PA has been a part of my life for 21 years so you will appreciate what a wrench it is for me to be leaving, and in such circumstances. But it’s not all bad…
What a transformation I have witnessed for those living with HIV! When I joined as a volunteer in 1996 PA was supporting approximately 10 service users. At that time life expectancy for most people was two years, or less, from the point of diagnosis and PA's service was focussed on providing practicable support to people who were too unwell to care for themselves, and emotional supoprt to them and to their families.
I am, however, delighted that some of those early service users are still with us today which is testament to the huge advancements which have happened in testing, treatment and care. It was inconceivable in 1996 that we would reach the point where life expectancy for people living well with HIV is ‘normal’, and we would be discussing the possibility of changing our terminology from 'untetectable' to 'untransmittable', which would also be an enourmous step towards reducing stigma.
Over the years, I have had the privilege of contributing to the support of over 1,200 people in varying degrees; many I won’t have met personally and some I will have worked closely with, none more so than the baby who’s birth I was so honoured to be present at. I would however, like to thank you all for the privilege of sharing your lives; I wish you every happiness in the future.
Finally I'd like to sincerely thank the fantastic team who made it all possible including staff, volunteers, therapists, supporters and professional partners who all contributed to the wonderful service we developed and the difference that we made for so many.
With very best wishes to you all for the future.