Following World Aids Day yesterday there's been a lot of awareness and media coverage about the disease and the virus that causes it (HIV), but you may not be so familiar with a similar virus called FIV. Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is the deadly feline version of HIV and can lead to the breakdown of a cat's immune system. The disease has no cure but can be easily prevented.
While making PrEP available is ultimately a decision for NHS England, rather than for politicians, I hope they will take steps to make PrEP available to people considered to be at high risk of catching the virus, without further delay. This could have an enormous impact on the lives of countless numbers of people in high-risk groups and be a vast improvement on our current approach, which wastes NHS resources and has let down far too many people.
We are fortunate that for the most part, World AIDS Day is no longer about life or death but it is about realising our next challenge. A challenge that utilises education to both inform wider society people about the virus but also to empower people to make informed choices about sex so we can end future transmissions of HIV, forever.
Celestine dreams of a world without stigma where people living with HIV are treated equally and fairly. She wishes for a place where education replaces ignorance, and empathy overcomes fear. On this World AIDS day, let us celebrate Celestine's journey, perseverance and dedication. And let's hope, one day, we can achieve her vision for a kinder, better world.
In the 30 years I've had HIV, I never expected to feel sorry, tender even, for a Hollywood actor, let alone Charlie Sheen: wanting to give this hot man-mess a hug, clap him on the back, spur him on to sober up and start living with HIV rather than dying from the shame of it. I really hope Charlie's self-outing as HIV positive does mark his final emergence from whatever swamp of chaos he's been floundering in this last five years.
We can achieve it by testing, so as to minimise the number of guys who don't think they have HIV, but do. We can achieve it by maximising viral suppression and getting as many HIV+ guys on treatment as possible. We can achieve it by using PrEP, not just because it works, but also to take the anxiety and rabbit-in-headlights paralysis out of gay dating.