Yesterday we left Edinburgh (again) after a jam-packed day of extra-tour-curricula activities including an interview with HIV Scotland and making a video to highlight Merck’s underhanded tactics with South Africa in the Pharmagate scandal.
After a cozy night in with veteran Stop AIDer Rachael Crockett we woke up early and headed for DfID East Kilbride to meet with Louise Coskeran the Policy advisor on the HIV and Sexual Reproductive Health team. Myself, Daisy and Jay had thought that it might be a small meeting at DfID so we were delighted when more than 20 people came by to hear Daisy and Jay’s stories and about the campaign.
We reminded the group that the UK government has, in the past been really successful in supporting developing countries’ use of TRIPs flexibilities to access affordable medicine. Like in 2007 when the then Minister for International Development Hilary Benn publicly supported Thailand filing for a compulsory license to access the HIV drug Kaletra. We spoke about how Jay and Daisy’s stories prove that access to medicine is still a major problem and we need a resurgence of this support from the UK government for countries using TRIPs flexibilities!
After a quick coffee we drove down to Judi and Roisin’s (Glasgow Student Stop AIDS Campaign society) for a speedy lunch before heading to the union for some campaigning. Setting up the stall in the wind was a bit of a challenge but with enough sellotape and string we just about managed. People were keen to sign our MEP letters and we got more than 20 done in just over an hour as well as some more recruits for the evening event. Meanwhile Jay and Daisy were being interviewed for the student paper by some journalist students and Nick turned up just in time to help us carry the props over to the venue.
We were met by a group of keen students in the front row. Daisy and Jay and Nick frantically copied out MEP letters so we could ensure everyone had one and Izzy put up banners and set up cameras. We had some great questions: one member of the audience asked all three speakers what they would say to their younger selves on the day they found out their status? Daisy and Jay said they would say ‘Start medication immediately, however you can, that is the only way to go forward’ where as Nick said he wished that he would have known Daisy and Jay then because it would have given him more courage. More courage than he already had.
We had some great conversations afterwards with the audience and finished off the night with a lovely meal with the Glasgow group. Today is Edinburgh, for real this time, I hope a Ceilidh is in store for afters!