- During 2019, I spent some time in Canada. There, I met with Deni, Chris and Lori of ACNS (AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia). We had fascinating conversations, including contrasting the experiences of living with HIV in Canada and the UK. And I had the honour of meeting Joe Average, the well-known artist and HIV activist. Winning many awards and honours over the years, Joe was commissioned to design a new coin commemorating the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Canada, and was invited to meet Prince Charles and Princess Diana during their Vancouver visit for Expo ’86.
- I was invited to become a Patron of Man Cove Wellbeing, founded by the amazing Owen Morgan after he created an introductory video to Ripples from the Edge of Life.
- The findings of the GLAAD 2020 State of HIV Stigma Study in the USA found that only half of American adults feel knowledgeable around HIV and that high levels of perceived stigma around HIV still exist. This corresponds with the findings of the UK survey I commissioned in 2018, where 62% of the 2,000 people surveyed wrongly believed that there is a cure for HIV and 21% of respondents said they would no longer be friends with someone who told them they are HIV+.
- It’s always a pleasure to be interviewed for magazines, podcast and radio shows, including:
Volunteering has become a way of life for me since my diagnosis with HIV. I will continue to volunteer and even expand on it.
Volunteering for the Terrence Higgins Trust over the years has been particularly rewarding. As part of their work, THT carry out many community projects. Positive Voices is one, being a team of volunteers, including me, talking about our personal experiences of living with HIV. You can listen to one of them here.
Other organisations I enjoyed volunteering for include Positively UK as a peer mentor, and Queer Britain, the national LGBTQ+ permanent museum, as a guide for the family exhibition in 2019.
I’ve also been a Board member for the London AIDS Memorial Campaign, the National Long Term Survivors Group and for Disability Rights UK.
Writing and Publicising my Book
Writing Ripples from the Edge of Life was both necessary and cathartic. When you’ve received a life-changing diagnosis, it hits you hard. You and your family are suddenly faced with a whole new set of circumstances to deal with. It’s a huge mental adjustment to come to terms with. You need to make a complete shift in your thinking and attitude, which takes time.
I’m lucky to be alive. So, of course, my story had to be told. Thirteen other people contributed their own similar stories that enrich this book, providing hope for many.
The book launch was held at the London Canal Museum in 2018, which was a very enjoyable event. Since then, I’ve attended many book shops for signings; gave 30 copies to Wandsworth Oasis to sell as part of their charity endeavours in supporting people with HIV, and to educate people about living with HIV; and delivered readings in many places. Notably, the Polari Literary Salon at the Southbank, Chiswick Literary Festival, Gays the Wordand the Birkbeck Institute for Social Research.