A 25-year-old HIV campaigner has reportedly died of AIDS-related illness in Scotland.
Ross Scott, of Kirkcaldy, found out he had HIV in early 2017 after he began to develop health problems. A week ago he was placed in hospice care and warned he didn’t have long to live.
It’s rare for people in the UK to die of AIDS-related illnesses, with the National Health Service immediately placing those diagnosed with HIV on antiretroviral therapy.
However, if they have lived with HIV for a long time without knowing, treatment can be less effective.
Yesterday, local paper The Courier shared Ross’ story. Just hours after it was published, Ross lost his fight for life.
Nathan Sparling, chief executive of HIV Scotland, said Ross’ case was “quite unique”, and encouraged everyone to get tested for HIV. All sexually-active gay men should be tested at least annually, or more often if they have multiple partners or believe they’ve put themselves at risk.
Sparling said, “You don’t often see people in the final stages of AIDS anymore.
“It just shows there’s a lot more work to do because it was a shock to me to see this particular incident.”
Ross’ mother, Karen Scott, told the paper her son first sought medical help in late 2016.
“He had a near-fatal infection in his nose and throat, and after numerous trips to the doctors, it was getting worse and worse, the antibiotics were not doing anything.”
It was first thought the infection was impetigo, and then MRSA.
“He ended up going into Ninewells Hospital,” his mother says. “There they discovered he was HIV positive, and he brought in 2017 with that life-changing news.
“It was a big shock to everyone.
“He knew he had nothing to fear and wanted to help educate other people, because even in this day and age people don’t understand a lot of things about HIV, such as how it is transmitted.
“But he was told in the summer he had AIDS and the doctors said they would be surprised if he makes it to Christmas.”
In a heartbreaking Facebook posting, Ross revealed his local pub had arranged a Christmas dinner for him early in case he didn’t live to see the holidays.
After his diagnosis, Ross, a volunteer with Perthshire Pride, was open about his status and set about raising awareness of HIV via social media.
Perthshire Pride has said that it will rename one of its stages in his honor, The Ross William Robertson Scott Stage, at this year’s event.
A cousin of Scott’s, Julie Shand, 32, has set up a GoFundMe, to help cover his funeral costs. It has already hit two-thirds of its £3,000 target.
In an updated post this morning, she shared the news of Ross’ passing.
“Last night, 14/01/20, I received a call from Ross’ sister Katrina…Ross gained his angel wings. Ross died peacefully in hospice surrounded by family. Surrounded by love.”
Nathan Sparling, Chief Executive of HIV Scotland, told the Queerty, “Ross was a kind, passionate young man and the news of his passing is indeed incredibly sad.
“Having known Ross personally, I know that he would want nothing less than for anyone else to be in a similar position. It is incredibly important for anyone who may have been at risk of HIV to get tested and know their status.
“In his memory, we’ll be increasing our campaign around HIV Testing to reach more people with the key information, and to challenge stigma to work towards reducing the number of late diagnoses in Scotland.”