Today I went to meet a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) in order to get political support for HIV positive women in Europe. The meeting was organized by Bristol Mayer Squibb (BMS) who are sponsoring the SHE+ programme , which I co-chair with Prof. Jane Anderson.
I, Jane Anderson, and two people from BMS arrived at the meeting in North London, in the very constituency of Margaret Thatcher. I was wearing my most conservative suit, it was actually dark blue. I almost looked like a banker.
MEP: Good morning I am ‘so and so’ , Member of the European Parliament.
Me: Good Morning, I am Silvia Petretti co-ordinator of PozFem, the national network of women with HIV in the UK, and also coördinator of WECARE the European network of positive women. I am myself HIV positive. I have lived with HIV for 14 years.
MEP: (eyes widening) You mean you have got ‘it‘ ??!!
Me: Yes I have lived with HIV for almost 15 years`
MEP: How did you get it, was it needles or sex…?
In spite of this awkward start, by the end of the meeting she agreed to set up a Public Hearing on Women and AIDS at the European Parliament in 2012.