Meet the UK’s first-ever openly HIV-positive mayor: ‘I hope I can show there’s no bar to what people with HIV can achieve’
The UK’s first-ever openly HIV positive mayor, Philip Normal, has been elected in Lambeth, South London.
He has pledged to support LGBT+ rights and de-stigmatise living with HIV.
Philip Normal, 38, is an artist who has a shop in Brixton Village Market and has represented Lambeth’s Oval ward since the May 2018 local government elections.
Normal, who lives in Kennington, was elected the Labour mayor at Lambeth’s first-ever virtual annual general meeting on April 22.
“I am incredibly honoured to become your mayor today,” he said in his acceptance speech.
“I look forward to working with you all, and with the diverse communities I am so very proud to be a part of here in Lambeth.
“I’ll be honest, this is not entirely how I envisaged it happening but I’m grateful to everyone who has worked so hard to make this evening possible.
“As mayor, I welcome the challenge to create new and exciting ways to bring the community together, support our local organisations, the arts, our young people, and raise money for my chosen charity.”
Philip Normal went on to talk about how he would be raising money for the Albert Kennedy Trust, which helps young LGBT+ people with housing issues, life skills, emergency accommodation and specialist support.
Normal has been campaigning for LGBT+ rights for more than two decades, ever since he came out.
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He studied fashion at the University of Westminster before moving to Lambeth eight years ago.
“I was diagnosed HIV positive in 2005,” he said.
“I’ve been on medication for 10 years and thanks to the incredible work the NHS does in the field of sexual health, like many others with the condition, I can live a long and healthy life.
“That said it isn’t something any of us should feel pride in as it highlights the shame and stigma that has been associated with HIV for far too long. Being open about your status is an individual choice and nobody should feel obliged to reveal their status.
“But I hope that by choosing to do so I can show that there is no limit to what people living with HIV can achieve, and that we have to smash the stigma around HIV once and for all.
“Further, in this time of great anxiety for our communities and tragedy for too many, the story of HIV treatment reminds us there is always hope thanks to medical science.
“Once we were desperate and dying but now, with effective treatment for HIV, undetectable is untransmittable.”