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1989: Diana opens Landmark Aids Centre

The Princess of Wales has opened a new Aids centre in south-east London.

She gave director Jonathan Grimshaw - diagnosed HIV positive five years ago - a firm handshake before going inside the Landmark Centre in Tulse Hill for a private tour.

This was the first attempt to de-stigmatise the condition by a high profile member of the Royal Family

Mr Grimshaw said: "The princess was genuinely moved by the difficulties facing patients."

The Landmark aims to be more than just a refuge and will offer advice and support on issues from housing to dietary needs.

Princess Diana spent an hour in the community-based centre and joined in a discussion group with some of the first clients to use the facility, including women.

She was surprised to learn about the additional prejudices women with Aids and HIV have to deal with.

First case

"I think it's terrible what they have to go through," she said.

Afterwards the Princess of Wales went on an impromptu walkabout, in spite of the heat.

Aids - Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome - was first recognised as a medical condition in the US in 1981.

Later that year Dr Tony Pinching diagnosed the first case in the UK, in a heterosexual woman, at St Mary's Praed Street Clinic in London.

By the end of 1984, 108 people were known to be suffering from the disease in the UK and there had been 46 deaths.

In 1985 the Department of Health published its first advice on Aids and it was reported in 51 countries.

Within two years the government launched the "Don't Die of Ignorance" public awareness campaign and Princess Diana opened the country's first Aids ward at Middlesex Hospital.

The symptoms of Aids include chronic fatigue, diarrhoea and severe skin rashes.

It is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and there is no known cure.

In Context
Early in 2001 the services provided by Landmark were integrated with Lighthouse, part of the Terrence Higgins Trust, and became known as Lighthouse South London.

Richard Hill became director of the centre. Jonathan Grimshaw is a consultant and has received an MBE for his work with Aids.

The Landmark Centre at Tulse Hill provided a drop-in service for Aids and HIV positive sufferers until the facility moved to Waterloo in summer 2002.

The World Health report listed Aids as one of the fourth biggest global killers in 1999.

Princess Diana's work in de-stigmatising the illness was recognised by the National Aids Trust with the first Diana Princess of Wales Lecture on Aids, given in 1999.


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