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Diversity, Equality and Inclusion

Pridecast: Challenging the stigma and being a champion for those with HIV (with Chris Sandford)

Liam McConkey recorded this interview with Chris Sandford in mid-November 2022, for World AIDS Day on 1st December. Since that recording however, Chris has very sadly passed away. He did not die of HIV but his family and colleagues still wanted this episode to be broadcast on World AIDS Day, as a tribute to the work he did championing the rights of people with HIV across the world.

On 1st December each year, many people across the globe will stop and remember the millions who have died from an AIDS-related illness. As well as this, World AIDS Day is also a chance for people to support those who are still living with HIV and to raise awareness that much more still needs to be done to fight this illness.

There are currently around 38 million people across the world who have HIV, with more than 100,000 of those in the UK. Since the virus was first identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or an AIDS-related illness, making it one of the most fatal pandemics in human history.

On top of this, people with HIV have had to contend with the stigma of having the virus. This stigma has often arisen because of society’s lack of information on the illness or moral judgements on how someone may have contracted it. HIV is generally transmitted through sex and can also be linked to activities such as injecting drugs.

This stigma has often denied so many people a right to talk about their condition and has meant many people died with a sense of shame. However, an organisation in the UK called the National HIV Story Trust is working to give all those who have the virus and those who died from it a voice to share their experience. Chris Sandford from the National HIV Story Trust, spent over four decades campaigning for more support for those living with HIV and he is the guest for this ITV Pridecast.

During the episode Chris discusses what it was like to find out he had contracted HIV and what the stigma was like during the 1980s and 1990s. He also very movingly recalls supporting his partner who also had HIV at the time and shares the fears of a period when there wasn’t any effective treatment available.

Whilst working at the National HIV Story Trust, Chris was the Director of Education and would often go into schools, colleges and universities to create greater awareness and understanding of HIV. By sharing his story so openly, Chris made a huge difference in challenging the stigma around HIV and has undoubtedly improved the lives of so many who still live with the virus.

For more information about HIV and organisations supporting those with the virus, here are some relevant links:

NHS Overview of HIV & AIDs - the NHS website gives an overview of what HIV is, including the symptoms, treatment and prevention of the virus.

Terrence Higgins Trust - The THT provides support to anyone living with HIV and offers information on taking care of your sexual health. THT can also provide details on using PrEP, which is highly effective at reducing the risk of contracting HIV.

World AIDS Day - Since 1988, there has been a World AIDS Day every year. More information on the day and the work being done to help people with HIV can be found on its website.

National HIV Story Trust - The charity shares the stories of those who live and have died of HIV or an AIDS-related illness. They also share the stories of the families who have lost loved ones as well.

Elton John AIDS Foundation - works to overcome AIDS across the world and focuses on reaching and supporting the most marginalised people affected by HIV.

Links to listen to the episode:

Spotify

Apple Podcasts

Spreaker

Global Player

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Diversity, Equality and Inclusion