Bridgewater Hall Christmas Concert … HIV Vaccine … Centre for Ageing Better … Diversity Role Models … Human Rights Day


Bridgewater Hall mid-day concert

A group of us went to the lunch time concert which featured a selection of Christmas songs from Europe (including Ukraine) and Central and South America.

The Manchester Chamber Choir was formed in 2002 and has become one of the UK’s most versatile and accomplished vocal ensembles. The programme was very varied and really enjoyable.

An early-stage HIV vaccine is showing positive results. If it works, it would be first successful HIV vaccine after almost 40 years of research

An HIV vaccine candidate is showing positive early results, prompting a critical component of the human immune response in 97% of vaccine recipients.

It was a small phase 1 trial testing a vaccine that was made out of an engineered version of a protein that exists on the HIV virus. This particle was designed to get the body ready to generate broadly neutralising antibodies, which are thought to be critical to create immunity against HIV. Broadly neutralising antibodies would recognise a large swath of HIV subtypes, which is necessary to provide immunity because the HIV virus mutates frequently. 

48 participants either received the vaccine candidate or a placebo, and 35 out of 36 of those dosed with the vaccine candidate showed activation of broadly neutralising antibody precursor B cells that could produce the first step on the way to immunity. The crux of this technique is essentially to train the immune system to recognise a wide array of naturally occurring HIV subtypes, according to William Schief, one of the authors of the study. Schief is a professor in the department of immunology and microbiology at Scripps Research.

“There’s only a few patches on the surface of the HIV spike that remain the same or relatively the same across different isolates. And we’re trying to elicit very specific antibodies that have very specific properties that allow them to bind to those exact patches,” Schief said.

In the phase 1 study, no one reported serious side effects, and other side effects like pain at the injection site or headaches were mild to moderate, and they resolved in one to two days. 

These results, published in the academic journal Science on 1 December 2022, which was World AIDS Day, were first announced in 2021 at the virtual conference hosted by the International AIDS Society HIV Research for Prevention. The trial was co-run by the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and Scripps Research. 

Researchers have been trying to create an HIV vaccine for nearly 40 years.

HIV is notoriously difficult to vaccinate against. Part of this is because of HIV’s tendency to mutate. By evolving and changing quickly, it can avoid the immune system by making itself harder to recognise.

Additionally, virtually no one, short of a few high-profile cases, has been cured of an HIV infection. That means we don’t know what sorts of immune cells in the body can actually protect against infection. 

Theoretically, this vaccine will be the first in a series of multiple shots, each using a different HIV particle to train the immune system. As the shots progress, the molecules get closer and closer to that of the actual HIV viruses, until antibodies produced can bind to many different kinds of HIV.

“That’s sort of a whole new way of thinking about how to make a vaccine,” Schief said.

Moderna is developing its HIV vaccine based on similar research.

It will take time before phase 2 trials can begin, according to Schief, and there’s no guarantee that the vaccine will ultimately work.

But if it does, this technique could be used to make other vaccines, he said, like a universal corona virus or flu vaccine.

“We’re optimistic that there’s some chances that this approach may be helpful for more than just HIV,” said Schief, “even though if it only helps HIV that would be enormous.”

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

Centre for Ageing Better

Would you be interested in being photographed as part of the Centre for Ageing Better’s age-positive image library?

They are looking for LGBT+ people (and couples) over 50, based around Manchester who are happy to be photographed. The library is a publicly available resource, so anyone (communications professionals, journalists, advertisers etc) can download the photos.

They would like the shoots to take place either on week commencing 12th or 19th December, depending on people’s availability.

They would also give participants a voucher as a thank you for their time (if it’s less than an hour, £10, if it’s 1-3 hours, £35).

If you are interested in taking part, please drop an email to Dora Buckle at

Diversity Role Models

Diversity Role Models, an education inclusion charity, seek to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying. Their vision is an education system where everyone can be themselves without fear of being judged and can thrive.

Historically, they are an LGBTQ+ charity but with funding from the Department for Education for their anti-bullying staff training project ‘Embracing Difference, Ending Bullying’ they have been able to recruit an even more diverse pool of volunteers. 

The volunteer role models are often from marginalised or underrepresented groups, who come to schools (both in person and digitally) to share their lived experience stories with students and staff to develop empathy and trigger attitudinal change. They have many opportunities across Manchester (and the country using zoom/teams) for role models to join them in sessions to share their stories.

Here is a link to their website

If you want to sign up, then they would train and DBS check everyone at no cost to you. Please contact us here and more information will be sent.

Don’t Tell Us Who We Are

Human Rights Day is celebrated annually around the world on 10 December every year. The date was chosen to honour the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation, on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Show your support for people enduring human rights abuses.

Yren Rotela and Mariana Sepúlveda want to live their lives freely and do things they love, like playing volleyball, dancing and going to the theatre. However, as trans women, Yren and Mariana are busy defending themselves against discrimination. They’ve been bullied, physically attacked and prevented from speaking out about the issues they face in their daily lives.

Trans people in Paraguay cannot legally change their names or obtain identity documents that match their gender identity, among other discriminatory practices.

This means trans students cannot get school certificates in their chosen names, which makes finding a job difficult. This inequality has motivated Yren and Mariana to become activists, to demand change. But protesting isn’t easy for trans people in Paraguay. Paraguay is a very conservative country that treats trans people and the wider LGBT+ community unfairly. It tries to make them invisible. Because of this, protests by trans groups are often banned, and in some cases demonstrations have been attacked.

Yren and Mariana have been fighting for years to change their legal names. If they could get documentation that matches who they are, it would mean the state had started to recognise their existence as trans women. As Yren says: “I came into the world to show who I am, not to be told who I am.”

Tell Paraguay to legally recognise the identity of trans people so they can exercise their rights.

  • Send an appeal letter (in English or Spanish) to the Paraguayan Authorities

Write to: President of the Supreme Court of Justice

Palacio de Justicia del Paraguay

Mariano Roque Alonso y Testanova

9° Piso, Torre Norte

C.P. N°001001

Asunción, Paraguay

    Salutation: Dear Mr President

In your letter ask him to legally recognise the identities of transgender people so that they can exercise their right to freedom of expression, association and protest under their self-perceived identities.

or email to:

  • Send a message of support and solidarity

Address: Yren Rotela and Mariana Sepúlveda

c/o Amnesty International Paraguay,

Hassler 5229 entre Cruz del Defensor y Cruz del Chaco,

Asunción, Paraguay

One thought on “Bridgewater Hall Christmas Concert … HIV Vaccine … Centre for Ageing Better … Diversity Role Models … Human Rights Day

  1. Thanks Tony. Great there is a lot in this message that we can think about doing that actually helps make change.


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