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Local HIV Charity celebrate 25th anniversary

18 January 2016 13:00


Twenty five years ago this month, an event took place that would change people’s lives forever. In the midst of the AIDS epidemic a small group of determined people came together and turned the disused public swimming baths on Mile End Road into a beacon of hope and care. That small community project is now Positive East, London’s largest HIV Charity, which celebrates its silver jubilee.

In the earlier years, times were often sad, there was little hope and those infected were given a death sentence. Since medication was discovered in the late 90’s, the virus has become a long term manageable condition and is rarely the killer it was. As a result, there are now more people living with the condition than ever before, with nearly half of those infected in the UK, living in London.

“We have come a long way in 25 years" said Mark Santos, the Charity’s Director. ‘And as the needs of people living with HIV have evolved, so the services we have provided them have changed. We now do more counselling than anything else and help people to come to terms with a condition that they will grow old with. Sadly there is still a lot of HIV related stigma. Whilst medicine has improved enormously in the last quarter of a century, societal attitudes haven’t kept pace and people still face rejection, isolation and discrimination’, he added. ‘So as long as people need us, we will be there to help them’

Public Health England report that now there are over 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK and nearly half of them live in London. More than 6,000 people are diagnosed with the virus every year, with many people not finding out they are infected until they start to become ill. Early and regular testing for the virus is advised.

To mark their anniversary, Positive East is launching an online social network for their peer support volunteers – people with HIV who are helping others cope with their diagnosis. The network is hosted by HealthUnlocked, the world’s largest social network for health.

‘We are delighted to partner HealthUnlocked. They are helping us redefine how we deliver services, something we have always done and continue to do. An online network for people with HIV, run by people with HIV will be a vital part of the way we support people in the future’ said Mark Santos.

Notes to Editor
Positive East is a registered charity, number 1001582. They offer a wide range of services that help people from a point of crisis at first diagnosis of HIV to a place of sustained independence. Positive East is the largest HIV charity in London (as measured by turnover). HIV statistics from Public Health England – HIV in the UK – Situation Report 2015.
For more details visit, call 020 7791 2855 or email:

With over 600 health-specific communities encompassing long term conditions to wellbeing, 350,000 members and 4 million visits each month, HealthUnlocked - a London based company - is the largest Social Network for Patients in the world. HealthUnlocked mission is to transform people’s health experiences into useful knowledge that is available to everyone, everywhere.
The platform has partnered the NHS and over 600 patient organisations to offer communities focused on health topics relevant to real people.
For more information visit or email

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About HealthUnlocked

HealthUnlocked is a web platform and mobile application, which allows users to join moderated online health communities in which they can:
Gain access to useful information and relevant services,
Seek advice, support and mentorship from people like them,
Be empowered to make better healthcare decisions,
Help advance medical research and understanding.

Key Facts and Figures:
Launched in 2012 in London,
>300,000 Members spread across the globe,
>600 communities generating more than 3.5m visits a month,
70% of our members want to take part in research,
HealthUnlocked’s platform is used as a clinical tool in 75 hospitals in the UK.

Connecting with other people in one of the many online communities helps users to better manage their health by gaining access to relevant health information, trusted advice and peer support. All communities are moderated by experts and cover a huge variety of health topics from cancer to running and everything in between.

HealthUnlocked provides valuable services to patient organisations, care providers, payers, pharmaceutical companies and research organisations, which are designed to enhance care delivery, reduce utilisation of healthcare resource and provide unique access to real world patient insight and information.
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