A ceilidh is to be held in Blairgowrie this weekend organised by local woman Tricia Titheridge to raise money for children living with HIV in Africa.
It is a cause very close to Tricia’s heart as she has been living with HIV herself after being infected following a blood transfusion in England in 1984.
Tricia, 57, has been fighting to secure support and justice from the UK government for a number of years for other people in her situation.
She has given evidence at a number of enquiries including the Archer Enquiry, which was set up to investigate the circumstances surrounding patients receiving contaminated NHS blood and to look at what could be done to help. She has also written a book about her experiences, called Cheating the Reaper.
Tricia and her husband Dick, 60, received just £80,000 in compensation in 2004, an amount which they say was awarded “on the assumption of [Tricia’s] imminent death”.
They received the money through the Eileen Trust which supports people who have become HIV-positive because of NHS treatment. Of 450 original members, only 19 are still alive.
Tricia said: “My health now is better than it has been for years but it has not been an easy ride. I was given six months to live. Although we have made some progress, we still haven’t secured justice or adequate compensation from the UK government.
“I feel as though they have stolen my whole life. Dick and I suspected in 1984 that I could have been infected but we were told by the hospital it was impossible. I developed mouth ulcers and my health deteriorated, my medical records were lost and no one ever considered that I could have been infected despite us telling them about the blood transfusion.
“I was finally diagnosed in January 2003 after collapsing at home on Boxing Day. I have had secondary infections, bronchitis, muscle wastage, inflammation of the brain, HIV dementia. I was made redundant, and had my career taken away from me, and the compensation we were awarded was less than the minimum wage.
“Britain is the only country not to have paid out for this.”
Pete Wishart MP has been a long-term supporter of Tricia and her fight for justice. He said: “I am delighted to help publicise both Tricia Titheridge’s book and the fundraising event at which it will receive its official release.
“Tricia is an absolute inspiration. From the years in which she struggled with mysterious unknown illnesses to the subsequent battles and worries that came along with diagnosis, she has faced her challenges with fortitude and determination.
“She is now bringing out a book in which she tells her own story and I have no doubt that it will be an absolutely captivating read. I am really looking forward to the forthcoming launch which, typically, will be used as a platform to raise funds for an HIV-related charity in Malawi.”
Tricia’s book about her story will be officially launched at the fundraising ceilidh which takes place on Saturday in the Royal Hotel, Blairgowrie, from 7.30pm. Tickets cost £10 and are available from the Royal Hotel or from Tricia on 875033, all proceeds to the Livingstonia Synod AIDS Project in Northern Malawi.