On Thursday 16th October, Croydon High School welcomed a very special guest to give a talk to the Sixth Form.

Emma Cole was diagnosed as HIV positive 23 years ago, with a life expectancy of less than 10 years which she has obviously outlived. Since then, she has made it her mission to raise awareness of the illness and how it could affect anyone.

She began her talk by telling us that the next hour of our day would not be depressing, and instead she would talk to us with a “positive voice”. It’s definitely safe to say that she lived up to this promise and surprisingly made us all laugh a fair few times.

Emma contracted HIV at the age of 22; she’d just graduated university, moved in with her boyfriend and was looking for work in the City, but then through one mistake, her whole life changed.

Although Emma admits she did initially think of it as the end of everything, with the help of her friends, her love of football and an unforgettable kiss from her hero, Bruce Springsteen, she hasn’t let her illness get the best of her and still lives a relatively normal life.

What was really touching about her talk was the stigma and unnecessary shame still placed on HIV positive patients today. She demonstrated this by telling us some of the many ignorant comments she has received, as well as through the fact that her own mother no longer talks to her because of how open she is about her illness.

Emma is an extremely inspirational woman who talked to us in an honest and engaging manner about the risks that we could all potentially face. It was certainly an eye-opening occasion and one that we will all remember.


Yasmeen Ameer, Croydon High School