HIV Awareness Campaigner
1803. Charity Nyirenda
Charity Nyirenda, from London, is one of the UK’s leading HIV awareness campaigners, using her own experience of living with HIV for 18 years to promote better understanding of the disease and treatment.
Charity, who was born in Zambia, was diagnosed with the disease in 2003 and was initially terrified of telling anyone due to the stigma associated with having HIV. She began volunteering with ‘Positively UK’, a charity who support people living with HIV, in 2007 and has continued to support her community within Islington to access their services. Her experience with ‘Positively UK’ has led her to work with further organisations helping people affected by HIV and raising awareness, including ‘Catwalk4Power’, a public event defying the stigma that women living with HIV can face every day. Charity was also the face of the Terrence Higgins Trust’s ‘Can’t Pass It On’ campaign educating people that those on successful treatment cannot transmit HIV to sexual partners, and is also a peer mentor for other women through the ‘Joyful Noise Choir’, a musical group for people with HIV.
In a personal letter to Charity, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“As we mark World AIDS Day, I am delighted to recognise you as the UK’s 1802nd Point of Light for your fantastic work tackling stigma around HIV.
“By speaking out about your own health, you are opening up brave conversations and dispelling unhelpful myths around HIV transmission. Your choir for people living with HIV also provides a space of companionship and support.”
“I’m really excited to receive recognition for my volunteer work, in areas to do with raising awareness of how HIV affects peoples’ lives. So much of this volunteer work is done in collaboration with hard-working peers and allies – please continue to support us! I am also very thankful to know and work alongside organisations and groups like Positively UK, Catwalk4Power, and NAZ Project. There is a lot of information and education still to research and share on how HIV affects women’s lives and I will continue this vital work using creative and artistic methods to bring people together.”