Shirley Carn in her garden: photo courtesy Mail News Group
Shirley Carn lost her son, Murray, to AIDS almost 22 years ago.
It was an impossibly difficult thing for any mother to go through, but Shirley found solace in two things – supporting HIV research at Burnet Institute, and her garden.
Murray was starting a promising career as a barrister, and had established a life with his partner, Craig, when he became ill.
He had been diagnosed with HIV quite early in his adult life, but kept it a secret from the family.
“It was devastating when we found out that Murray had HIV,” Shirley said. “We were told he had a form of cancer. I was so worried, but I didn’t know it was HIV.”
During the years of Murray’s illness, Shirley’s garden became a sanctuary.
“I’d been growing Australian plants for 40 years,” Shirley said. “I converted a sloping two-and-a-half hectare block in Silvan into a native plant paradise. It was so beautiful there.”
Murray and Craig loved it, too. They were there nearly every weekend of the last five years of Murray’s life.
Murray died in the late 90s, aged 34.
Afterwards, Shirley threw herself into activism and fundraising for HIV and AIDS medical research. She joined an AIDS support group, and PFLAG, a support group for parents and friends of lesbian and gay people.
Shirley also began opening her garden to the public, with an entry fee donation going to Burnet Institute to support HIV research.
Most recently Shirley has thrown her support behind the implementation research being done by Professor Mark Stoové in preparation for the introduction of HIV self-testing devices into Australia.
“I’ve seen such incredible advancements in the treatment of HIV in my lifetime, and the HIV self-testing device is a remarkable next step in fighting HIV,” Shirley said.
“Murray is gone, but there are so many more people who can benefit from the new drug treatments.
“It is to these people that my mind turns now – these young people and their families.”
Please join Shirley in supporting Professor Mark Stoové’s implementation research.