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February 2015: Time to Think

It can be very hard to find the time in the hurly burly of our daily lives to reflect on the work we do, think about how things are going and consider what we need to be doing next to continue to meet the needs of our service users – but this month there have been a couple of opportunities for me to do just that, in the company of sector colleagues at the National Aids Trust’s (NAT) annual Policy Network Forum, and in preparation for our annual Food Chain strategy day that takes place this Saturday.

The NAT event takes a look at what the major issues facing the HIV sector across the country are. At the moment there is a strong focus on the need for more investment in prevention work in all communities to help reduce the number of new HIV infections each year. There is also a lot of interest in the advent of treatment as prevention which, recent clinical studies have shown, could prevent infections in as much as 86% of people taking the medication. This could have a really significant impact on our response to HIV in the UK (and in other parts of the world) and could potentially lead to the end of the epidemic over time. There is much to be decided upon before that happens, but it is a very significant moment in the medical response to HIV. And in terms of the social impact of HIV, NAT are also very concerned with the enduring stigma and discrimination that is faced every day by people living with HIV, and we are all working hard in the sector to eradicate that.

At our Food Chain strategy day we will take a look at what we have achieved over the past year. It has been a year of significant changes to our services, and it will be good to take stock and reflect on what has gone well, what could be improved upon and any new actions we need to be taking. We’ll be checking that our strategic objectives as set out in our “Working Together” strategy document, linked here, remain good and true to our charitable purpose, and we’ll take a reflective look at how well we are doing in achieving them.

Last weekend I was at a ‘bring a dish’ dinner party with friends, and I had to bring the dessert. I knew that by the time we got to the pudding we would have done much feasting (and I wasn’t wrong about that!) so I prepared a poached pear, served with meringue and crème fraiche so that it could be as light or indulgent as each person chose. At least it had one of our five a day in it. Another really tasty dish was a little lime and basil sorbet that was served between the main course and the dessert. Very fancy indeed! This was so delicious, and looked so attractive that here’s a photograph of it (right), along with my pears.

My poaching recipe included fresh ginger, vanilla, cloves, star anise, a dash of sherry and of course, sugar.

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