chapter  1
19 Pages

An Anatomy of the HIV/AIDS Voluntary Sector in Britain

There appears to be widespread agreement on the importance of the voluntary sector in responding to the HIV/AIDS crisis, reflected in a variety of official policy statements, both national and international, and in a widespread popular recognition (Aggleton, Weeks and Taylor-Laybourn, 1993). This in turn reflects the role of the sector in defining the character of, and response to the health crisis from the early 1980s. In the earliest days of the epidemic it was an emergent alliance between voluntary groups (overwhelmingly drawn from the commu­ nities most affected) and public health officials that propelled the issue up the policy agenda in the mid-1980s (Berridge and Strong, 1991; Day and Klein, 1989). The voluntary sector pioneered a whole set of now taken for granted activities, from health education and prevention stategies, to practical support and direct services. As the National Audit Office (1991) noted:

Service provision began in response to an emerging need identified by key hospitals and by a number of newly formed voluntary groups. These have continued at the forefront of providing care and support.