The newly independent St Andrews branch of Stop AIDS held an evening talk designed to put faces to the millions affected by HIV last Tuesday.
The talk focused around two very different people who had both suffered discrimination and hardship after contracting the HIV virus.
The first to speak was Mohammad Berry, a twenty-year-old from Africa who was exposed to HIV after an emergency blood transfusion at seven. He spoke movingly about how, feeling his life was so worthless, he had tried to commit suicide twice at the age of sixteen.
Mohammad is now actively involved in campaigning and told those present:
“I’m telling you just one story out of millions of untold stories. You can make all the difference, because you are healthy, wealthy and educated. You have an opportunity to hand down a new generation.”
Leah Griffiths, a mother of two from Bedford, spoke about the horror of finding out she was both pregnant and HIV positive. She spoke of how friends and family couldn’t see past the disease and how only after years of depression did she find a support group that made her feel empowered again.
St Andrews’ Stop AIDS is currently participating in the university’s first SHAG (Sexual Health And Guidance) Week. The group’s main goal is to fight for better access to STI testing for students, a particular problem in St Andrews, with the first step being the free clinic open on the Union’s second floor every day this week from 1 to 5 pm.
Earlier in the day, the Students Stop AIDS Campaign Speakers Tour had taken to the streets of St Andrews, protesting against Johnson and Johnson, who currently hold the exclusive patents for many HIVdrugs.