MANY in the LGBT community fear a return to the “dark ages” on HIV awareness as the government's austerity programme silences key programmes, activists were told yesterday.
To many delegates at this year’s TUC LGBT conference, coalition cuts have not only meant fewer health services available for those at risk, but also a step back in social understanding of the illness.
“One of the problems I experienced in the last 28 years of being positive is basic discrimination,” said Unison representative Gerard McGrath.
He added how cuts to educational programmes have been a “prime example of the actual impact” of austerity on the LGBT community.
Another powerful account of what it meant to live with HIV-Aids in a time of little knowledge of the illness was given by shop worker's union Usdaw member Robert Ingleby.
During his speech in support of an HIV awareness motion, Mr Ingleby told conference how in the 1980s his first boyfriend passed away mere months after being diagnosed.
“I had to deal with everything on my own because we did not have the education and support and all the stuff we take for granted now,” he said, holding back tears. “I do not want to see it happen again.”
His testimony was followed by a standing ovation with many delegates visibly moved.
Conference voted unanimously on lobby national and local governments to reinvest in HIV awareness campaigns, with a particular emphasis on the emotional and financial costs of the disease.