Jacob Alexander, former student, friend and inspirational HIV campaigner, is in our thoughts today as fellow students studying BA (Hons) Creative Direction for Fashion at London College of Fashion, attend their graduation ceremony. Jacob should have been amongst them and his loss is still felt keenly by the UAL community.
Fellow students and staff had the privilege of working with Jacob in 2016 when aged 22 he launched The Positive Project, an awareness-raising app to stop the stigma around HIV. Jacob spoke selflessly about his own diagnosis and the project in a powerful TEDxUAL talk.
I was diagnosed with HIV on my 22nd birthday. My mum was sat next to me when I received the call. I thought of all the people who don’t have support. How can we make the lives of those living with the virus better?
Our thoughts today and always are with Jacob’s family, friends, fellow activists and all those whose lives were made better by his work.
In support of Jacob’s tireless efforts to combat the stigma surrounding HIV, his family set up this JustGiving page and it is still possible to donate and help further research into HIV via the St Stephen’s Centre.
Here, we share tributes to Jacob from some of those who knew him.
Jacob will be fondly remembered by the course team on BA (Hons) Creative Direction for Fashion. He was tenacious and always positive despite the obstacles he faced in his life. Jacob worked hard and always made time to thank those he collaborated with. He was a generous student who will be missed, but who has touched those that he worked with during his time at LCF.
Kelly Dearsley, Programme Director Fashion Communication, School of Media and Communication, London College of Fashion
I met Jacob in halls at UAL and we became great friends. The news has shaken through an entire community but it’s a real chance to bring everyone together in his honour and make sure that this doesn’t happen again.
Tommy Hibbitts, London College of Communication graduate
Jacob was, in his own words, a universe of exploding stars. He was an incredible activist, designer and person who touched all of our lives tremendously. He once spent an evening photoshopping one of my acrylic nails back on in a photo without even mentioning it because he didn’t want it to look tacky, he was a perfectionist, so full of love to give, he just didn’t know how much we were ready to give it all right back to him.
I mean who else but Jacob could be diagnosed with HIV and use it as inspiration for his collection and ultimately The Positive Project. A project he built to end HIV stigma and lessen the load of those who would be diagnosed the same as him. As I get older I realise how much we all wait for the next milestone or the next happening, we wait to make the moment perfect, live your lives now, tomorrow may never come.”
Kaycia Lauren Ainsworth, London College of Fashion graduate
I knew Jacob for a few years and we enjoyed a few nights out with each other. He was always a very kind and generous soul who cared about those around him and those he felt were disadvantaged. He worked hard to combat the stigma surrounding HIV and it’s his legacy that we intend to keep alive for all the good that he had done.
John Brock, friend
Jacob was a beautiful and vivacious soul loved by all. He defended his friends fiercely and supported us all despite all of his hardships. We have lost a deeply talented and special individual whose selflessness will inspire me forever.
Marianna Petrides, Central Saint Martins student
Jacob was not only an inspiration to the HIV+ community, but a great friend and someone who I looked up to in many ways. His fabulous style, sense of humor and achievements in spreading awareness about HIV to name just a few. I only wish we could have done more.
Harry Whitfield, friend
A beautiful soul, a phenomenal artist, activist, dancer, dreamer and advocate for HIV / AIDS justice - a courageous human in life and death whose legacy is so huge and very much including a deep commitment to ending stigma, building loving community and fighting for HIV rights and healthcare for all.
For World AIDS Day in 2018, Jacob was honoured at an afternoon workshop for a new generation of HIV+ art activists and then in the evening with a ‘HIV Blind Date’ event.
Let’s do Jacob justice! Rest in Power (RIP) honey – until there is healthcare, love, life and liberty for all. Thank you for all you brought.
Dan Glass, activist with ACT UP LONDON
UAL would like to remind you that support is available to staff and students affected by this story or who are concerned about their wellbeing. Our Mental Health Advice Service provides support and guidance for enrolled students who are finding it difficult to cope with university life or who have existing conditions. Urgent appointments are available during office hours if you need to talk to someone quickly or in a crisis.