Ollie Locke: ‘HIV ripped apart my family’

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Made in Chelsea star Ollie Locke is determined to raise awareness of HIV among young gay and bisexual men and has revealed that his uncle died from the virus.

The TV presenter recently took part in a First Editions Talk about sexual orientation at The Hospital Club in central London.

Ollie said afterwards that HIV was the “most important” issue facing the LGBT community.

“My uncle died from HIV and I think that it’s something incredibly important,” Ollie told PinkNews.co.uk.

“HIV ripped apart my family. My uncle was my mum’s only brother. He was gay and died in the eighties.”

Ollie was too young to remember the tragedy, in an era long before the arrival of successful HIV medication. Ollie learned that his uncle had been HIV positive many years after his death.

He said: “I was very, very, young and I can’t remember it, but it was in that generation where it was known as ‘cancer’ – it wasn’t known as AIDS.”

Figures released last week from Public Health England showed 3,250 gay and bisexual men were diagnosed with HIV last year – the highest ever figure.

One in eight gay and bisexual men in London is HIV positive.

Ollie hopes to raise awareness of the issue and educate young people about the realities of HIV.

He said: “I work quite a lot with the Mercury Phoenix Trust, set up in memory of the late Freddie Mercury. The major issue I find is that young people are not being taught about HIV.”

The 27-year-old presenter has also spoken about the subject with David Furnish at the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The pair discussed the challenges of educating young people about HIV.

Ollie said: “People think it’s just one pill per day, but it’s actually a lot more complex than that.

“Like all medicines, the drugs used to treat HIV can cause side-effects.

“The stigma attached to HIV is still horrendous. We need more prominent people to speak about it, which is something I am really happy to do.

“And also young straight people, some of them still think they can’t get HIV when obviously anyone can.”

National HIV Testing Week is taking place from 22-30 November, followed by World AIDS Day on 1 December.

The next First Editions Talks is with controversial author Julie Burchill and Cosmo Landesman on 2 December. For more information click here