Meet Anita, a captivating woman from Preston, Lancashire, UK, whose life unexpectedly turned in 1995. Following a routine blood donation, she received the life-altering news of her HIV diagnosis. At the time, Anita was married with a young son who had been battling a rare form of cancer since infancy. Their journey led them to Guy’s Hospital in London, where specialist doctors from Nova Scotia attended to her son’s unique medical needs.

Despite her son’s complex medical history, she felt dismissed and overlooked as a middle-class woman with a disabled husband, a veteran injured while serving in the British Army.

Following their return to the North when her son turned five, Anita became actively involved with Body Positive Blackpool, unaware of her own HIV status. It wasn’t until she received a letter urging her to undergo further blood tests that the devastating truth was revealed. Anita’s immediate concern was for her son, whose symptoms she had previously noticed but had been dismissed by medical professionals.

Concerned about her child’s health, Anita persisted in seeking answers. Despite initial dismissal from medical professionals, she demanded HIV testing for her son, ultimately confirming his diagnosis. She recounted the harrowing ordeal of her son’s misdiagnosis with rare cancer, as documented in medical papers authored by American and Canadian doctors—a condition he never had.

Anita’s son endured numerous health challenges throughout his journey, nearly succumbing to death on multiple occasions. Despite the hardships, Anita found solace in sharing her son’s story and advocating against HIV stigma, even making the difficult decision to sign papers for his fostering by a same-sex gay couple due to familial limitations.

In 2020, Anita faced further adversity when her HIV status became known in her workplace, resulting in ostracism and stigma reminiscent of her initial diagnosis. However, she found solace and support at the George House Trust in Manchester, where she and her son received invaluable assistance. Today, Anita works for the charity, tirelessly speaking at events and educating others about HIV stigma and the U=U (Undetectable equals Untransmittable) message.
She wears a red ribbon every day, a symbol of solidarity and remembrance for those affected by HIV/AIDS.
Anita’s courage and resilience inspire others, reminding us of the importance of empathy, understanding, and standing in solidarity with those living with HIV.
With each public appearance, Anita bravely shares a piece of herself, hoping to dismantle misconceptions and foster understanding around HIV, leaving an indelible impact on those she encounters.