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  1. #1

    Choose Life: Edinburgh's Battle Against AIDS

    Did anyone else watch this documentary that has just finished on BBC One?

    It was morbidly fascinating and was quite informative about a part of Edinburgh's history I'm aware of but woefully ignorant about the detail. It was interesting to see how wrong the Police got it, and heartening to hear the officers from the time acknowledge the fact and point out the futility of a 'war on drugs'. It was also interesting to see the ethical questions raised by the way blood was tested and the inability of the NHS to cope with the sheer scale of the issue.

    A desperately sad watch but I'd recommend it. A well made, balanced documentary.


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  3. #2
    @hibs.net private member Mibbes Aye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pretty Boy View Post
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    Did anyone else watch this documentary that has just finished on BBC One?

    It was morbidly fascinating and was quite informative about a part of Edinburgh's history I'm aware of but woefully ignorant about the detail. It was interesting to see how wrong the Police got it, and heartening to hear the officers from the time acknowledge the fact and point out the futility of a 'war on drugs'. It was also interesting to see the ethical questions raised by the way blood was tested and the inability of the NHS to cope with the sheer scale of the issue.

    A desperately sad watch but I'd recommend it. A well made, balanced documentary.
    I recorded it, will hopefully watch it over the next couple of days and am looking forward to it, albeit in a gruesome way.

    Growing up in Edinburgh in my lifetime, it was a massive influence on my generation. The impact of heroin, the impact of HIV and AIDS. Fascinated to see it but appreciate it wonít be a cheery watch.
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    @hibs.net private member Bristolhibby's Avatar
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    Is it on catchup?

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  5. #4
    @hibs.net private member Ozyhibby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pretty Boy View Post
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    Did anyone else watch this documentary that has just finished on BBC One?

    It was morbidly fascinating and was quite informative about a part of Edinburgh's history I'm aware of but woefully ignorant about the detail. It was interesting to see how wrong the Police got it, and heartening to hear the officers from the time acknowledge the fact and point out the futility of a 'war on drugs'. It was also interesting to see the ethical questions raised by the way blood was tested and the inability of the NHS to cope with the sheer scale of the issue.

    A desperately sad watch but I'd recommend it. A well made, balanced documentary.
    An excellent documentary. Itís pretty sad that the lessons they learned in those 10 years werenít taken to the next level as far as the war on drugs is concerned.
    It was sad to watch and it hit my family hard but crazily I still watched with a feeling of nostalgia, seeing places I knew and hung around as a kid. The recovery to those areas has been massive.


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    @hibs.net private member speedy_gonzales's Avatar
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    From '86 until '92 I went to Firrhill High School and when Milestone House opened (literally next door) we were blessed with folk diagnosed with AIDS visit us and speak to senior pupils about "their" story.
    Young people being young people we were quite idealistic about things and these brave individuals were greeted with open arms, then, when an opportunity arose I actually went for a job at the age of 16 to work within the infectious diseases ward at the City Hospital (and by extension, Milestone House) but when the media and local community found out I and a handful of others had to be let go because of a backlash in regards to the use of young (willing) people and the contentious issue of HIV/AIDS.
    People didn't just die from ignorance, but they were also denied legitimate help/support because of ignorance!

  7. #6
    Coaching Staff HUTCHYHIBBY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pretty Boy View Post
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    Did anyone else watch this documentary that has just finished on BBC One?

    It was morbidly fascinating and was quite informative about a part of Edinburgh's history I'm aware of but woefully ignorant about the detail. It was interesting to see how wrong the Police got it, and heartening to hear the officers from the time acknowledge the fact and point out the futility of a 'war on drugs'. It was also interesting to see the ethical questions raised by the way blood was tested and the inability of the NHS to cope with the sheer scale of the issue.

    A desperately sad watch but I'd recommend it. A well made, balanced documentary.
    Just finished watching it, interesting stuff.

  8. #7
    @hibs.net private member lord bunberry's Avatar
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    Iíve just watched it as well, it was a bit weird watching a film about something so horrible that was happening all around me at the time, but other than seeing it on the news from time to time I wasnít really aware of it. Such a shame that all those lives were lost and are still being lost.

    United we stand here....

  9. #8
    @hibs.net private member wpj's Avatar
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    I recall working with an agency in the 80s. We were working with a removal company delivering some furniture and sent to a hospice for HIV patients. Some colleagues refused to go in. What I saw that day has stuck with me, so tragic seeing these people as there was no chance in those days.
    On a happier note I am friends with Matt Sargent who has played with numerous punk bands, he has worked tirelessly on various projects including this https://louderthanwar.com/various-ar...-album-review/
    Happy to say he has long passed the original prognosis and is still gigging away. Check out the list of people on the album, those of us of a certain age will recognise many of the names.

  10. #9
    @hibs.net private member Mibbes Aye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by speedy_gonzales View Post
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    From '86 until '92 I went to Firrhill High School and when Milestone House opened (literally next door) we were blessed with folk diagnosed with AIDS visit us and speak to senior pupils about "their" story.
    Young people being young people we were quite idealistic about things and these brave individuals were greeted with open arms, then, when an opportunity arose I actually went for a job at the age of 16 to work within the infectious diseases ward at the City Hospital (and by extension, Milestone House) but when the media and local community found out I and a handful of others had to be let go because of a backlash in regards to the use of young (willing) people and the contentious issue of HIV/AIDS.
    People didn't just die from ignorance, but they were also denied legitimate help/support because of ignorance!
    That is shocking re the ignorance, but sadly not surprising. If you were working in health the ignorance and discrimination around transmittable diseases was huge at that time. It also went beyond that. For example the discrimination and ignorance and lack of acknowledgement for human rights for people with mental health issues or those seen as having a learning disability.

    Things have moved on a wee bit, not enough. Not as much as I suspect you or I would like.

    Keep raising it as an issue every time you feel it is slipping. Someone will back you up. Anyone with a conscience will find the time or spare a post to back you up. Got to have faith in just keeping pushing the message.
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  11. #10
    It brought up a lot of memories for me, growing up on the ramps in my young to mid teenage years.
    I actually remember adults in conversation saying "Send them tae an island "

    It was so rife, it became the norm.
    A knock on the door asking for a teaspoon was fairly regular.

  12. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by speedy_gonzales View Post
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    From '86 until '92 I went to Firrhill High School and when Milestone House opened (literally next door) we were blessed with folk diagnosed with AIDS visit us and speak to senior pupils about "their" story.
    Young people being young people we were quite idealistic about things and these brave individuals were greeted with open arms, then, when an opportunity arose I actually went for a job at the age of 16 to work within the infectious diseases ward at the City Hospital (and by extension, Milestone House) but when the media and local community found out I and a handful of others had to be let go because of a backlash in regards to the use of young (willing) people and the contentious issue of HIV/AIDS.
    People didn't just die from ignorance, but they were also denied legitimate help/support because of ignorance!
    I grew up in Colinton Mains. I started at St Marks Primary in 1991 and remember everyone getting sent home one day because a pupil had picked up a used needle in the playground, walked into the school and handed it to a teacher.

    There was always people banging our door wanting my parents to sign petitions against Milestone House. Even when it became clear that HIV wasn't going to be transmitted by coughing or shaking hands there was still a wilful ignorance and talk of a 'plague on our doorsteps.'

    On a somewhat unrelated note I got a huge pang of nostalgia seeing the old Oxgangs high flats and the playpark in Colinton Mains Park on the documentary. Many good memories of long summers days playing football for hours on end there.

  13. #12
    @hibs.net private member speedy_gonzales's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pretty Boy View Post
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    On a somewhat unrelated note I got a huge pang of nostalgia seeing the old Oxgangs high flats and the playpark in Colinton Mains Park on the documentary. Many good memories of long summers days playing football for hours on end there.
    Ha, yeah, I literally jumped off the couch when I seen that helter skelter, like you, great memories of spending long hot summers there on the pitches.
    Re petitioning, you might be a bit too young to remember but there was also a rabid local (to Colinton Mains/Oxgangs)movement against the council moving in hundreds of families from Wester Hailes & North Edinburgh to the immediate area. Again, the fear of intravenous drug use and HIV were the drivers of the intolerance,,,, we really weren't that nice a society back then.

  14. #13
    @hibs.net private member Ozyhibby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by speedy_gonzales View Post
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    Ha, yeah, I literally jumped off the couch when I seen that helter skelter, like you, great memories of spending long hot summers there on the pitches.
    Re petitioning, you might be a bit too young to remember but there was also a rabid local (to Colinton Mains/Oxgangs)movement against the council moving in hundreds of families from Wester Hailes & North Edinburgh to the immediate area. Again, the fear of intravenous drug use and HIV were the drivers of the intolerance,,,, we really weren't that nice a society back then.
    Mrs Ozyhibby is on the Corstorphine friendly village Facebook page and they are not slow to get the pitchforks out on that page. People are quick to rise up against any threat, real or imagined. I remember the fear around that time and can understand peopleís reactions. I was in high school when the AIDS epidemic kicked off and people were terrified, especially when they realised it wasnít just gay people and drugs users.


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    @hibs.net private member J-C's Avatar
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    I watched it and it brought back a lot of sad memories of people I knew who lost their lives through heroin addiction. I also don't think people realised how much the gay scene in Edinburgh boosted the Aides rise then, a massive cocktail of sharing needles and unprotected sex.

  16. #15
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    Watched it last night when it was on. Growing up in muirhouse during that period albeit quite a young lad I remember it being a bad place but last night brought home how bad it was. The alarming thing for me was at the end where they said there is a new HIV epidemic in Glasgow for the same reasons sharing needles it's so sad that lessons weren't learnt the first time round

  17. #16
    Haven't seen it but remember only too clearly friends dying from sharing needles. I never used needles myself, but 2 of my 3 friends who did died. The third has no idea to this day as to how indiscriminate this terrible disease could be. He's been working for the last 30 years helping to counsel people still struggling with drug related issues and tells me it's as bad as it's ever been. Depressing indeed.

  18. #17
    @hibs.net private member lord bunberry's Avatar
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    The heartbreaking thing for me was when they kept showing pictures of them as kids before they were addicted to heroin. They were just kids like we all were who made the wrong choices at the time. I often think what I would’ve done if I’d been a teenager at that time. Every generation has their thing with drugs, in the 60s it was lsd and the 70s mostly weed, in the 80s it was heroin, in the 90s it was ecstasy. I was very easily roped into the ecstasy culture in the 90s and I wonder if I’d been born earlier if I might’ve been just as easily roped into the heroin scene. It’s a scary thought, but at the time it would have been very similar.
    Last edited by lord bunberry; 07-12-2019 at 12:41 AM.

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  19. #18
    It was a really interesting watch. I never really heard of the cheap flights before easyJet took off.

    My wife works down west pilton/muirhouse and was really surprised when she mentioned a name. I thought the heroin would have taken him a long time ago.

  20. #19
    Testimonial Due The Harp Awakes's Avatar
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    I watched the documentary and it brought back a lot of memories of growing up in the early 80s in Edinburgh. There definitely was a fairly widely held view at the time that AIDS was God's punishment on homosexuality. It was seen by many as a gay disease so why should anyone care.

    For all the problems we face in 2019 thankfully attitudes have changed massively compared to 40 years ago.
    Last edited by The Harp Awakes; 08-12-2019 at 10:43 AM.

  21. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Pretty Boy View Post
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    I grew up in Colinton Mains. I started at St Marks Primary in 1991 and remember everyone getting sent home one day because a pupil had picked up a used needle in the playground, walked into the school and handed it to a teacher.

    There was always people banging our door wanting my parents to sign petitions against Milestone House. Even when it became clear that HIV wasn't going to be transmitted by coughing or shaking hands there was still a wilful ignorance and talk of a 'plague on our doorsteps.'

    On a somewhat unrelated note I got a huge pang of nostalgia seeing the old Oxgangs high flats and the playpark in Colinton Mains Park on the documentary. Many good memories of long summers days playing football for hours on end there.
    Do you remember a certain member of our family trying to coerse us all to go to the local open meeting to try and stop getting Milestone House built? He was convinced that there were would be muggings, house breaking etc by the patients and their visiting relatives and friends trying to get money for drugs. Ignorance at it's best.

  22. #21
    @hibs.net private member Hibernia&Alba's Avatar
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    I didn't see it. Is it on BBC i-player?
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  23. #22
    @hibs.net private member lord bunberry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hibernia&Alba View Post
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    I didn't see it. Is it on BBC i-player?
    It is mate.

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  24. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by lord bunberry View Post
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    The heartbreaking thing for me was when they kept showing pictures of them as kids before they were addicted to heroin. They were just kids like we all were who made the wrong choices at the time. I often think what I wouldíve done if Iíd been a teenager at that time. Every generation has their thing with drugs, in the 60s it was lsd and the 70s mostly weed, in the 80s it was heroin, in the 90s it was ecstasy. I was very easily roped into the ecstasy culture in the 90s and I wonder if Iíd been born earlier if I mightíve been just as easily roped into the heroin scene. Itís a scary thought, but at the time it would have been very similar.
    You might've tried it out of curiosity but got out of there before developing a habit if you paid attention.

  25. #24
    Private Members Prediction League Winner Hibrandenburg's Avatar
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    A decent snapshot of Thatcher's Scotland. It was ****ing dire for those at the bottom of the food chain.

  26. #25
    @hibs.net private member lord bunberry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Killiehibbie View Post
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    You might've tried it out of curiosity but got out of there before developing a habit if you paid attention.
    Iíd like to think so.

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  27. #26
    @hibs.net private member speedy_gonzales's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hibrandenburg View Post
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    A decent snapshot of Thatcher's Scotland. It was ****ing dire for those at the bottom of the food chain.
    Do you genuinely believe one person/cabinet created the environment for this affair?
    From lack of opportunity, archaic policing, cheap availability of the drugs, health professionals a step behind,a then,unknown virus,,,,
    It was a perfect storm, in the worst kind of way, but I'm not sure we can lay the blame at the feet of one person or government.

  28. #27
    Private Members Prediction League Winner Hibrandenburg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by speedy_gonzales View Post
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    Do you genuinely believe one person/cabinet created the environment for this affair?
    From lack of opportunity, archaic policing, cheap availability of the drugs, health professionals a step behind,a then,unknown virus,,,,
    It was a perfect storm, in the worst kind of way, but I'm not sure we can lay the blame at the feet of one person or government.

    Where did I say all that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by lord bunberry View Post
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    It is mate.

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    @hibs.net private member speedy_gonzales's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hibrandenburg View Post
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    Where did I say all that?
    Maybe it's the pre-christmas sherry I might have had last night but I took "Thatcher's Scotland" as being the catalyst or driver for the then social issues that created the wildfire like spread of infection.
    If you were simply using the name to highlight a period of time as we do with the Royal family of the day (Victorian/Georgian) then I hold my hand up and apologise for misinterpreting your post.

  31. #30
    @hibs.net private member lord bunberry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by speedy_gonzales View Post
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    Maybe it's the pre-christmas sherry I might have had last night but I took "Thatcher's Scotland" as being the catalyst or driver for the then social issues that created the wildfire like spread of infection.
    If you were simply using the name to highlight a period of time as we do with the Royal family of the day (Victorian/Georgian) then I hold my hand up and apologise for misinterpreting your post.
    I took it to mean the conditions people were living in. When you saw the clips from the areaís featured in the documentary I couldnít believe that such a short time ago people were living in places like that. The whole area was so run down it was unbelievable. Even the woman in the film made comments about how much it had changed since then.

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