Well done Nick, well done THT!
Congratulations to Nick and the THT.
The Terrence Higgins Trust supports the ban on gay men giving blood donations. They do not however want this ban extended to people who have ever had sex with someone from sub-Saharan African (despite this group of people being equally at risk from HIV infection).
While it is good that Nick Partridge is being honoured it should not be forgotten that the THT is colluding with the homophobic blood ban on gay men.
Let’s set the record straight here. This MBE, like countless others under New Labour, is a nod to cronyism, and the facts speak for themselves. It is a reward for abject failure and skulduggery under Partridge’s watch. For example, in the early Nineties, at a time when THT was making the front pages of the Sunday Express for “financial irregularities”, the newly-appointed Partridge was already involving THT in a covert “arrangement” with Glaxo whereby the charity was actively pushing the banned, highly toxix cancer treatment AZT onto AIDS patients, effectively accelerating death for many. A group of outraged gay activists former GAG – Gays Against Genocide – which subsequently disbanded when THT used its considerable muscle and funds to take them to court in order to silence (i.e. gag) them. Needless to say, the strain of the case inevitably induced the extreme stress that killed one of GAG’s founders.
Let’s also not forget the bureaucratic aggression THT has demonstrated in its bid to dominate the AIDS services market by gobbling up smaller regional AIDS charities/services providers across the UK, then stripping their core services to the core in order to “streamline” costs, but leaving skeleton services that have deprived thousands. And while upgrading to expensive new offices in Grays Inn Road four years ago THT closed its legal services department that gave vital information and advice to many with HIV citing lack of funding, notwithstanding the fact that this advice was provided voluntarily by several gay solicitors.
The list of incompetence and malpractice is seemingly endless, but most criminally of all, of course, has been THT’s systemic campaign to destigmatize HIV and its persistent refusal to take a hard line against unsafe sex – as witnessed by THT’s ineffective, impact-less HIV campaigns – which has demonstrably contributed enormously to the rise of the endemic culture of barebacking. THT should be at the forefront in speaking out against bareback videos and the backroom culture where condoms have long been shunned, indeed its remit demands it. Instead their voice in the recent DVD barebacking debate has been deafening, while its reps unceasingly defend the need for sex establishments where unsafe sex is the norm while simultaneously launching sleazy web sites that describe in graphic detail the range of extreme sexual behaviours practiced by a minority of sadistically-inclined gay men who typically inhabit such venues and which it touts in mainstream scene mags like QX, while rubber-stamping such venues with its Play Zone scheme on the vain excuse that by adhering to certain “codes of good conduct” reckless patrons will be encouraged to change their pathogen-transmitting behaviours.
The marked deterioration in the sexual health of gay men during the 12 years of New Labour rule has been rewarded by Partridge’s MBE, but it is a reward for failure and recognition of betrayal against the community’s greater good. Let us be in no doubt about what Partridge’s MBE represents, and that the deterioration of sexual health among gay men is not limited solely to the gay community but is being mirrored in the mainstream too, where STIs are becoming epidemic among both men and women. No doubt those individuals complicit in this decline will be rewarded in some way too, like those in key positions within the NHS that have decimated the health standards of this once proud organization. By its own admission, THT has been following government dikats and guidelines for years, and by its very nature New Labour destroys all institutions it has influence over eventually. THT should never have surrendered its independence, but under Partridge it has stood for greed and dominance at all costs, but the ultimate cost has been gay lives lost and the quality of thousands of others considerably compromised.
Points well made, ‘P’. I was not aware of the 1990s AZT scandal. If true then Partridge is guilty of what is tantamount to corporate negligence, especially if he was aware at the time of AZT’s highly life-endangering properties while at the same time receiving funds from AZT’s manufacturer. Wasn’t this drug banned from being used on chemotherapy patients because of its lethal toxic levels?
Regardeless of the points ‘P’ outlines, as someone who grew up in the 1960s/70s Partridge has long been out of touch and out of time with the ground level needs of gay men in the 21st century, but of course he won’t budge or make room for a younger, more in tune, compassionate successor because he has his vast pension pot that upwards of 20 years tied to a public service organization will provide. I guess the rather smug, self-satisfied look on the picture that accompanies this piece says it all, really.
While you’ve made many good points about the problems with THT, particularly the trap of becoming focused on the organsation and it’s continuation than meeting the set goals, it is a pity that in your 3rd paragraph you appear to slip into attacking Consensual Kinks and placing some forms of sex and intimate pleasures as more ‘moral’ than others (“…sleazy web sites that describe in graphic detail the range of extreme sexual behaviours practiced by a minority of sadistically-inclined gay men…”).
It is a pity your otherwise good critique has been marred by apparent prejudice against kInks and moralising, where a questioning of education efforts around the different risk probabilities of different barrier-less fluid-contacting activities would have been more appropriate.
(BTW At least in my area I have found numerous on-the-ground THT staff to be far more in tune with reality, with much better attitudes, and also in agrrement with the various critisism of the organisation.)