In the reception area of the HIV clinic at University Hospital Lewisham, two women embrace.
Clinical nurse specialist Marcia Barnaby has not seen Patricia (an alias), since she was diagnosed with HIV when she was pregnant with her son 14 years ago.
“It was a devastating diagnosis,” Patricia said. “I remember coming into the clinic. There was a nurse sitting in here peeling a large orange. There was something very peaceful in this: he was taking his time, there was no emergency. I knew then that I wasn’t going to die.”
Patricia was put on treatment during her pregnancy and her son was born HIV negative.
“I owe my life to this clinic and my son’s.”
There are 850 patients at the Alexis Clinic in Lewisham, more than half of whom are heterosexual, and most of whom are of African origin. Many live on the poverty line and struggle with mental health problems. The biggest challenge facing the team at the clinic, however, is the issue of stigma.
“We have patients from the African community who would rather die than be seen here,” said a specialist HIV nurse.
Our #AIDSfree campaign is here to support centres like the Alexis Clinic. These services can provide the support, care and treatment that these people need, yet so many people in London are currently without help, due to the crippling stigma they face due to their positive status.
Our campaign seeks to raise money to find them and bring them towards the stigma-free care that could save their lives.
Help us continue our work.
Through UK Aid Match, the UK government will double public donations up to £2 million to be spent across projects in Maputo and Nairobi.
£5 provides vital HIV testing information to those at risk
£20 will pay for a self-testing kit so those stigmatised can receive the help they need
£100 will ensure someone with a positive diagnosis is given the right treatment