AIDS charity closes
JERSEY’S only AIDS charity is closing because of the progress made against the disease in recent years, according to the group’s chairman.
Malcolm Lewis, the now former chairman of AIDS Care Education and Training, said that the ‘tremendous progress made against AIDS’ over the past 15 years had partly led to his decision to formally close the charity.
The charity launched in 1994 to provide a ‘Christian response’ to AIDS to combat the stigma and discrimination which surrounded the disease at the time. A group of parishioners across the Island joined together under the leadership of Dr John Stewart-Jones and went on to educate Islanders about HIV prevention. They particularly focused on educating young people, their parents and teachers on how to avoid infection.
Mr Lewis said: ‘HIV is no longer the death sentence it appeared to be in the 1980s. Significant advances in treatment means that people living with HIV can now expect to live a full life with a normal lifespan.
‘This has been reflected in the diminishing demand ACET has experienced in recent years for its confidential, practical and emotional support services in Jersey.
‘While a significant part of our work focused on prevention over the past 24 years, we are confident that schools and other organisations in Jersey are now well equipped to take this important part of our work forward.’
Mr Lewis added that the charity had not been active since their HIV care co-ordinator and counsellor – who provided one-to-one psychological support – left the Island in 2015 and said that formally dissolving the charity felt like the next logical step.
Mr Lewis also said that Jersey as a whole was far better equipped now to better take care of those living with the disease.
He said: ‘Treatment for HIV was far less advanced in the 90s, when the charity was first founded. But in recent years the facilities and treatments available in the General Hospital have become more advanced than they were and we are confident that they can properly support the HIV community on their own, when previously they couldn’t.
‘We are also conscious of continuing to use charity money to fund a cause that we feel has become redundant, which is in itself a good thing.’