The truth about HIV.

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About this work


Dr Chris van Tulleken presents a programme about HIV with Elton John and Prince Harry as contributors. van Tulleken specialises in HIV research and in the programme he talks to people living with the condition. The programme starts with the iconic AIDS Don't Die of Ignorance' television campaign (a digital copy is in the collection) . Currently, there are powerful new drugs and van Tulleken is keen to look at destigmatising testing so people can take advantage of this. Lizzie's husband died very quickly of an AIDs related illness without knowing he was HIV positive. Lizzie is now living with HIV and works in education. Tulleken explains what HIV is and how it becomes AIDS. Caroline Bradbear was a doctor working during the crisis in the 1980s when the prognosis for infected patients was poor. Dr Stephane Hue, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, talks about how the HIV gene has been analysed in order to discover its origins and a map indicates that patient zero was a single person between 1910-30. The virus was most likely introduced into the human population via bush meat (via butchered chimpanzee blood). Gerry Paterson is an HIV survivor from the 1980s and encountered Caroline Bradbear who treated him. Gerry recounts the terrible disfiguring side effects of the disease; lesions, molluscum, facial atrophy. Gerry took the new medication and it has kept his condition under control. The issue of most concern today and one which is addressed in the programme is around regular testing, even in Tulleken's laboratory where they are exposed to the live virus there is reluctance. He carries out the test live on air (as he indicates, the test is simple like a pregnancy test). There are 6000 people who are tested positive in the UK every year; a man in his early thirties, Michael, went ahead with testing and was stunned to hear he is positive.There are two drugs to take every day for the rest of his life; genuinely a miracle drug as he discovers when he goes to hospital to have his viral load tested. A woman infected by HIV but unaware of her HIV status had a brain infection which has given her stroke like symptoms, unable to walk unaided or speak easily. Her nurse describes the situation when she first treated her at the Mildmay Hospital in London - a hospital which was supported by Princess Diana of Wales. Prince Harry is following in his mother's footsteps and supports HIV/AIDS work; he meets up with the woman and Tulleken. Tulleken visits South Africa where 200,000 people die every year of HIV/AIDS. The United Nations has a 90-90-90 campaign and Tulleken looks at how this can be implemented. A teenage girl explains how she was infected by an older man. Tulleken goes to a bar and discusses why he doesn't get tested. The men mention a lack confidentiality in the clinics. A new strategy is in operation whereby people are tested in their homes; an older man benfitted from this new approach. Professor Deenan Pillay evaluates the success of the United Nation's 90-90-90 campaign. The final barrier to success is behaviour change and persauding those infected to seek treatment in the clinics. Harry Dodd is a man who is undergoing a drug trial for 'PrEP'; Professor Sheena McCormack from the Medical Research Council describes its benefits. There is a three year trial in England and Wales, although the drug is now free in Scotland. Tulleken analyses some of the associated press coverage. Professor Greg Towers comments on this; in the future the drug will be widely available, however, a 'cure' for HIV looks unlikely.



Physical description

1 DVD (58 min.) : sound, colour ; 12 cm

Copyright note

Sundog Pictures Production for BBC.


Originally broadcast on 25th May 2017 on BBC 1.

Creator/production credits

Produced and directed by Dan Child.
Presented by Dr Chris van Tulleken.



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