Birchgrove is a support group and platform for views for people with haemophilia, their wives and partners who were infected with HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C through blood products in Great Britain.
Our name came from a pub in Cardiff where the founders met nearly 30 years ago. Over this time Birchgrove has gone through many changes, as has the developing world of medicine, our life expectation and also the loss of over 900 people living with haemophilia and HIV/AIDS in The UK to date.
This is our website and you can find a history of the group, information about the Woodland Grove (a wood dedicated to people with haemophilia and HIV), a back catalogue of our newsletters and a few other things we hope will interest people with haemophilia and HIV/AIDS and our partners, carers, families, friends and people wanting to broaden their knowledge of a piece of medical history through the lives of those who have lived it. There is a contacts page if you want to get in touch.
Below are some words from a group member, who we think encapsulates perfectly the reasons why Birchgrove has been reborn.
"In the late 1980s the fear of HIV/AIDS was very prevalent within the general population; misinformation and unfounded rumours on how you could catch the virus abounded, with huge stigma to those infected along with their families. They were ostracised from communities.
"Although at the time other groups infected with HIV had a voice, Haemophiliacs did not, and the problems Haemophiliacs were facing were totally unique in their fight against HIV/AIDS. Consequently Birchgrove came to existence to advocate, give information and be a general support group for Haemophiliacs and their families infected and affected by HIV from NHS contaminated blood.
"It was then found that the majority of the 1240 Haemophiliacs infected with HIV/AIDS had also contracted Hepatitis C, again via NHS contaminated blood. The Birchgrove group continued in their support of those affected, but the group reluctantly ceased their activities 10 years ago through lack of funding; also sadly the majority of Birchgrove committee members had passed away.
"Now 10 years later the surviving ~284 Haemophiliacs with co-infection are once again finding it extremely difficult and at times frustratingly impossible to get their voices heard and have a platform to be able to inform politicians, parliament and the public of the myriad of problems that this small community still faces on an everyday basis.
"And so it was felt important that our voice needed to be heard again, as it seems to be unheard when compared with other groups. Consequently that is why it was felt imperative to restore the trusted and proud name of Birchgrove along with this newly launched website to support and help our group again."