As simple and plain as this: Derek Ogg saved my life and, with mine, that of many more people who are now able to stand up for who we are.

This not a simple achievement, it requires determination, passion and compassion for humanity, and he had plenty. Between the first time and the last time I met Derek, there are drops of infinite wisdom and talent and wit, and the knowledge of the law, that he was willing to share with me. What a delight!

Whenever I had the opportunity to meet with him, I always felt reassured that I can make “things” better for people living with HIV, because he would make everything so logical, so humane, so brilliantly important and easy to achieve.

SAM (Scottish AIDS Monitor), which he helped to set up, paved the way to HIV activism in Scotland, but most importantly made Scotland a safer place for people living with HIV. I will always be grateful to Derek Ogg for his vision and also for his patience - I incessantly wanted to make sure that SAM was not perceived as a male name. Women are living with HIV too, I used to say, and I know that he was listening with his heart, at a time when women were still a forgotten and disempowered token in the fight against HIV stigmatisation. 

To me the personal is very much political and today more than ever, I take the political very personally. Derek Ogg always helped me to make my personal very political so that we all can make Scotland, a better place for all of us.

His legacy stays with me at a personal and at a collective level. Because of his compassion and his commitment, Edinburgh was no more the AIDS capital of Europe, Edinburgh became the place where Princes Street could stand still to remember and honour the lives of those we lost because of a little tiny virus.

Edinburgh and Scotland can embrace diversity and can acknowledge human rights violations, because of the impact that Derek Ogg has made to our lives and to mine. I am grateful for the many opportunities he has provided to our communities, to be heard and to be counted.

Graciously and with tenacity, Derek Ogg saved my life.

- Dr Nicoletta Policek, Chairperson, HIV Scotland

Picture Credit: Equality Network