Farewell to a hero of the fight against HIV

Just 17 when he found out he had the virus, Clint Walters spent the rest of his life fighting it

"I guess you could say I live life to the full – I'll do anything [rather] than have the words HIV on my tombstone," wrote Clint Walters recently.

Mr Walters, who was just 17 when he was diagnosed with HIV, dedicated his life to combating ignorance and supporting others who were struggling with the illness. In one year alone he ran the London Marathon, abseiled off South Africa's Table Top Mountain, swam with sharks, skydived, and cycled from London to Paris to raise money for charity.

But on Sunday, aged 31, he died at home in Clapham, south London. Yesterday tributes poured in to an "amazing inspiration" and a "walking talking hero, who was so humble".

"Clint just had the most incredible energy," said his friend Neil Parrett. "He was a force of a personality, impossible to resist. He was always laughing, always made you feel special. I just can't believe I am never going to hear him laugh again. He was a real inspiration, probably the nicest guy I have ever known."

Growing up in a small town near Oxford, Mr Walters barely knew about HIV and had had only two relationships when his mother took him to the doctor with breathing and chest problems. The diagnosis was devastating.

"You can't describe the pain of the diagnosis. My mum didn't even know I was gay," he said four years later.

He initially "lost all hope" but began treatment and started to regain his fitness. He was discharged from hospital in time to sit his A-levels and later travelled to San Francisco to work and study at a University of California Aids Health project. "My whole world opened up for the first time," he wrote. "I came to terms with my diagnosis and worked at several amazing agencies, learning as much as I could. I decided to head back to the UK to provide the support I never had."

Despite admitting it was difficult, even as an adult, to broach the subject of his HIV-positive status with strangers, he opted to "shout it from the rooftops" to break down the taboo, convinced that ignorance fuelled increasing infection.

In 1999, he founded Health Initiatives for Youth UK to provide peer support to young people living with HIV/Aids and started touring the country to take the message to colleges and schools, hoping his frank talks would teach teenagers to learn from his mistake. He said: "My aim has been to give the children something I never had – a young outspoken face of HIV to which they can relate."

"Rather than let it beat him, he focused on life and tried to make it better for other people in the same situation," added Mr Parrett. "He took calls from young people all over the country and people came to stay with him if they were struggling to come to terms with the diagnosis. He was completely selfless."

For years he battled in vain to get funding to set up a weekend clinic and support centre in London.

Yesterday one of his close friends, Mark Fell, said they would continue the fundraising so "his legacy can live on", adding: "He was the most amazingly inspirational person. He virtually lived on the breadline and completely dedicated his life to charity."

Mr Walters was doing well on medication and doctors were pleased about his fitness levels. He died after suffering a heart attack on Sunday. Right up to the very end, his social networking website read: "Mood: Optimistic".

Suggested Topics
News
FIFA President Sepp Blatter reacts during a news conference in Zurich June 1, 2011
news
News
people
Life and Style
food + drink
News
peopleKatie Hopkins criticises River Island's 'seize the day' bags for trying to normalise epilepsy
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

    £30 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL) i...

    Guru Careers: Account Executive

    £18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / Software Engineer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Software Engineer i...

    Day In a Page

    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

    Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

    The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

    If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
    5 best running glasses

    On your marks: 5 best running glasses

    Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
    Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

    Please save my husband

    As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
    Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

    They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

    A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
    David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

    Hanging with the Hoff

    Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith
    Can Dubai's Design District 'hipster village' attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?

    Hipsters of Arabia

    Can Dubai’s ‘creative village’ attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?
    The cult of Roger Federer: What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?

    The cult of Roger Federer

    What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?
    Kuala Lumpur's street food: Not a 'scene', more a way of life

    Malaysian munchies

    With new flights, the amazing street food of Kuala Lumpur just got more accessible
    10 best festival beauty

    Mud guards: 10 best festival beauty

    Whether you're off to the Isle of Wight, Glastonbury or a local music event, we've found the products to help you
    Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe

    A Different League

    Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe, says Pete Jenson
    Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey - Steve Bunce

    Steve Bunce on Boxing

    Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey