Martin Fisher

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 09 June 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h3006
  1. Duncan Churchill, Brighton

Professor of HIV medicine who revolutionised the care and treatment of people with HIV in the UK

In 1995, at the age of 30, Martin Fisher was appointed a consultant in HIV and genitourinary medicine in Brighton. He had qualified just seven years earlier, and then trained in genitourinary and HIV medicine, initially under Brian Gazzard at the Westminster Hospital and later at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington.

Martin could not have arrived in Brighton at a more propitious time. The world of HIV medicine was tilting on its axis. The results of the DELTA and ACTG 175 studies had just been released, showing for the first time that the combination of two antiretroviral drugs could prolong life significantly in HIV positive people.1 Just months later, at the 1996 World AIDS Conference in Vancouver, numerous studies showed that combinations of three drugs were even more potent, and HIV changed from being universally fatal into a treatable condition.

Services for HIV positive people in Brighton were underdeveloped before 1995. There was limited antiretroviral therapy and no specialist HIV physician; patients ill enough to need inpatient HIV care were looked after by enthusiastic respiratory physicians. Local gay activists were (understandably) fiercely critical of the lack of adequate sexual health services—publication of the Zorro report2 about services in Brighton put pressure on the local health authority to change things for the better, and this led, among other things, to Martin’s appointment.

On arriving in Brighton, Martin rapidly set about establishing access to new drugs and viral load testing for his cohort of then around 400 patients. He made the first of many canny appointments by employing Nicky Perry as his research nurse, and rapidly established Brighton as a site that could recruit patients to clinical studies of antiretroviral medication. Other clinical …

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