Beverley Knight announced as new patron of Terrence Higgins Trust
Beverley Knight wants to support people to live well with HIV in the UK.
Beverley Knight told how she was deeply affected by losing a friend to HIV, as she was unveiled as the new patron of the Terrence Higgins Trust.
The singer and actress, 44, said her friend Tyrone told her about the HIV and sexual health charity, and that she is now on a mission to raise awareness and end the stigma surrounding the disease.
She said: “I lost a very good friend, Tyrone, in 2003 from an Aids-related illness, and that loss still affects me very deeply now.
“Tyrone leaned on Terrence Higgins Trust quite heavily because of his own HIV status, and he’s the person that brought the charity and their great work to my attention.”
Knight said she wants to support people to live well with HIV in the UK.
“Today, HIV is not the death sentence it once was,” she said.
“Treatment works very effectively, meaning people who are HIV positive can live very long, very happy and very fulfilled lives – but as long as they know they have HIV and have treatment, and that’s the key.”
The singer – whose latest album Soulsville features the song When I See You Again inspired by Tyrone – said there is a “terrible” stigma around the illness.
She said: “It’s a real problem because until we get past the stigma we can’t get people to admit to themselves that they could or do have the virus, and therefore need to have a test and get effective treatment.
“Some people just don’t think it will ever happen to them, so that’s why HIV awareness needs to be at the forefront of people’s minds now more than ever.”
With one in seven people living with HIV unaware they have it, testing early for the virus is vital to getting people onto treatment to ensure they are healthy, and to stop them transmitting the virus.
Knight added: “I hope that there is enough passion and experience in what I say, so when I speak about HIV people will listen.
“I want to rouse people from their slumber and get them to face the reality of HIV head on instead of putting their heads in the sand.”
The Trust’s chief executive Ian Green said: “Beverley has been a long standing supporter of the charity and has passionately campaigned to help stop HIV stigma and to ensure people with HIV live healthy and long lives.
“We are truly grateful for the unique contribution Beverley makes to people living with HIV, and we’re looking forward to continuing our work together as we aim to bring an end to HIV transmissions and to stigma.”
Other patrons of the charity include Stephen Fry, Tracey Emin and Dame Judi Dench.
:: To find out more about Terrence Higgins Trust’s work, visit www.tht.org.uk.