Contributor corner: Patrick Strudwick

Patrick StrudwickPatrick Strudwick writes about politics, social issues, health and celebrity for a wide range of titles including The Times, The Independent, The Guardian and the Mail on Sunday. He has won several awards for his interviews and investigative journalism.

Twitter: @PatrickStrud 

Patrick conducted an in-depth interview with virologist Françoise Barré-Sinoussi for Mosaic.

What makes Françoise Barré-Sinoussi an interesting subject for you?

Françoise Barré-Sinoussi holds a unique position in the history of the HIV/Aids pandemic. She was there from the beginning, she identified what was causing countless unexplained deaths, and she has witnessed the entire progression of the virus, both scientifically and socially. Unlike some researchers, Barre-Sinoussi has never been stuck in an ivory tower but instead in among the communities she has tried so desperately to help. She is opinionated, passionate and immensely compassionate. Hers is a story both inspiring, historically important and horribly moving.

What was the most striking thing for you from the interview?

As fascinating as Barre-Sinoussi's account of the discovery of HIV was, it was the personal and the political that struck me the most. Recalling the first man she met who died of Aids and reliving the clinical depression she was struck down by when combination therapy came in were both gut-wrenching to hear. Her rallying call for politicians and religious leaders to stop standing in the way of access to condoms and medication in order to save lives was righteous and vital. Finally, and simply, her controversial advice to the newly diagnosed cut through the debate about when to start treatment with unflinching certainty: take medication as early as possible. I just hope people listen.

Read In conversation with… Françoise Barré-Sinoussi on Mosaic, publishing 27 May 2014.