In 1993, Gideon Mendel spent some weeks photographing the Broderip and Charles Bell wards in London's Middlesex Hospital – the only few wards exclusively dedicated to HIV/AIDS. This was the era before antiviral medications had become available, and the disease was still little understood, both medically and in wider society. The patients, most of whom were young, gay men, were having to face the terrifying prospect of an early and painful death.
Considering the high levels of stigma and fear that existed at the time, the decision of these patients to allow themselves, alongside their families, lovers and friends to be photographed was an act of considerable bravery.All of the patients in these photographs died soon after the pictures were taken. They were the unlucky ones, who became sick just before treatment became available.
The Ward poignantly reminds us of a different time, how it felt to live with HIV when it was considered a veritable death sentence, and how the wards at the Middlesex Hospital became unique and special places full of love.
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