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CHERUB HIV Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018

the background: the chelsea flower show

The CHERUB HIV garden is a landmark project for, and about, people living with HIV. It will be launched at the Chelsea Flower Show 2018 and then moved to a permanent site in Lambeth, South London.

Facilitated by professional garden designers, HIV clinicians, researchers and community link workers, over 12 months young people living with HIV have developed a garden that aims to bring together three themes around HIV: breaking stigma and secrecy; engagement with HIV testing and treatment; and exploring new therapies through research. The Garden aims to act as a focus to develop conversations, for stigma to be openly addressed, and for increased understanding about HIV for those with and without the infection. It also aims to empower individuals to develop skills and confidence, and to engage with the public to increase awareness of HIV, associated research and to help combat deeply ingrained issues around stigmatisation.

The CHERUB Collaboration (Collaborative HIV Eradication of Reservoirs: UK BRC) is a NIHR-funded platform funded to explore strategies for achieving HIV eradication in the UK. CHERUB comprises internationally recognised researchers from Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College, UCL and King’s College, and the associated NHS Trusts. The role of Oxford University within CHERUB is to lead the scientific strategy. 

The Garden

Visit the HIV CHERUB Garden

Image courtesy of Naomi Ferrett-Cohen

The theme centres on a young person living with HIV and the journey they face, exploring stigma and marginalisation.

The white pod at the top of the garden represents the NHS clinics the young people attend, a cocoon of safety from the outside world.

The journey from the pod through the garden shows the journey towards a life of more freedom, and the obstacles encountered along the way. The path through the planting is interrupted by three dark obstructing walls. Each wall is difficult to pass and is inscribed with words that young people growing up with HIV have chosen to describe how they feel about the stigma, secrecy and the daily struggles they face.

The end of the journey is an open seating area, symbolising a society where these young people are accepted without prejudice and feel happy and confident to open up about their HIV, without fear of judgement.

The Research behind the Garden

Professor John Frater (Nuffield Department of Medicine) is co-PI and Scientific Lead for the CHERUB Co-operative. His research focuses on quantification of viral reservoirs, sequence analysis by standard and next generation models, immunology (predominantly looking at the role of CTL in remission strategies) and more fundamental research into new approaches to eradication such as nanotechnology. 

Listen to Professor Frater discuss his research

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