Our Aids appeal has raised £3.26m and helped challenge 30 years of stigma

Campaign provided an insight into real lives of those living with HIV

Kiran Randhawa
Friday 01 February 2019 12:31
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Sir Elton John and Evgeny Lebedev visit the Gateway clinic in Umlazi, which is backed by the singer’s charitable foundation
Sir Elton John and Evgeny Lebedev visit the Gateway clinic in Umlazi, which is backed by the singer’s charitable foundation

The Independent’s AIDSfree campaign was today hailed as having challenged “30 years of stigma” against those living with HIV as it was announced that more than £3.26 million had been raised.

As our two-month campaign comes to an end, campaigners, activists and those living with the virus said they hope it has helped change attitudes towards the infection.

Chris Sandford, who was diagnosed with HIV in the 1980s, said he wanted to thank The Independent for trying to tackle ignorance towards HIV.

“At last someone is trying to educate the public and challenge stigma, discrimination and negative media coverage,” the 71-year-old said.

The campaign, in partnership with the Elton John AIDS Foundation, launched on 3 December with the aim of getting more people tested, more on treatment, and raising money towards projects abroad, with the end goal of creating an Aids-free future.

Dr Will Nutland, co-founder of PrEPster, which campaigns for increased access to HIV-preventative treatment PrEP, said: “As well as raising funds, the campaign has raised public knowledge about issues in HIV prevention, treatment and care.”

Dr Nutland, honorary professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, added: “Knowing that millions more people know about PrEP has made the campaign worthwhile.”

Angelina Namiba, 51, who featured in our campaign after having a baby following her HIV diagnosis, said: “The reporting was factual, used language that was not stigmatising and portrayed our real lives as people living with HIV, that we are no different from other members of society, we just happen to have a virus that does not define who we are as individuals. An example of how all media should be reporting.” Ms Namiba’s child is HIV-negative.

Amanda Ely, manager at the Children’s HIV Association, added: “We hope people following this campaign in The Independent have learnt new things about HIV and what it means to live with HIV today, and how normal peoples’ lives are.

“Stigma can have a huge impact on how young people manage growing up living with HIV and leads to many keeping it hidden for fear that people misunderstand it.”

AIDSfree appeal ends with Global Summit in London

Anne Aslett, chief executive of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, praised the public’s generosity: “I have been overwhelmed by the support received from readers of The Independent, the government and our supporters around the globe. The stories shared have given a true window into what HIV is, how people live with and fight it, and why the stigma it carries must be consigned to history.” The final total for the appeal, which was supported by Johnson & Johnson, included £1.5m in funding from the Department of Health and Social Care and more than £655,000 match funding from the UK Aid Match programme.

Following the end of the appeal today, the final Aid Match donations will be verified by the Department for International Development.

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