Birkbeck supports London AIDS Memorial on Tottenham Court Road

Today, the College marks World AIDS Day to show support for people living with HIV and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness; with the memorial serving to remember lives lost, a history marred by discrimination and the current impact.

World Aids Day Memorial site

Birkbeck is proud to support AIDS Memory UK, founded by Ash Kotak, with their campaign to create a London AIDS memorial and is delighted that the confirmed site is on Tottenham Court Road, next to Goodge Street Tube Station – one of the stations closest to the College.

AIDS Memory UK created the memorial as a ‘unifying national focal point to remember the lives of those lost to HIV and AIDS’. The central London location was chosen due to its proximity to the former Middlesex Hospital, which housed the first AIDS ward and was opened by Princess Diana in 1987. It was at the opening of this ward that, in front of the world’s media, Princess Diana shook hands with an AIDS patient at a time when there was global panic about transmission from touch. The site is also within close distance to James Pringle House, the STD clinic that saw some of the first patients in the UK, and the Bloomsbury Clinic, the busiest HIV clinic in the UK.

Daniel Monk, Assistant Dean for Equality in the School of Law, helped coordinate support for the memorial across the University of London and hopes that “the memorial will not only serve as a place of remembrance, but encourage academics and students to think about the place of HIV/AIDS within their programmes; from virology and global pandemics to grief and care, and the impact of stigma, discrimination and inequalities; HIV/AIDS has so much to teach us across every discipline”.

Creating this memorial is important as a way of remembering the many people who died and the discrimination they faced, as well as the ongoing impact of HIV/AIDS on so many people around the world. According to statistics from the Terrence Higgins Trust, the most recent estimate suggests that there were 105,200 people living with HIV in the UK in 2019, with London continuing to have the highest rates of HIV in the country – 36% of new diagnosis in 2019 were London residents.

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