HIV campaigner and emerging designer dies aged 25
Emerging designer Jacob Alexander, who campaigned to end the stigma against HIV, has died aged 25.
Alexander is believed to have taken his own life on Saturday (October 20).
The 25-year old, a former student at the University of the Arts London, spoke at a TED talk in May 2016 about being diagnosed with HIV on the morning of his 22nd birthday and living with the virus.
He was also known for launching The Positive Project, which aimed to educate people about HIV and shine a positive light on it. As part of this, he launched a t-shirt range—with all proceeds going to HIV research and treatment—and an app.
PinkNews understand that The Positive Project will be continued by Alexander’s family.
In his last Instagram post dated October 5, Alexander posted a photo with the phrase “rebuild yourself, in private,” saying that he would be “back soon.”
Chrissie Deans, a trans campaigner who has known Alexander since he was 12-years old, paid tribute to her friend, describing his activism as “bold and daring.”
“He was a pivotal person involved in my coming out and again years later within my transition,” she told PinkNews.
“His support through my teens allowed me to be the person I am today, but he didn’t just do this for me, he helped countless other people in his life and his support as a friend is what really makes him an unsung hero.”
Deans added: “Hearing about his passing was shocking and I, like many others have been overcome with grief.
“Jacob was transcendent and an absolute force of nature, he had overcome countless obstacles in his life and has been an inspiring source to so many people within the queer community.”
The campaigner said Alexander had an “ability to turn something horrible like the prejudices he faced and turn it into something beautiful, something positive.”
“I’d like him to be remembered for that. His passion, his fight, his love for this community and the people around him,” she said.
She urged people to check in with their friends, saying: “Just because someone is a fighter it doesn’t always mean they have a lot of fight left.”
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Other campaigners have remembered Alexander on social media.
Greg Owen, co-founder of I Want PrEP Now, which raises awareness of HIV prevention treatment, tweeted: “I am shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of @jacobalxndr. He was such a sweetheart. Rest in peace.”
LGBT+ activist Ash Kotak commented on Twitter: “He was a warrior but again mental health issues bought him down. Very sad. RIP and Rest in Power.”
Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org), or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.
If you live in New Zealand, you can contact the Suicide Crisis Helpline on 0508 828 865. Readers in Australia are encouraged to phone Samaritans on 135 247.