London politicians back calls for national AIDS memorial

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The London Assembly has backed calls for the creation of a national memorial dedicated to victims of the AIDS crisis.

Though there are many poignant memorials to victims of the AIDS crisis around the world, but London does not currently have such a memorial.

The Beacon of Hope in Manchester’s Sackville Gardens is currently the only public memorial in the UK to the thousands who lost their lives during the AIDS crisis.

This week, the devolved London Assembly passed a motion backing the creation of a public AIDS memorial.

Assembly Members agreed a motion calling on Mayor Sadiq Khan to back plans for the memorial in London, and to lobby the government on the issue.

Labour’s Tom Copley said: “This issue has local, national, and international importance.

“The capital is absolutely the right place for this memorial for both historical and contemporary reasons.

“It was at the heart of the epidemic at the time, is at the cutting edge of medical developments, and today around 40 per cent of those seeking treatment for HIV in the UK do so in London.

“I am delighted the Assembly has backed our call for this memorial, and look forward to seeing the campaign grow and succeed.”

Green Party AM Sian Berry said: “London was at the heart of this country’s AIDS epidemic which affected so many people, their loved ones and their friends. It’s also where some of the most pioneering treatment and prevention methods are being carried out today.

“A dedicated memorial would pay tribute to the people we lost, as well as recognising those living with HIV now.

“It is wonderful that early detection and pioneering treatment allows people in the UK newly diagnosed with HIV to presume a normal life expectancy. However, London is a global city, and Londoners have many family and friends around the world living with HIV and AIDS who face stigma and don’t have access to medication.

“By showing support for a national AIDS memorial here, the Assembly recognises London’s links to all the communities affected, past and present, at home and across the globe.”

The Assembly argues that the memorial would “remember the struggles of those living with HIV as well as those who took on the challenge to treat, support and campaign for those who were affected by AIDS [and]  ensure that this period in British history is not forgotten and form a link between the past, the present and the future for all the communities in the UK who bore the brunt of the epidemic”,