Britain lost a national hero yesterday when John Campbell succumbed to an HIV-related neurodegenerative disease. 39-year old Campbell shot to prominence in the gay activist community when he and three peers founded the UK Coalition of People Living with HIV and AIDS. Of the group’s 1993 founding, Campbell remarked to Positive Nation, the HIV-focused magazine he also founded:
I had already been disgusted with Aids organizations in the UK. I felt they were fundraising on our backs as people with HIV but not providing proper services.
I wanted the UKC to be the watchdog of the HIV sector; to champion human and civil rights. To get us out of the little corner where we were spat on and our houses set on fire and get us into the mainstream disability world. HIV would not have been included in the Disability Discrimination Act without the UKC.
Campbell, who once worked as a hustler, would go on to become a special government HIV adviser. Campbell’s UKC co-founder Terry White told Gay UK:
Knowing John as a partner, an activist, and a really remarkable and oftimes an infuriating person. I am truly saddened to hear he died in his sleep this morning. If you knew John you would have been through a rollercoaster of a ride and an uncompromising one. I for one will miss him very much.
Positive Nation‘s next issue will feature a special memorial for its founder.