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Anita Dobson narrates landmark audiobook on HIV pandemic

 

Today – World AIDS Day – the National HIV Story Trust has released the audiobook Love, Loss & Life, the charity’s first book, with narration by actress Anita Dobson. The audiobook marks the National HIV Story Trust’s latest initiative to keep stories of the HIV pandemic alive.

The audiobook is the first of its kind. It brings together 22 unique stories from the National HIV Story Trust’s collection of over 120 filmed interviews.

Paul Coleman, Chair of the National HIV Story Trust, said: “We were absolutely blown away by the success of last year’s book which shows there is an enduring desire to remember and to learn from the HIV and AIDS pandemic. By making these stories available as an audiobook we hope to reach brand new audiences – many of whom may not know anything about this period in our history. And we are honoured to have the iconic Anita Dobson support us by narrating the audiobook.”

Anita Dobson added, “When the National HIV Story Trust asked me to be involved in Love, Loss & Life I was so moved by the stories I just knew I wanted as many people as possible to hear about the tragedy of the pandemic but just as importantly the humanity of it. I would love you all to read or listen to these stories.”

The audiobook features stories from Rupert Everett, Prof Jane Anderson, former Health Secretary Lord Fowler plus activists, people infected with ‘contaminated blood’, and nurses among many others.

Ahead of the official launch of the audiobook on 1st Dec, the NHST is making 4 stories available as free podcasts. These are the real stories of individuals who lived and breathed the HIV/AIDS story. Each story sheds light on the silence and secrets of the past 40 years whilst introducing listeners to the positives that came out of the pandemic, describing how a community stood together and built a better future, even while it was being drained of life.

  • George Hodson

George can legitimately claim to have been there at ‘Ground Zero’, living in San Francisco when the very first cases of HIV/AIDS began to appear among the gay community in America in the early 1980s. Diagnosed with AIDS himself a decade later, when there was still no effective treatment for the virus, he has somehow survived through several different cancers and a heart bypass operation into his seventies, but watched his lover, his friends and his fellow patients in the London Lighthouse dying of AIDS related illnesses.

  • Rebecca de Havilland

Rebecca is a trans woman born in Ireland, who had a successful career as a hair and makeup artist in Dublin and ran a model agency before moving to London, and seeking gender reassignment surgery after a failed marriage. She has volunteered with the Terrence Higgins Trust, and now project manages the 56T service for trans and non-binary people in London. She also runs her own Project Bootcamp to support trans women through the transitioning process. It was only when Rebecca applied for gender reassignment surgery that she discovered she was HIV positive. Her journey through HIV and AIDS has been a journey into understanding herself.

  • Nick Partridge and Janet Green

Sir Nick Partridge OBE was living in Amsterdam when news of an illness affecting gay men in America started to percolate through to Europe. He returned to England, volunteered for Gay Switchboard, and then in 1985 secured a job as office administrator with the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), the first charity in the UK to be set up in response to the AIDS pandemic. He went on to become its Chief Executive from 1991 to 2013. Honoured with an OBE in 1999 for his services to charity and knighted in 2009, he was named by the Independent in 2010 as one of the top 100 most influential gay and lesbian people in Britain.

Having graduated with a degree in social sciences and having qualified in social work in 1981, Janet Green was a volunteer on London Lesbian Line before starting at the Terrence Higgins Trust at the same time as Nick Partridge, sharing an office with him as the charity’s first two paid employees. In her role as Counselling coordinator, she was for the next eight years instrumental in setting up many of the charity’s counselling and befriending initiatives. Afterwards, she continued to specialise in HIV as a local authority social worker, later working more generally in disability services, until her retirement in 2007. From their different perspectives, Nick and Janet look back at the early years of the Terrence Higgins Trust and the support it offered to those with HIV and AIDS.

●     Adrienne Seed

Although her partner died of AIDS-related illness in 1998, Adrienne was not diagnosed herself until four years later, by which time she had a viral load of over 2 million. She found being a woman with HIV a lonely experience at first, and hid her status from her son for many years.

 

You can find the audiobook on all platforms (Google, Apple, Audiobooks) or ask for the book in stores or order online here. The stories are brought to life by Anita who is joined by actors Christopher Ashman, Kay Eluvian and Elexi Walker, with original music by Alex Mills.

The first 103 interviews filmed by the NHST have been donated to the London Metropolitan Archive and are being made available for public viewing. You can find out more about accessing the archive here.

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