National HIV Memorial one step closer

National HIV Memorial one step closer

Plans for a UK HIV memorial came one step closer today as it received the backing of the London Assembly. 

HIV/AIDS Memorial in Durban, South Africa

A recent campaign for a UK HIV memorial, based in London, started by campaigner Ash Kotak, led by the charity GMFA, and signed by thousands of people, is one step closer to being a reality after it received the support of the London Assembly.

The memorial would pay tribute to the men, women and children who have died from HIV and AIDS in the UK and abroad.

There is currently no memorial to those who died in London in contrast to most other major cities affected including Amsterdam, Auckland, Barcelona, Berlin, Brighton, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Dublin, Edinburgh, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Kiev, LA, Madrid, Manchester, Melbourne, Montreal, Moscow, Munich, NYC, Paris, San Francisco, San Salvador, Sydney, Toronto, Vienna and Zurich.

Assembly Members agreed a motion calling on the Mayor to join them in supporting the campaign and to write to Government ministers urging them to explore funding for the memorial.

Sian Berry, Assembly Member

Sian Berry AM, who proposed the motion said:

“London was at the heart of this country’s AIDS epidemic which affected so many people, their loved ones and their friends. It’s also where some of the most pioneering treatment and prevention methods are being carried out today.

A dedicated memorial would pay tribute to the people we lost, as well as recognising those living with HIV now.

It is wonderful that early detection and pioneering treatment allows people in the UK newly diagnosed with HIV to presume a normal life expectancy. However, London is a global city, and Londoners have many family and friends around the world living with HIV and AIDS who face stigma and don’t have access to medication.

By showing support for a national AIDS memorial here, the Assembly recognises London’s links to all the communities affected, past and present, at home and across the globe.”

Tom Copley, Assembly Member

Tom Copley AM, who seconded the motion said:

“This issue has local, national, and international importance. 

The capital is absolutely the right place for this memorial for both historical and contemporary reasons. It was at the heart of the epidemic at the time, is at the cutting edge of medical developments, and today around 40 per cent of those seeking treatment for HIV in the UK do so in London. I am delighted the Assembly has backed our call for this memorial, and look forward to seeing the campaign grow and succeed.”

The full text of the Motion is:

“This Assembly welcomes the revived campaign, led by GMFA (Gay Men Fighting AIDS), in conjunction with the UK HIV sector, for a national memorial to the many thousands of people who have died from HIV and AIDS in the UK.

It is appropriate that this memorial is sited in London, which was at the heart of the epidemic in this country, affecting many of our citizens, their loved ones and their friends. It was also from here that many of the national HIV/AIDS services were established, and it is here that the most cutting edge screening and prevention services are now sited, with increasing success.

The memorial would:

  • pay tribute to the men, women and children who died in the UK;
  • remember the struggles of those living with HIV as well as those who took on the challenge to treat, support and campaign for those who were affected by AIDS;
  • ensure that this period in British history is not forgotten and form a link between the past, the present and the future for all the communities in the UK who bore the brunt of the epidemic;
  • remember those who perished and who continue to live with HIV across the world, many of whom still cannot access treatment.

We urge the Mayor to state his backing for this campaign. Along with the Assembly’s support, this will add to the growing momentum for this memorial and give confidence to potential sponsors and fundraising efforts. We also ask the Mayor to write to the appropriate Government ministers urging them on London’s behalf to look at how this national memorial might be funded.”

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