This year Mildmay marks 30 years working at the forefront of HIV service provision and care. To mark this occasion Mildmay were honoured to welcome Lord Fowler – Lord Speaker in the House of Lords to our hospital in East London.
Since Mildmay first opened in 1988 as a unit for people who were at that time dying of AIDS related illness, great strides have been made in HIV treatment. Today in the UK people diagnosed with HIV, who can start treatment early can expect to live a long and healthy life. However, this is not the case for all. Late HIV diagnosis continues to be a serious threat to health and survival. Today 30 years on, Mildmay provides specialist treatment for people with complex and severe health conditions caused by HIV, including brain impairment.
Lord Fowler gave a fascinating and inspiring speech and made a tribute Mildmay’s achievements and to “…the indelible contribution you have made across 30 years of progress.” Lord Fowler also addressed the fact that discrimination, prejudice and stigma continues to be a huge problem and can prevent people accessing HIV testing or adhering to medication and means many live in debilitating fear of disclosing their HIV status to others. Lord Fowler paid tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales and to her sons who have made an enormous contribution and continued her fight to confront stigma and raise HIV awareness.
Lord Fowler closed his address by saying “As a health issue HIV has not gone away. We have come a long way there is no question of that, but above all the fight must go on. It is not the time to relax our efforts just as surely as there is still a long way to go. The help and contribution Mildmay has made is fantastic, please do continue. “
Mildmay also honoured Helen Taylor Thompson OBE who fought against the closure of the hospital and then in 1988 oversaw Mildmay becoming a dedicated unit for people dying of AIDS related illness.
Geoff Coleman CEO of Mildmay said “ It is a privilege to be able to welcome so many guests and supporters to Mildmay to help us mark this significant year in our long history of medical care. As well as paying tribute to the outstanding contribution Helen has made to our charity we are also truly honoured to welcome Lord Fowler, to Mildmay today. As Secretary of State for Health and Social Services during 1981-1987 Lord Fowler was the political force behind the Government’s response to the HIV epidemic, which was at that time claiming so many lives. The ground breaking ‘Don’t die of ignorance’ awareness campaign was and I believe still is, the biggest public health campaign that this country has ever seen, with leaflets sent out to every home. Lord Fowler personally drove through a campaign that undoubtedly saved lives and many say -changed who we are and what we talk about today. His work to keep HIV on the political and health agenda continues today and for this we are thankful. We are also grateful that he found the time to attend our small gathering, one that marked a big anniversary and achievement for our charity. “