Khan announces HIV/Aids memorial in ‘powerful message of solidarity’

City Hall puts £130,000 towards creating memorial in Fitzrovia near where the UK’s first dedicated HIV/Aids ward was opened by Princess Diana, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Sadiq Khan (credit GLA)
Sadiq Khan (credit GLA)

Sadiq Khan has committed £130,000 towards London’s first permanent memorial to victims of HIV/Aids.

Announcing the funding on World Aids Day, the mayor said the monument will send a “powerful message of solidarity” to “help address the stigma and discrimination faced by many who live with HIV”.

An artist commissioning process for the memorial is currently under way, with the monument expected to be in place by 2026.

It will be located near the former Middlesex Hospital in Fitzrovia, where the UK’s first dedicated HIV/Aids ward was opened by Princess Diana in 1987.

The charity behind the project, Aids Memory UK, has been in talks with the mayor’s commission for diversity in the public realm to develop the concept.

Ash Kotak, the charity’s CEO, said the memorial will ask “questions of justice; of cruel deaths; and of survival; of courage and activism; about ending HIV transmissions and Aids deaths too; and how we as human beings value the lives and experiences of those marginalised in society”.

Khan believes London is “on course” to end new HIV infections by 2030. The capital is said by City Hall to already be “the world-leading city for HIV diagnosis and treatment”, with 98% of HIV-diagnosed Londoners currently on treatment.

This week the mayor signed City Hall up to a ‘HIV Confident Charter’ – devised by a consortium of charities and aimed at tackling stigma and discrimination in the workplace.

The charter – which Khan is encouraging other organisations to sign up to – is being accompanied by an ambassadors programme, delivered in partnership with Terrence Higgins Trust.

Richard Angell, the trust’s chief executive, said: “This is about putting the stories of people living with HIV at the heart of London’s public services and corporate giants.

“Our brilliant ambassadors will not only be communicating the up-to-date facts about HIV, but really changing hearts and minds.

“Currently, people living with HIV still face unacceptably high levels of stigma, including rejection on dating apps, isolation in their communities and completely unnecessary double gloving in hospitals.

“We won’t let this continue on our watch and stigma must be smashed. London’s making great strides to end new HIV cases by 2030 and we can’t leave anyone behind.”

Earlier this year, the mayor announced that a memorial to the victims of the transatlantic slave trade will also be unveiled in 2026, located near Canary Wharf at West End Quay.