbon which has been employed since 1991 to show support, solidarity and compassion for people living with HIV/AIDS.

One third of the people surveyed stated that by wearing the red ribbon they would not want other people to think that they had HIV or AIDS.

One in five British adults said that they would feel uncomfortable wearing a red ribbon.

The survey illustrated that from those respondents who said that they would feel uncomfortable wearing a red ribbon, 34% said they would not want others to think they had HIV or AIDS.

These numbers would perhaps contain people who will joyously enter cake-baking competitions to support people living with other conditions and enter marathons clad in the coloured ribbons associated with that cause,  yet when it comes to HIV/AIDS there remains a chronic amount of ignorance.

How stupid are these people?

Is it simple stupidity or a blanket ignorance due to a desperate lack of information?

It is all very well for Ian Green, the CEO of the Terence Higgins Trust stating that he wants to ‘stamp out HIV stigma for good’ but as we arrive at World AIDS Day 2017, one could wonder about the continued lack of a THT-commissioned prime time television HIV information advertisement campaign for UK television. Surely it cannot be a lack of finances?

After all, albeit following some pressure, even the dreaded Thatcher government allowed the now-legendary ‘tombstones and icebergs’ AIDS campaign for prime time television broadcast.  (See also ‘Not In Front Of The Children’ on this website)

Despite new figures released by Public Health England which showed an 18% drop in the number of newly diagnosed HIV+ people from 2015 to 2016 it seems that the simple piece of folded red ribbon has not banished the ignorance, stigma, paranoia and fear which was so prevalent in the latter years of the 20th century.

Click image to view 1987 television health announcement video.

World AIDS Day 2017

There have been many films and documentaries made about the global devastation wreaked by AIDS.  Based on Randy Shilts’s acclaimed and controversial book of the same name, the 1993 film ‘And The Band Played On’ remains one of the most contentious accounts of the beginnings of the pandemic when the urgency of identifying the health crisis was of paramount importance and activists and health professionals were faced with blatant disinterest and prejudice from the Reagan governmental administration departments who held the purse strings.

Over the past decades the advancements in HIV medication and treatments have been enormous and to watch this film in 2017 brings a stark, blunt  reminder of how it was in the early days of AIDS and the challenges faced.

This film is free to watch courtesy of YouTube:

Nottingham St. Peter’s Church WAD 2017 service

The traditional World AIDS Day service will be held at 1.00pm on Friday 1st December at St. Peter’s Church, St. Peter’s Gate, Nottingham NG1 2NW and will be led by led by the Reverend James Saxton.  All are welcome.

Free HIV learning resources packs for teachers

‘We want young people to have a better understanding of the realities of living with HIV and to know how to protect themselves from infection.’

This statement comes from the National AIDS Trust who are offering free learning resources for teachers in order to educate and inform young people about HIV.

There are many  downloadable files; more information is available on the NAT website:

Call for participants: members of the public who have accessed and read research publications.

Have you accessed and read medical research for your own personal health reasons or on behalf of a family member or friend?

Are you a parent or member of the public who has accessed and read educational research?

Would you like to take part in a research project exploring open access to research publications outside academia? You can find out more about the project here and see the whole ‘Call for Participants’ here.

Emily B. Nunn is interested in hearing about your experiences, and opinions on widening access to research.

You would be asked to take part in a face-to-face interview for around one hour (although it could be longer or shorter if you wish). You should be based in the UK, and if possible, I will be able to travel to interview you at a place of your choosing. If this is not possible, some interviews may be conducted over Skype. The interview data will be anonymised, and analysed as part of my PhD thesis, and any journal articles, book chapters and conference proceedings which result from the thesis.

If you are interested in taking part, please email me at and Emily will be in contact to arrange an interview.

This project has been granted ethical approval by the University of Sheffield.

June 2017

HIV survey results

In April 2016 we featured details of a survey being conducted by The Department of Health Sciences from The University of York which asked people living with HIV the question ‘Were you aged 50 or above when you received your HIV diagnosis?’

The concusions of this extensive research are now available and can be viewed by clicking here.

May 2017

‘The Truth About HIV’ BBC 1 documentary

On Thursday 25 May at 9pm on BBC 1 there will be a programme ‘The Truth About HIV’.

The preview clip shows Prince Harry stating ‘Imagine if we could create a movement where everyone goes and gets tested’.


Patients recalled for tests following doctor’s HIV diagnosis  

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust has contacted 223 patients who were treated by an unnamed locum doctor who worked at Nottingham City Hospital between 2013 and 2015.  Dr. Stephen Fowlie, Nottingham's medical director said the doctor had treated patients and then subsequently been diagnosed with HIV.

An investigation is under way following an interim suspension order imposed on the doctor by the GMC (General Medical Council) earlier this year.  The NHS said that it would not name the doctor but could confirm that they were no longer employed by the NHS.

Hospital officials advised that there is a small risk that patients who had been treated by the doctor could have HIV and will host emergency clinics where concerned patients will be able to access blood tests.

Dr. Fowlie stated: ‘The risk that any patient has been infected by transmission of the virus from this doctor is extremely low. However, because the doctor’s diagnosis was unknown during their employment with us (2013 to 2015), we are contacting patients who had had at-risk operations involving this doctor to advise they return to hospital for a blood test as a precautionary measure.

Transmission of the virus between an infected healthcare worker and a patient with an open wound can only occur if health workers themselves have an injury with bleeding when they are delivering patient care.  There is no evidence this happened to this doctor in any patient contact.

We are arranging clinic appointments, test results within 24 hours, and appropriate support and advice from our specialists for these 223 patients and their families.  Patients’ siblings and friends have no cause for concern and no other patients have cause for concern.”

Dr Stephen Fowlie

Medical Director


A helpline is available on 0800 0152804 for anyone who is concerned.

April 2017

During 2015-2016 Professor Liz Walker and Caroline White from the University of Hull carried out a research project called Positively Different which explored young adults’ experiences of HIV diagnosis and of living with HIV in the previous five years.

A brief summary of the research findings has been produced which is available to read by clicking here.

February 2017

Nottinghamshire Rainbow Heritage free event

ONG Rainbow Heritage 2017.jpgn Sunday 5 February David Edgley of The Nottingham LGBT+Network & Rainbow Heritage presents a free event ‘Nottingham: Centre of the LGBT Universe’ from 7.30 until 9pm at The Space, Nottingham Contemporary, High Pavement NG1 2GB.

As Nottingham’s home-grown HIV support group, Tagadere were extremely honoured in 2014 to receive an award ‘In recognition of the many years of invaluable work provided by this user-led self help support group for people living with HIV in Nottinghamshire’.

At that celebratory event, Nottinghamshire Rainbow Heritage’s Master of Ceremonies stated to those old enough to remember and to the younger LGBT attendees (for whom it must have been difficult to appreciate the cataclysmic effects of the AIDS crisis in the early 1980s) that it was those challenged gay communities which rallied to assume the enormous responsibility of organising care and support in the face of an overwhelmingly destructive health crisis which was decimating global gay populations with terrifying speed.

AIDS was not only a health crisis, it was also an attack on civil liberties which many had fought and campaigned for.  The intolerance and head-in-the-sand approach by international governments and various religious groups fuelled tabloid homophobic reports which pointed the incorrectly judgemental finger of ‘blame’ at gay men.

The free event is presented in association with the Rights and Justice Priority Area and Nottingham Contemporary and all are welcome to attend.

January 2017

‘Charity is a coat you wear twice a year’

TGeorge Michael smile.jpghe death of global megastar singer George Michael on Christmas Day 2016 at the age of 53 was undoubtedly a shock of earthquake proportions for his fans whilst being regarded as the latest name augmenting a seemingly endless catalogue of what had become known by the newsworthy soubriquet of ‘2016 Celebrity Deaths’.

It was inevitable that with undisguised glee the rumour mill hacks pounced as this latest loss created the opportunity for acres of physical copy and online updates of rumour and speculation.

Simultaneously, the legions of less visible bedroom keyboard warriors and judgemental bar room experts threw barbed spears of predictably ignorant homophobic insults and clichéd references to HIV/AIDS onto multiple social media platforms; heartlessly dropping offensive comments beneath clips of the singer’s work which were available to view on YouTube.

Amid the sadly trite array of salacious gutter-press stories, the facts of George Michael’s previously anonymous philanthropy began to surface like bubbles of benevolence rising to the top of a grimy, scum-covered  lake of hearsay, rumour and unreliable anecdotes about his private life.

The fact that two of George’s previous partners had died of AIDS soon began to add to the circles of speculation which were spinning without any sign of stopping; a growing list of ‘admissions’ bolstered the whispers concerning George’s drug use problems and surmise surrounding his HIV status; especially an easy target as he had previously stated that he did not want to take an HIV test as he preferred not to know whether he was HIV positive or not.

In December 2011 he had been hospitalised in Austria with a pneumonia infection from which he had only just survived.  A few days before Christmas that year, George made a brief appearance for news reporters where he appeared visibly and audibly weak as he stood before a glowing Christmas tree to breathlessly answer a barrage of questions.

Pressed further about the infection George replied ‘streptococho-something, which is a form of pneumonia…and they spent three weeks keeping me alive, basically.’

Evidently emotionally exhausted he apologised for the brevity of the interview which he found difficult due to the tracheotomy which had been performed upon him. There would undoubtedly have been raised eyebrows in certain media quarters when, upon hearing George’s attempt to pronounce Streptococcus pneumoniae would have recognised it as one of the many opportunistic infections which are particularly challenging to people living with HIV.

OGeorge Michael Santa Monica Observer headline.jpgn December 29 the website of the Santa Monica Observer had published a headline stating ‘Singer George Michael Succumbs to HIV/AIDS at 53, at Home in England’ yet as 2016 drew its final curtain the post-mortem report was ‘inconclusive’.

Increasingly, hitherto unannounced information of George Michael’s anonymous financial donations to many charitable organisations began to shine in articles announcing his financial succour of large high-profile charities as Childline and Macmillan Cancer Support.

To balance donations to such visible charities, eventually reports of his donations to smaller HIV/AIDS charities and organisations appeared.  It was evident that HIV was an issue which George considered high on his list of charitable priorities as he had previously publicly spoken about the pain attached to losing a partner to an AIDS-related illness.

In 1991 an ambitious initiative was spearheaded by Vernal Scott to create a national vigil to display the reality and human aspect of HIV/AIDS.  The ‘Reach Out and Touch’ project was to be a vigil complete with floral procession.  The financial cost of converting an idea into reality would be £20,000.  Vernal Scott, who was Head of HIV Services in a London borough at the time, approached many celebrities of the day to assist financially and although they were very supportive of the proposal, they were less forthcoming with hard cash.

Only one person stepped up to the plate and delivered the goods: George Michael.

‘My absolute hero…he gave me every penny that I needed, and more.  However he asked me to keep his name secret….It was entirely funded by George Michael’

Vernal Scott

‘Reach Out and Touch’ creator

and author of ‘Against All Gods: A London Memoir’

George Michael’s financial support of this project enabled it to fulfil its ambitions on Sunday 15 September 1991 when an estimated six thousand people assembled in Hyde Park before the proceeding to Trafalgar Square for the Reach Out and Touch Vigil.  Flowers were inserted into nets and then lifted to create a huge floral wall as the remaining flowers where spread out as a huge carpet.  Speeches and the backing of a gospel choir complimented these unique floral statements representing love, loss, hope, compassion and unity.

In 1991 this HIV/AIDS project was only possible by the generosity of George Michael.

It is without doubt that over the years the substantial altruism of a wealthy global celebrity has helped many others less in a less fortunate position and therefore enabled myriad fledgling ideas and plans to grow to produce cohesive outcomes.

On his 1990 single ‘Praying for Time’ (1990), George Michael astutely observed that for the majority of the nation, ‘Charity is a coat you wear twice a year.’

George Michael was a super star in many less visible ways.

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