Tom Fraser, is a student at Sheffield Uni – having just got involved in the Student Stop AIDS Campaign he attended his first Stop AIDS National Gathering.  Find out what he found shocking, what was exciting and why he was dancing in Sheffield town centre in Robin Hood get up and a Nick Clegg mask…

Having come back from Russia realising what a horribly selfish and self involved human being I’ve been for most of my life, I felt like I wanted something to get stuck into; I wanted to help people, and I wanted something to fight for.

As luck would have it, during my fourth and final fresher’s week I came across one of the most incredible student organisations and have been thrown right in the deep end on a cause that is not only close to home, but something I’ve been passionate about for a long time; HIV/AIDS.

So I know you’re all worried that I’m just another homo who’s jumped on the HIV band-wagon; I know as gay men we’ve by and large started to listen up, and we’re more careful than ever with our sexual health, so I’m not going to just nag at you to use condoms, BUT, what I had failed to even consider are a huge range of issues, that the guys at Student Stop AIDS have been tackling since 2003.

What is shocking is that although so much progress has been made in the field of HIV treatment and prevention, HUGE inequalities and access issues still exist for a large proportion of the developing world. But here’s the thing; there’s SO much that we can do! And that is exactly what this weekend was about; making a stand for change…


Playing a warm up game at the National Gathering


So down to the details! This year Sheffield was the host of the Student Stop AIDS National Gathering, and I fortunately was able to get some time off to join in, in what turned out to be a really positive, informative and action packed weekend!

We attended workshops covering everything from the basics of what is HIV, to prevention, treatment, and some of the wider issues involving access to HIV treatment especially in the developing world. We also managed to organize an amazing Flash-mob in Sheffield City Centre to help spread the word and put forward our support for the Robin Hood Tax

Getting hyped for the flashmob in Sheffield city centre

In order to get the message out there, all of those who came to the gathering took to the Peace Gardens in Sheffield city centre, clad in Robin Hood get-up and Nick Clegg masks, calling on support from our local politician. The stunt went down a storm and even attracted local press and the attention of a national news website!.

In addition, we even had the opportunity of campaigning our local MP Paul Blomfield in person. As one of his constituents, I managed to have a great talk with Mr Blomfield- explaining some of the details of the Student Stop AIDS upcoming campaign- who was really receptive and is considering supporting us as we push onward for greater access to HIV treatment and more funding for developing life-saving drugs.

Students with Paul Blomfield MP including Tom (right of Paul)

 Overall it’s safe to say we had an incredible time, and I want to send a big thank you for the incredible effort of all of those involved in organizing the weekend and all those who took part in making the event such a hit!

The cause has come such a long way, and we ARE able to make a difference to peoples’ lives. Get involved and play your part in an incredible movement that could help save lives around the globe!

This post is from Tom’s own blog ‘Fifty Shades of Gay’ . Tom will be writing more about the campaign and ways to get involved, plus more on the ‘life and works of a modern homosexual’.