Community News

Walking to end the stigma surrounding HIV

Gscene Editorial Team November 16, 2019

The Martin Fisher Foundation was founded in September 2015 in memory of Professor Martin Fisher’s outstanding national and international contribution to HIV research, education and patient care.

THE charity has created a structure for continuing Martin’s achievements and inspirational vision, and to develop new strategies for effective HIV prevention and treatment. In particular the charity works collaboratively with other stakeholders to develop innovative approaches to improve access to information and services for vulnerable groups.

The team at the Martin Fisher Foundation reflected on their  year and why they chose the theme of the charity’s parade group at Brighton Pride, It was tackling HIV stigma and the message that U=U. This means that someone with an undetectable HIV viral load (meaning they are on effective treatment that has completely suppressed the virus) cannot transmit the virus to their partner. Undetectable = Untransmittable!

Members of the charity’s walking group reflect on their feelings about taking part in this year’s parade.

Pride is a huge mixture of emotions. It gives us a captive audience of people to get our message across to. It’s a real opportunity, it’s our duty to participate. We owe it to ourselves, to our peers, to the people still suffering from the stigma around HIV and to those no longer with us.

For me the excitement is always tempered by the memories of my many friends who didn’t survive the epidemic. We have to stop this virus and the stigma that surrounds it and the damage it does to people.

When I get to the park, I’m usually tired and emotionally weakened. I miss my friends that should be there and sometimes I feel very lonely. That happened again this year, except I battled through it and met a trans woman experiencing her first “out” event. We looked after each other and were joined by two HIV Peer Mentors from PositivelyUK. Between us we managed to have a fabulous evening with Kylie right through to the end.

For me Pride is a mixed bag of fun, social campaigning, sad memories and glitter. Lots and lots of glitter. Bring on Brighton Pride 2020!…..Patient Rep

Walking on behalf of the charity made me so proud. It brought back so many wonderful memories of Martin and how passionate he was about trying to change the stigma surrounding HIV. My granddaughters who walked with me absolutely loved it too. I hope in the years to come the stigma surrounding HIV will cease with this younger generation……Martin’s former PA/Secretary

I love walking in the parade, it’s a fantastic opportunity to promote the charity, raise awareness and engage with the public. There is always a great community spirit and positivity between those taking part and those watching…..Parade Participant

It was extremely humbling to be part of Brighton Pride. As a psychologist working in HIV/sexual health services, I am passionate about working to promote equality. It was incredibly touching to be part of an event that is dedicated to love and acceptance…..Principle Clinical Psychologist in HIV

Walking in the parade, led by the well-travelled Stiggy and carrying U=U banners whilst wearing white 70’s disco attire was the best way to spend a Saturday! Martin thrived on teamwork and to have seen ‘his team’ consisting of a cross section of staff, friends, charity supporters plus their children, grandchildren and even dogs would have made him extremely proud…..Consultant in HIV/GUM & Clinical Trials at the Royal Sussex County Hospital

Having experiences of life pre-HIV and throughout the journey, I was delighted to be able to give something back to support the charity.

I consider myself fortunate to have known Martin and benefitted from his fantastic care. The HIV journey is really inspirational to me and the charity, its Vision and Mission are so empowering.

The scientifically proven U=U message is so important and a real breakthrough for us all.  It has driven and motivated me to take every opportunity to talk to people about HIV and help break down the old stigma. Stigma should be left firmly in the past. For me the parade was about walking Proud and Standing tall!……Former patient of Martin’s

Walking for the charity was a wonderful experience and an emotional roller coaster. I thought of the past and how we need to make sure our future is NO MORE HIV STIGMA. The support the crowd gave us was wonderful, I am so proud of all the work we do to get the message out there…..HIV outpatients (Lawson Unit) receptionist

Being part of the parade reminded me that there is a lot of support for LGBTQ+ in the general population, a reminder that it’s important to keep pushing the message that HIV testing is vital to ultimately obtaining U=U.  I felt a sense of pride to be walking with the charity, to have that voice and help get our message out there…..Sexual Health and Contraception (SHAC) Health Adviser

It was a pleasure to participate in an event that brings everyone together, where everyone is happy and inclusive. The day left me with such an amazing feeling of unity and belonging…..SHAC secretary

The Martin Fisher Foundation would like to thank everyone who took part in the parade for the charity and the people of Brighton and Hove for their support.

You can follow the charity here:

Twitter @MartinFisherFo1