in 1994 when I was 8 years old my Dad passed away after contracting HIV. He had haemophilia and contracted HIV through infected plasma that he injected himself to support his haemophilia and blood clotting. You might know about this as it is now referred to as “The NHS Blood Scandal” which happened back in the 1980’s. Donated blood was not appropriately screened and many people like
my Dad were infected with HIV and HepC due to the lack of screening that took place.
My dad was one of the unlucky ones, he got diagnosed with HIV 2 weeks after I was born and as the drugs and support to those infected were not as good back then as they are now he died 8 and half years later at the tender age of 37. I wasn’t aware of how or what he died of until I was 15, I remember visiting him in Mildmay throughout my childhood, he would be absent from home sometimes, when he required respite and treatment for many conditions he developed due to the HIV, I definitely didn’t understand it all back then, I just remember having the best Dad and I was the apple of his eye!
Back in the 80’s and 90’s people like my Dad who were diagnosed with HIV didn’t really have a voice, they had to tackle adversity and hatred to be heard and eventually the people of the UK and the government backed the campaign and HIV awareness and the drugs have gone from strength to strength. My Dad didn’t have a voice, his story has never been told, but now, as a very proud daughter, I will be his voice and I hope I can reach out to other people and give them courage and the strength to do the same.
Ill be up early on Christmas Day and driving around the North and East London area to pick up members of Positive East. With no transport links or friends and family these members would otherwise be spending Christmas Day alone. I will be taking them to a central location run by Food Chain in Kings Cross and we will share a wonderful Christmas Day together, I will then drop them all back home at the end of the day.
Like most of us I spend every Christmas Day eating glorious food, drinking prosecco and playing games with my wonderful family and although I will really miss that this year, I can’t think of anything
else I’d rather do this Christmas. I believe I need to step out of my comfort zone, go the extra mile if I want my voice to be heard, so on a day so prominent for us all I am choosing to be around those people who I want to support and empower. I think it will be the most humbling Christmas of all!!