In the mid-1980's I was working for South Sefton Health Authority. Based at Fazakerley Hospital in Liverpool, I was part of a small team of Health Promotion Officers who'd drive around north Liverpool in an old double-decker bus. The lower deck had been converted into a creche, while the upper deck housed a tiny clinic area and an information resource centre. For the most part, our team handed out leaflets and played videos - anti-smoking, healthy nutrition, oral hygiene, etc. One of the leaflets was the infamous AIDS tombstone leaflet intended to terrify people into using condoms to slow the spread of this rampant disease which would, it seemed at the time, lead to us all having to step round corpses in the streets.
And while people certainly have died from AIDS, (or from the treatments given to control it, especially in those early years), many who now live with the HIV virus no longer need fear an automatic death sentence. Apparently, a person with HIV can live just as long as someone without it. No-one can say exactly how long that might be, of course - you might as well ask how long's a piece of string. However, the stigma around HIV still lingers.
A friend of mine, Ali, has posted a well-written blog about his experiences of living with HIV. I encourage you all to click on the link, take the time to read it and watch the short video. Click here.