Islington volunteer marks World AIDS Day with 30km charity walk

Man, Eugene Lynch, standing in the road, smiling, with a number of flags on his back and a rainbow sign reading "Terrence...

Eugene Lynch was diagnosed with HIV in 2013. - Credit: Eugene Lynch

An Islington volunteer has walked to 15 London landmarks in the history of HIV and AIDS to raise money for a sexual health charity.

Eugene Lynch, who has been volunteering for the Caledonian-based Terrence Higgins Trust for over two years, and a group of his friends raised over £1,000 on his JustGiving page after the challenge on Sunday, December 6.

His 30km route cut through Islington, including sites such as the Terrence Higgins Trust's head office on Caledonian Road; the headquarters of another leading charity supporting people living with HIV, Positively UK; and Housmans Bookshop, which housed the first helpline for LGBT people in the 1970s.

Eugene said: “World AIDS Day is usually the biggest fundraising day of the year [for AIDS-related charities], so I decided that I wanted to do a ribbon-shaped walk, as the ribbon is the symbol to raise awareness for people living with HIV.”

Diagnosed with HIV in 2013, Eugene spoke of how important the Terrence Higgins Trust has been for him: “After struggling to come to terms with my diagnosis for many years, which had deeply impacted my mental and physical health, in 2018, I contacted the charity to access their counselling service.


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"I found this unbelievably helpful as it was the first time I was able to be truly honest about how I’d been feeling and it was a real turning point in my life.”

Eugene added: “The charity is not only incredible for getting the message out about the stigma around HIV, it provides individual support for those who truly need it.”

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The money Eugene raises will help the HIV and sexual health charity as it faces increased demand for its services due to the pandemic.

Since the Terrence Higgins Trust moved its head offices to Caledonian Road this autumn, it has largely remained shut due to Covid-19 government restrictions. However, Eugene explained the variety of facilities the site will offer: “The helpline service is currently open for those who need advice and support. There will also be several treatment areas and complementary therapy for those living with HIV, with seminar rooms where people can get counselling and free information on HIV and other sexual health queries.”

For more information, visit https://www.tht.org.uk/

To donate to Eugene's fundraiser, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/redribbonhivhistorywalk

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