On Monday the Speaker tour came to Lancaster. Our guests first of all visited our main campus campaigning and raising awareness of Access to HIV medicines. Then at 6pm it was time for the big event which excelled all expectations.
We meet Daisy from Kampala, Uganda, Jay from Gyang Jo, China and Nick from Glasgow, three completely different people from completely different backgrounds who in the next few weeks will be sharing their amazing stories around a number of UK universities.
I had the pleasure of meeting them outside the Royal Lancaster Infirmary where the talk would take place in the Lecture theatre in the education centre. Jay, Daisy and Nick encaptured our audience of students who made it to the event. There accounts were incredibly moving, shocking and thought provoking.
All three gave accounts of how they contracted HIV and the obstacles they have had to overcome. Hearing their accounts was very educational, every member of the audience gained new knowledge of this disease. Medical student commented saying that their curriculum really didn’t give enough information about the problem of HIV and are now looking to make the Speaker tour a compulsory event for 3rd Year Medics, stating that the speaker tour was an incredible experience and one that every medical student should experience and attend. Their emotive speeches were a night to remember, bringing many questions from our audience, which were all answered with a great deal of honesty.
After the talk many of the audience wrote MP letters written on transparent acetate, calling for them to boycott any free trade agreement that is not transparent, or contains conditions which will restrict access to medicines. The scale of this problem was one that I believe most of the audience were not aware of and one that we now feel needs to be addressed, especially after listening to Jays story about his issues accessing medicine and how he has had to resort to ways which were illegal in his country, and also how some of his friends have died not because of HIV but through being unable to afford treatment. This was also echoed by Nick who has never had a problem accessing medicine as he is from the UK whereas people in other countries HIV is causing 1000s of death though lack of medicines and people being unable to afford treatments. Daisy’s story gave a fresh prospective of sex-workers, which I believe gave our audience more to think about and a better view on the subject, from somebody who actually works in the industry.
Jay, Daisy and Nick were a pleasure to listen to and I got to hear more about their stories after their speeches in a meal we all had in an Italian restaurant afterwards. They have given Lancaster an incredible experience which was one I hope will encourage and inspire our students to get more involved in the Stop Aids Student Campaign.