The UK’s largest HIV health organisation is questioning plans for a permanent AIDS memorial in Brighton.
Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) South says that the community has not been consulted properly and that the £20,000 bill for the memorial – currently being raised by local businesses and customers – could be better spent.
“There needs to be much greater community discussion about whether or not an AIDS memorial is the best way of remembering those who’ve died,” says Perry French from THT South.
The organisation had been invited to sit on a memorial consultation panel, but were never informed of any meetings despite repeated requests.
Concerns about the high cost of the memorial have been echoed by other HIV agencies.
“AIDS services have come a long way but the money could be better spent,” says Paula Goldsmith, Team Leader at Brighton Body Positive, which provides support for people living with or affected by AIDS.
“Prevention is the key part of where money should be.”
Body Positive says its service users were consulted but that it is unaware of the results.
It agreed that if some people feel the need to have a place of remembrance then one should be provided.
Sussex Beacon, a continuing care centre for people affected by HIV/AIDS related illnesses, did not want to publicly discuss the memorial issue but did underline the need for more funding.
An alternative idea proposes that the Brighton Museum permanently display the Open Door AIDS quilt, which would cost nothing.
“Instead of a memorial, we could use the money to support those living with HIV or use it for new innovative HIV prevention work,” says French.
One of the organisers of the memorial, local Liberal Democrat leader Paul Elgood, says that, “the consultation hasn’t started yet and a final figure hasn’t been set.”
However, gay businesses have been asked to help raise £20,000 to pay for a memorial, which the community has been told will be either on the Old Steine, Steine Gardens or somewhere on the sea front.