“…he was a cutie; sweet, furry, a little older than me, more worldly but naive in gay issues, and keen to explore a new era in his life, all things I found very attractive in him.”

Jim, Steve’s first boyfriend.

Steve was married to a woman for 10 years before coming out as a gay man in the 1980s when he returned from Canada to live in Glasgow. 

Steve was a social worker who had always cared about the wellbeing of the people he worked with. He was an ordinary man who became an activist after becoming HIV positive. He was part of a group of men that came together with health services in Glasgow and realised more needed to be done to provide the best possible sexual health care to men who have sex with men. 

At the time Steve was diagnosed with HIV, many more men than today died from an HIV-related illness. Today, if HIV is diagnosed early, the virus can be suppressed by medication making HIV a long term manageable health condition. Steve’s generation weren’t able to benefit from the advances in HIV treatment and care which have evolved over the last 20 years.

Steve’s legacy is the Steve Retson Project. A service dedicated to ensuring that all men have a place where they can access HIV and sexual health testing, feel comfortable discussing their sexual health and can access the help they need. 

“He was intelligent and charismatic and I can see how he became a leader in the HIV wars.”

Jim, June 2015.