Current Affairs

Councillor reveals his HIV status at Manchester Pride

Jessica Geen September 2, 2009
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A Manchester councillor revealed he was HIV positive in front of thousands of people at the city’s Pride event last weekend.

During a vigil remembering those who have died after contracting the virus, openly gay Harpurhey councillor Paul Fairweather told the 3,000-strong crowd his status.

He said: “We have to beat the stigma and the nonsense surrounding this. We can never put pressure on anybody to reveal their status, it’s an incredibly individual, personal thing.”

He also paid tribute to his loved ones, saying: “I cannot stand here tonight and talk about being positive without the love and support of my family, friends and colleagues.

“Many of us have this love and support, but many of us don’t.”

However, he pointed to the difficulties of dealing with his status as a gay man: “I and many other HIV positive gay men have experienced rejection and even hostility from within the gay community, as well as support.”

Fairweather told “For a number of personal reasons, it felt like the right time [to reveal my status]. And also politically, as the theme of Pride was challenging HIV stigma.”

He added that he had received a “really positive” response following his speech.

“I’ve had lots of emails and texts from people I know, and also some from perfect strangers. One 25-year-old gay man, who’s been positive for three years, told me he came out to his family and had a very positive response. If even just one person has been able to do that, I’m really pleased.”

Fairweather has been campaigning for gay rights and HIV awareness since the early 1980s. He was one of six men who set up the George House Trust, formerly known as Manchester AIDSline.

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