Former British Culture Minister Announces He Has Had HIV for 17 Years, Says Mandela Inspired Him to Speak Out
January 31, 2005
Former British Culture Minister Chris Smith, who 20 years ago came out as Britain's first openly gay Member of Parliament, on Saturday announced that he has been HIV-positive for 17 years, London's Independent reports (Grice, Independent, 1/31). Smith said he was impelled to reveal his HIV status after former South African President Nelson Mandela earlier this month announced that his son had died of AIDS-related causes, according to London's Guardian (Hencke, Guardian, 1/31). Mandela announced that his son Makgatho, who was 54, died of AIDS-related pneumonia, ending weeks of speculation that he had AIDS. Mandela at a news conference said, "I announce that my son has died of AIDS," adding, "Let us give publicity to HIV/AIDS and not hide it because the only way to make it appear like a normal illness, like TB, like cancer, is always to come out and say somebody has died because of HIV/AIDS, and people will stop regarding it as something extraordinary" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/18). "What Nelson Mandela said very much struck a chord with me," Smith said, adding, "He spoke about how nobody should be ashamed of HIV and said that it should be regarded just like any other illness. He was brave and right" (AP/Los Angeles Times, 1/30). Smith, who said he told British Prime Minister Tony Blair of his HIV status a few weeks ago, said that Blair gave him his "full support," according to London's Daily Telegraph (Alleyne, Daily Telegraph, 1/31).
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2004 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.
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