1985 saw the start of the journey which has now lead to 30 years of continuous HIV/Aids awareness and support work in the Thames Valley area. The Reading Area Aids Support Group, set up in 1985, set into motion what has today become known as TVPS. They provided a telephone help line called AIDSLINE, hardship funding, and a buddy (befriender) support system. At the time they were established there were only a few HIV+ clients.
Two years later a similar group was set up in East Berkshire called the AIDS Support Group (Windsor/Slough). The two groups later met and decided to form Reading Body Positive. The set up and running of the group was based on the model of the UK’s first support group – Body Positive – set up in London in 1985.
By 1993 there were several support groups in the Thames Valley and between them they decided to merge to form Thames Valley Body Positive, the forerunner to Thames Valley Positive Support. The rational for merging was to make it easier to source funding and to provide more effective support services for those with HIV throughout the Thames Valley. Another merger followed, this time with West Berks AIDS Support Group and Thames Valley Positive Support (TVPS) was established.
Today TVPS continues to grow, currently supporting 600 positive people across Berkshire. Advances in HIV medication mean that far fewer people in the UK die from the virus and the condition is manageable, sadly the stigma associated with HIV has not diminished over the years and we live in hope that one day HIV will be as accepted as any other long term condition.
For more information about TVPS please go to their website: http://www.tvps.org.uk/