Charles Farthing

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 27 May 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3287
  1. Anne Gulland, London
  1. annecgulland{at}

Early pioneer in AIDS treatment and research

Charles Frank Farthing (b 1953; q University of Otago 1976), died from acute myocardial infarction on 5 April 2014.

Charles Farthing arrived in London in the early 1980s to work as a dermatologist, but it was a voluntary position that launched his career.

While working at a clinic for sexually transmitted disease in St Stephen’s Hospital he noticed a spate of young gay men with unusual skin conditions, such as Kaposi’s sarcoma. Farthing and his colleagues soon realised that these skin conditions had a common theme, and that the underlying cause was AIDS—a disease that had only recently been identified.

Farthing abandoned his dermatology career and set up one of the first AIDS wards in the UK. At the time fear and misinformation surrounding the disease was rife, with AIDS being dubbed the “gay plague” by some sections of the press.

Farthing, described as a “proud gay man” by a colleague, was active in the …

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