Editor’s comment: On Phil Glanville’s public HIV test, and the continuing Britannia Leisure Centre row

Phil Glanville has a HIV test. Picture: HACKNEY COUNCIL

Phil Glanville has a HIV test. Picture: HACKNEY COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

I was impressed to see Phil Glanville taking a public HIV test as a means of confronting the stigma around the illness.

It’s a nerve-wracking thing to do even in private, even if you’re certain you’ll come up negative. No one can ever be totally sure, however careful you are, however much you trust a partner. Everyone, whatever their gender or sexuality, regardless of their circumstances, should get tested regularly. But what if the result is positive?

The truth – which I only learnt from the press release about Phil’s finger prick test – is that diagnosed HIV sufferers who are taking modern meds and have an undetectable viral load can’t pass the infection on to other people. That means even a positive test result can help beat HIV: it lets you start lifesaving treatment and lower your risk to others in the process. HIV doesn’t mean you can’t safely have sex, but that’s only true if you get diagnosed and treated. I’m proud to see the mayor spreading that message.

• I feel less charitable about the town hall’s apparent lack of transparency over the Britannia.

I understand that getting a new school and leisure centre mean this isn’t a development wholly without merit. What I don’t understand is the council’s continued refusal to release documents documenting the poor condition of the Britannia, or – crucially – the estimated bill for its repairs.

I’m not saying the council is being dishonest. But no good answer has ever been given to the campaigners’ request for proof, and that has understandably fuelled distrust. It’s the reason you’ll now see posters opposing the scheme across Hackney.

Releasing those documents would go a long way to helping allay the community’s concerns. The Gazette today calls on the council to publish them.