History of the HIV & AIDS charity AVERT

AVERT was started 35 years ago. So how did it come to be started and what did it do in it's first few years? What was it like starting an HIV/AIDS charity in the 1980s?

My name is Annabel Kanabus, and having started the charity with my husband Peter, I was the chief executive for the first 25 years.

An early AVERT logo

An early AVERT logo

Shortly after we started AVERT we  funded some medical research. The initial research we funded and the stigma we initially encountered is described in how we came to start AVERT. There was little global funding to provide money for medical research, but that was because AIDS was perceived as "only" affecting gay men.

In 1986 some of the facts about HIV/AIDS were very unclear. It was similar to how in 2020 some of the facts about coronavirus and covid-19 are still unclear. In fact many women were becoming infected by HIV and some of what was being said in the media was incorrect. Of course in those days we had no internet and no social media. So, never having written any leaflet before, I decided in 1986 to write a leaflet about AIDS & Childbirth. This was the start of what developed into AVERT's program of HIV leaflets, booklets and training packs.

By 1989 we had produced our highly popular leaflet for young people. But more needed to be done to provide effective AIDS education in schools as well as in more informal community settings. The production of a training pack as well as various medical booklets is described in AIDS education in schools. Also described is our social research involving HIV infection among prisoners.

Promoting the AVERT internet site in 1996

Promoting the AVERT internet site in 1996

In 1994 the internet came to the UK. This was to have an impact on all of AVERT's work as described in the start of the internet. I also describe how we came to close down our publications program and put everything online. As a result of saving money because of closing the publications program, we decided to start an AVERT AIDS overseas program outside of the UK.

There were AVERT projects in India and Russia and then our major AVERT projects in South Africa, which included helping the AIDS Orphans. I end with details of our AIDS advocacy work, and particularly how we came to provide AZT in South Africa to help prevent mother to child transmission.

I hope that you enjoy reading one or more of these pages about the history of AVERT.

Annabel Kanabus

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This page was last updated in November 2020

Author Annabel Kanabus

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