Common misconceptions about HIV and how those with the virus are living their lives are revealed on a new podcast produced by a Sunderland academic, nationally recognised for his ground-breaking research into the subject.

Drew Dalton, a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University Of Sunderland, talks through the History of HIV in the latest Sunderland Talks podcast series.

The podcast aims to give a brief overview of the history of HIV and AIDS in the West, its origins and development, the social effects of it and how those living with the virus are able to live relatively normal lives thanks to the help and medications now available.

Drew says: “HIV is a unique virus with a unique social history.

“This podcast aims to explore the emergence of the virus and the role of stigma in the early days, including the remarkable breakthroughs that we have seen in recent years which have radically changed people’s lives.

“HIV is no longer (in the West) deadly to most people, but it does have a stigma around it that still needs to be tackled and discussed if we are ever going to make further progress.”

Drew has spent the last 15 plus years in campaigning and community work as both a paid staff member and volunteer, working alongside a wide range of adults and young people. He has set up two community organisations outside of his work: Thrive NE, an HIV organisation for those living with HIV in the North East of England as well as LGBT History Project, which documents the often forgotten lives of LGBT people and which trains teachers in schools and colleges on the issues.

Drew’s work highlights the issues of those living in poverty and socio-economically deprived areas of the North East, LGBT communities and persecuted LGBT Muslims, global human rights campaigns and those living with ‘hidden disabilities’ such as HIV. At the University of Sunderland, Drew has helped to introduce the first HIV policy for staff and is about to launch the first ever Charter Mark for businesses across the UK, which aims to tackle HIV-related stigma in places of employment. His research has highlighted the widespread stigma of HIV in the UK as well as the effects of government austerity measures on HIV organisations that are feeling the impact due to cuts in the sector.

He has also been nominated for various awards for his work within the LGBTQ community.

Sunderland Talks is a series of podcasts that bring together our experts to discuss big ideas and topical issues that tie in with their current and future research in their specialist field. Featuring in-depth conversations, the podcasts are intended to showcase their opinions and views on important matters as well as a route to insider knowledge on new trends and upcoming key issues. The series will cover a wide range of topics from gun control to gender fluidity as well as discussions of academic research within their specialist field.

The views expressed during these podcasts are purely those of the contributors at the time of broadcast, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University. The podcasts are also available to download or stream on iTunes and Spotify.