On Tuesday the 18th the amazing Student Stop AIDS Speaker Tour came to Manchester! We started the afternoon at the Student Union pestering students on campus to sign our (literally!) transparent letters to MEPs asking for more transparency on Fair Trade Agreements and asking them not to support clauses that exploited developing countries. We started with our stall outside but, of course, it rained! To be honest you can’t experience Manchester truly without getting a little bit soaked so that was to be expected, we are the rain capital of the UK after all! But despite setbacks in the weather and a few run-ins with the Union we managed to set up shop and get over 80 letters signed over the course of the afternoon.
The afternoon went quickly and it was then time for the talk! Despite worries about the size of the room and lack of projector it all went very smoothly. I was very pleased to have a turnout of almost 50 students from around the University who were all eager to hear the stories to be shared. We heard Jay’s story about his experience of being HIV positive in China whilst also living with Haemophilia and Hepatitis C. I was shocked to hear about how when trying to access the medicines he needed at an affordable price he had to act like a criminal and made calls from phone boxes so not to be identifiable. It’s ridiculous that this is the price to pay for trying to stay alive! Daisy shared her heart wrenching story of life in Uganda as a sex worker. It was so interesting to hear about some of the barriers we may not think about when trying to stop AIDS and inspiring to hear of some of the ways she’s been getting around these. I was completely shocked to hear Nick’s story about some of the discrimination he faced, coming from as close to home as Scotland. It was sad to hear that he struggled to find the support networks he needed to come to terms with his HIV positive status.
All the speakers and Florence, who is currently interning at the Student Stop AIDS office, explained to us all the great importance of the Student Stop AIDS Campaign and how we can all make a difference. I felt that my motivation to continue was renewed and I hope that many more people will now join our campaign to make our voices heard!