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Marking World Aids Day - 30 years since the first HIV Ward opened

14 November 2017

On Thursday 23 November, CNWL will mark 30 years since Princess Diana opened the first HIV Ward for patients at Middlesex Hospital.

Many of the young doctors working on the ward at that time work for the Trust today at CNWL’s Bloomsbury Clinic in central London.

Speakers at the event include Dr Patrick French, Professor Rob Miller, Jane Bruton (Ward sister) and Gideon Mendel, who will be screening some of the photographs from his book The Ward which captures life and love on the ward.

One of the patients on the ward at that time, Chris Sandford, now works for the Bloomsbury Patient Network offering advice and advocacy for people living with HIV. The team works alongside the expert medical staff at the Bloomsbury Clinic to provide up-to-date information, treatment and care.

Chris describes his experience on the ward which he says helped pave the way for all the care and treatment we receive today.

“I was hospitalised... with pneumonia. I was on Charles Bell with a caring, supportive team around me. I once cried myself to sleep because I so wished my partner had had the same care. Then came the news that it wasn’t PCP, was just ordinary pneumonia and despite being extremely weak, after a several days, with the help of a nurse I was walking again. I also realised that I was not going to die.

I started visiting Broderip Ward - opened by Princess Diana but the brass plaque commemorating this momentous event was now hidden from view by flowers to avoid anyone actually knowing that this was the AIDS ward. Self stigma had started. I talked to people who might never leave the ward... skeletons in pain from sores and KS ... talked to people who had no visitors because they had been abandoned by friends and family...talked to people who despaired because they believed the clap trap about God’s revenge and the gay plague... talked to people who had been victims of violence, abuse, prejudice, ignorance and discrimination. One boy had had his flat set on fire by neighbours so the council moved him... and the flat had a little garden for his cat... he came home one day and the cat had been hanged!

Terrible suffering... terrible despair... and the yet the doctors and nurses carried on as professionally, positively and cheerfully as possible. In private they often shared their despair because they could do nothing for their patients... I remember one doctor crying on my shoulder because he was about to lose another patient. At the same time... there was hope... new medication was just around the corner. Wasn’t it?”

Date: Thursday 23 November 6pm – 8pm

Venue: Duncan Catterall Room, Mortimer Market Centre, London WC1E 6JB

To book a place please call: 020 3317 5177

Image courtesy of Gideon Mendel from his book The Ward, published by Trolley Books –

Marking World Aids Day - 30 years since the first HIV Ward opened