My thoughts on...

Remembering, rediscovering, Robert Crosland Bell

A Eulogy for my father, Robert Crosland Bell, given at his memorial on Sunday 2 October 2022 Robert Crosland Bell, 13 October 1930 – 13 September 2019 My father, Robert Crosland Bell, was born on 13 October in 1930 in a nursing home on a small suburban street in Ealing, West London suburb. I would say […]

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Barbara Kruger

My body is a battleground

Criminalising abortion: Why your body is still a battleground – Published in the Daily Maverick, 26 June 2022 In early May 2022, I changed my Facebook profile picture to the iconic Barbara Kruger image: “Your body is a battleground”.  The image dates back to 1989. Kruger was already well known for her feminist activist art when […]

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Keeping COVID at bay

The quarantine convert: Balancing public health and human rights, Published in the Daily Maverick, 14 December 2021 My public health brain approaches Omicron with an abundance of caution. What matters is not where it came from, but where it is going, and how to stop it in its tracks. As smart scientists race to find out […]

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Slamming the Stable door in South Africa’s face

Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t smack travel restrictions on others: The real view from Britain’s Covid-19 crisis – Published in the Daily Maverick, 29 November 2021 This is all so boringly predictable. Not just the mutations; the messy responses, too. On day two of the global Omicron panic I wake up to messages littered […]

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Sarah Middleton-Lee: 24/08/1966 – 25/06/2021

The Guardian, Other Lives, 03/09/2021 (edited version): Sarah Middleton-Lee, much-loved friend and lynchpin to a global community of AIDS consultants and advocates, has died of breast cancer two months short of her 55th birthday. Sarah was one of the unsung heroines of the global AIDS response. She would have dismissed this as hyperbole, yet her […]

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A life lived in pandemics – published in The Independent, 15 June 2021

New epidemics demand humility, curiosity and hope. On 5 June 1981, the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) published its first report of pneumocystis carinii pneumonia in five gay men in Los Angeles, California; on 5 January 2020 the World Health Organisation (WHO) published its first report of pneumonia of unknown cause in 44 patents […]

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Arrivederci Virginia Gorna, e Grazie

A Eulogy to my mother, Virginia Gorna, given at her funeral on Thursday 18 February 2021 Virginia Gorna, 20 January 1942 – 3 February 2021 When my sons, Jovin & Arun, were babies I used to sing them a lullaby, and this was the refrain: “You can be anybody you want to be, You can […]

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Quality, well informed #LongCOVID guidelines would be NICE

LongCOVID guidelines need to reflect lived experience, published in the Lancet, 18 December 2020 Co-authored with Nathalie MacDermott, Clare Rayner, Margaret O’Hara, Sophie Evans, Lisa Agyen, Will Nutland, Natalie Rogers, Claire Hastie Since May, 2020,1 increasing attention has been given to the experiences of people with COVID-19 whose symptoms persist for 4 or more weeks. According […]

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International AIDS Conference 2010 Vienna

Action Now!

#Long Covid: Time for Action, published by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, 29 October 2020 Blog post written with Dr Will Nutland, Clare Shakya Every day our phones ping with the same message: “Testing alone can’t get us through the second wave.” Dutifully, we log in to the ZOE Covid-19 Symptom Study app, […]

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An Early Case of Zoom

You’re on Mute! ed. Dr Alex Connock Awkwardly, the first time I forgot the mute button was on a call with thirty public health and human rights experts, from five continents. It was mid-May 2020 and we were exchanging tips on how to make sure that gender equity and human rights are at the heart […]

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Corona Rollercoaster

Living with Lingering Covid-19 is an unpredictable roller coaster of a ride, Published in the Daily Maverick, 18 June 2020 It is striking how many of us living with Covid-19 are desperate for more research into this new and scary virus. The simplistic binary messaging – ‘nasty bout of flu’, or fatal disease in the elderly’ […]

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Rest in Power, Larry Kramer

Larry Kramer, 25 June 1935 – 27 May 2020, Obituary – Published in the Daily Maverick, 28 May 2020 Larry Kramer changed my life. Kramer, who died on 27 May 2020 in New York City, aged 84, was known for the sheer force of his anger and rage. His writing and AIDS activism inspired generations of […]

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A pesky virus on my lungs

Living with Covid-19 infection is weird as hell, Published in the Daily Maverick, 19 May 2020 I suspect I’m the original Covid-19 bore.  I’m the one you’d sneak away from at a cocktail party – if we still had those. My family has had enough of my excessive lectures, demonstrations of correct hand washing, disinfecting surfaces […]

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In or out?

Boris and the Great British Bungle, Published in the Daily Maverick, 14 May 2020 On Wednesday, the UK was meant to be coming out of lockdown. Maybe. Or maybe not. No one was really quite sure. Almost as many people in the UK have watched an 18-second video by Matt Lucas, star of TV’s Little Britain, […]

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Equal Opportunities Virus?

Covid-19: A hard truth – poverty kills Published in Daily Maverick, 6 May 2020 The latest UK statistics on Covid-19 show the unrelenting climb in deaths – and with every weekly update we hear a more complex story. We now have over 10% of the global caseload: 29,427 recorded by 5 May (possibly well over 30,000 by the […]

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Who cares for care workers?

Published in Daily Maverick, 28 April 2020 On 25 April 2020, the UK government announced that the steeply climbing Covid-19 death toll had surpassed 20,000. The figure is shocking. Last month, the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Sir Patrick Vallance, said keeping the UK’s final Covid-19 death toll below 20,000 would be ‘a good outcome’. However, […]

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Aids Society

How to have sex in an epidemic

Safer sex in the time of Covid; the urgent need to keep vital services funded Published in Maverick Citizen, 14 April 2020 Michael Callen was my earliest activist crush. I loved his skilful combination of rage, scientific smarts and creativity. The lyrics to his Aids anthems have been bouncing around in my head ever since I flicked […]

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Don’t sacrifice science to expediency

AIDS Lessons for Covid-19 Published in Daily Maverick, 9 April 2020 A 55-year-old man is not very well. It’s dominating the British media. We’re being fed a mix of infomercials disguised as stories (trying to enforce poorly presented health promotion messages) and barely disguised panic about what happens if (don’t say it out loud) a […]

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Underfunded & under pressure

Covid-19 puts Britain’s NHS in intensive care Published in Maverick Citizen, 7 April 2020 It feels indecent to be pointing fingers, when – as I write – Boris Johnson, the architect of the UK’s national response to Covid-19, is being wheeled into an intensive care ward in one of the best NHS hospitals in London. […]

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Shame, Stigma & Sexuality

Sarah’s story Redux – sadly. 28/01/2020 I spent Mothers Day 2011 in Hammanskraal – a poor informal settlement about an hour’s drive from Pretoria, South Africa’s capital city. My friend Anna & I were visiting a family we love dearly; my second family. We took bags of fried chicken, mealies, fizzy pop and lots of […]

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