Terrence Higgins Trust “disappointed” that Iceland Chairman has yet to apologise for his company “weaponising HIV”

Graham Robson September 22, 2023

Iceland’s Executive Chairman, Richard Walker OBE, recently wrote a comment piece for Mail Online about the dangers currently faced by supermarket workers in which he falsely claimed three Iceland shop workers contracted HIV as a result of needlestick attacks while at work.

On Thursday, September 21 this claim has been removed with the update: Since this article was published, Iceland have clarified that they provided information to Mail Online in error regarding staff being infected with HIV and the article has been revised accordingly.

Sexual health/HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust has since circulated a comment from its Chief Executive, Richard Angell, who spoke to Mr Walker and, while Terrence Higgins Trust welcomes the line being removed, the charity believes it’s appropriate to publicly acknowledge the falsehood and the fact that Mr Walker has yet to apologise.

Richard Angell

Richard Angell, Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “As soon as we saw Richard Walker’s claim that three employees at Iceland supermarkets are HIV positive as a result of needle attacks, we knew it wasn’t true. HIV doesn’t not survive for long outside the body and we are unaware of any cases where someone contracted HIV as a result of a needlestick attack – let alone three people at one supermarket chain. We immediately contacted Iceland’s media team and yet it is only now, six days later, that the claim has been removed and a correction added to the article.

“It is so important that the line has been removed as it is highly damaging in terms of perpetuating HIV-related stigma and entirely misrepresents the transmission risk of needlestick injury or attack. We were determined it would not remain online for more people to see, but it’s disappointing Mr Walker won’t properly apologise for a falsehood and how his company sought to weaponise HIV in a completely unrelated story.”