OUT IN THE FIELD: Why are we still ignorant over HIV?

WITH Annemarie Field relaxing in the Eastbourne sun this week, her column has been handed to one of her colleagues.

I WAS SHOCKED earlier this week when I spoke to a local woman with HIV who said she thought that in many cases people were more ignorant about the virus than they were 20 years ago.

The woman (who is featured on page 17) believes that because fewer and fewer people are dying from the condition, less attention is given to educating people about how to prevent spreading it.

It seems that increased success in treating the virus comes at a price as people take less seriously the physical repercussions of contracting it.

Much of the ignorance surrounding how HIV can be spread still exists.

It seems that, as a society, we have not come very far from the days when Princes Diana was praised for having the bravery to shake hands with a sufferer.

However, other parts of Europe are lagging even further behind.

In Greece, officials rounded up prostitutes, forced them to have HIV tests and then published photos and names of the women who tested positive.

Some were locked up while others had their homes attacked by vigilantes. As the lady I interviewed says, contacting HIV could happen to anyone.

We need a far more empathetic approach to the illness.

Read the lady’s story. It really is eye-opening and it might change your perception of the disease’s many victims.

EASTBOURNE’s Town Team found out this week that their bid for a share of the Portas Pilot pot of cash was unsuccessful.

I can’t say I am at all surprised. Eastbourne is in a far better state than most towns in the country and has a £70million revamp of the Arndale Centre to look forward to.

Anyone who thought for a second it would be picked was living in cloud cuckoo land.

What would help the town though would be greater rate relief for start-up businesses and a more pro-active approach to filling empty units – particularly flagship ones on the way into the Arndale Centre.

How about turning them into temporary art galleries or opening them up to young entrepreneurs? We don’t need Mary Portas or her cash to make that happen.

LAST WEEK I had the pleasure of spending some time with green-fingered locals at a disabled allotmenting scheme.

Seeing people who have not been dealt the best hand rolling up their sleeves and getting on with things was inspiring and Carol Webb, who helps run the project, deserves huge praise for the work she is doing.

You can read about the club on page 21. They need some help. It would be great if some Herald readers could provide it.