A report from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) showed that last year, 3,000 gay and bisexual men received a positive HIV test, the highest since records first began twenty five years ago. This announcement can be seen in two ways; the ongoing campaign for sexually active people to be come forward and take an HIV test is proving a great success. On the other hand, the campaign urging people
to look after themselves and each other and practice safer sex is not getting through.
It is encouraging to hear that a report from the House of Lords’ select committee on the issue of HIV and AIDS in the UK recommends among other things, a new national HIV awareness campaign, more spending on prevention work and specialist HIV training for medical staff. However, with the ongoing cuts from central and local government, it is difficult to see such plans being put into place. Furthermore, many of our HIV and LGBT charities are facing a reduction in servicers or closure altogether do to cuts in their funding. With this in mind, it is up to all of us as a LGBT community to stand together and tackle some of the issues we face, head on.
As you may have read in the press, local charities The Sussex Beacon and the Brighton and Hove LGBT Switchboard are both facing financial crisis and urgently need public donations to continue their work. Dig deep into your pockets, ask your family and friends to do the same and make a contribution to these vital servicers. Alternatively volunteer your time to one of the HIV/LGBT charities, ensuring
care, information and support continues to be available.
At present the teaching of HIV and AIDS awareness in schools although mandatory, is only ‘strongly recommend’, allowing many schools to opt out of providing essential information on safer sex to its pupils. This has certainly lent itself to many LGBT teenagers either putting themselves at risk of contracting HIV, or leaving them woefully unprepared when negotiating safer sex. There is also a total lack in many schools talking about alternative sexualities during the sex and relationship education (SER). These issues are presently being reviewed by government. Please write to your local MP and the coalition government and challenge them to make sure that all pupils receive a clear education of safer sex, HIV and
Let us in turn promise
to take care of ourselves and each other by taking on board the five
pledges suggested by the HIV prevention group Gay Men Fighting AIDS (GMFA).
- I will know my HIV status
- I will not assume know someone else’s HIV status
- I will take personal responsibility for using condoms
- I will value myself and my health
- I will stay informed about HIV and how it is spread
And finally, this World AIDS Day buy a red ribbon, wear it and show your support to all those living with the virus and remember those who have died in the past.