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Photo exhibition: moving images of London’s first specialist AIDS ward on display

Photographs show touching scenes of four young gay men in dedicated Middlesex Hospital ward in 1993 – an era of stigma and fear before antiretroviral medications were available

Photographs show touching scenes of four young gay men in a specialist Middlesex Hospital ward in 1993 – an era of stigma and fear before antiretroviral medications were available

Images of nurses and patients on London’s first specialist AIDS ward have gone on public display.


Images such this one feature in an exhibition and also a
book called The Ward. Picture: Gideon Mendel

In 1993 photographer Gideon Mendel visited the former Middlesex Hospital’s Broderip ward, which was opened by Diana, Princess of Wales in 1987, as part of a project called Positive Lives.

In an era of stigma and fear and before antiretroviral medications were available, Mr Mendel captured moving scenes of four young gay men, John, Steven, Ian and Andre, all of whom died shortly after the project was completed.

He also took pictures of the neighbouring Charles Bell ward.

Goodbye kiss

In one image, a nurse kisses John goodbye as he prepares to leave the ward, while another shows a nurse called Sarah visiting Steven and his pet parrot at their home.

Mr Mendel said: ‘Treatment was not a passive process, but rather an active engagement on the part of the patients.

‘The staff too became far more attached to their patients than was commonplace in hospitals at the time.’

The photos have been turned into a new book The Ward, and a selection put on display at the Fitzrovia Chapel in London. The chapel used to be attached to the Middlesex Hospital until it was demolished in 2005.

The exhibition at London’s Fitzrovia Chapel is open to visit free on Wednesdays and Sundays until 3 December from 11am-6pm.

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