HIV Social Media Activist
1854. Jay Hawkridge
Jay Hawkridge, aged 28, from Leeds, is an HIV activist who has amassed more than 166,000 followers on his TikTok social media profile, a platform where he discusses the realities of living with HIV and raises educational awareness among young people about the condition and sexual health, particularly for LGBT+ people.
Jay was diagnosed with HIV in November 2019 after being infected by a sexual partner on a one-night stand, and needed a year to fully process the condition and share with family and friends. He decided to turn to social media to help offer younger people with HIV the opportunity he had never had of speaking openly and honestly with people his age about being HIV positive, and tackling the prejudice and stigma associated with talking about living with HIV. Jay has now made thousands of videos, dispelling myths and misinformation about living with the virus, and sharing other details such as medications available on the NHS. He has most recently appeared on a Sky documentary series ‘Positive’, focusing on the UK’s 40-year history with HIV and AIDs, in which he further shared his experiences of living with HIV as a young man in the 21st century.
In a personal letter to Jay, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“As we mark National HIV Testing Week, I am delighted to recognise your work to break down stigma around HIV by candidly discussing the reality of living with HIV.
“Your astonishing social media audience of over 150,000 people has created a brilliant platform to reach young people and dispel unhelpful myths around HIV transmission.”
“I’m honoured that what started as a real-time-response to something that has happened to me has blossomed into what it has today.
“To be recognised for this is humbling, and is hopefully another step forward to raising awareness and providing education for not just HIV, but the wide number of subjects that young people today are vitally missing out on blanket education for.
“I, for one, am just honoured that my voice has reached as far as it has already, and continue to discuss what I do, as much as I can. Thank you.”