ADRIENNE'S HIV BLOG – Hivine's Weblog

HIVINE is written by HIV positive women but still with a sense of humour

Archive for January 31, 2011

House of Lords

Beggin’ your pardon my lords, ladies and gentlemen, but I have neglected to tell you about my recent visit to the Houses of Parliament. HIV has certainly taken me to some very important and exciting venues, for example the International AIDS Conference in Mexico, the ‘This morning’ sofa, News at Ten to name but a few – and now the House of Lords.

 I must say I felt very proud to be there as a representative of POZ-FEM UK and the Sophia forum – a human pawn, no matter how small, in our fight to keep HIV and the issues positive women are facing in the UK at the forefront of the political agenda for health.

Before I went through security I had a quick stroll in the grounds, in other words a quick fag, before I entered those hallowed halls and I stood gazing up at the statue of Emily Pankhurst silhouetted against the London sky and although I was by no means comparing myself to that most revered of women (and where would we women be without her), I did give myself a congratulatory pat on the back for at least trying to do something for us positive women here in the UK who sadly can’t stand up and be counted, or speak out.

Interestingly enough Silvia Petretti our great role model and founder of POZ-Fem UK mentioned in her excellent emotional yet hard hitting speech that there were only about thirty women in the UK who were actively speaking out for women’s issues. So few and that says it all. I’m sure that every single positive woman out there would have something to say about living with HIV and the issues we are forced to face, in particular stigma which holds most of us prisoner with its prejudicial reins. Silvia’s speech can be read in its entirety on her blog and website http://hivpolicyspeakup.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/visibility-voices-and-vision-a-strategy-for-women-and-hiv-in-the-uk/

Sophia which was co-founded by Dr Alice Welbourn is a network of women and organisations around the UK and part of the UNAIDS-coordinated Global Coalition on Women and AIDS. She is also the former International Chair, ICW and Director of the Salamander Trust. Alice has worked on international gender and health issues for over 25 years. Diagnosed HIV positive in 1992, she wrote a training package on gender, HIV and relationship skills called Stepping Stones, now widely used across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Alice currently sits on the UNESCO Global Advisory Group for sex, relationships and HIV education and is a member of the Steering Committee of the GCWA.

So a formidable team.

The Sophia Forum Round Table Meeting was Hosted by Baroness Gould of Potternewton and was aimed at addressing issues in relation to Women and HIV in the UK. The focus of the Meeting was to bring together 50 representatives of organisations working in relevant sectors, to address the many and complex issues facing women living with HIV in the UK. Participants included representatives from health, legal and education sectors – both professional bodies and Civil Society Organisations.

I was sitting next to a lovely young lady from Scotland representing Waverly Care who was also HIV positive. She told me she was suffering from a urine problem but I misheard her and thought she’d said a hearing problem so I pointed at her ear and joked that perhaps she should get a horn. She replied that a she-wee (those portable things for women to pee in) might be more appropriate. I was thinking why on earth would she need a shee-wee to help her to hear better and she was thinking why on earth would I need a horn for a urine infection – unless of course she thought I meant she could pee in it. Luckily the microphones weren’t on at this stage. Until we’d finally clarified the issue, she must have thought I was very odd.

I hope all the issues we raised did some good. I outlined a few relevant points so I did my bit, then it was back on the train leaving the glory of old London town in all its majesty behind and back to boring Blackburn and the other lady of the house – lady Doodle.

http://www.sophiaforum.net/index.php/Events/Round_Table_Meeting_House_of_Lords_January_2011