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New HIV infections down globally but diagnoses rise for gay men in the UK

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  1. A very sad news story for Europe and esp the UK. Education and very hard hitting ads must surely for a starting point. I have found a number of young adults very naive to the point of ignorance over the causes of HIV. I hate to think where this will end. Having had HIV for 11 years now I’m still shocked by the amount of men who purposely want to be infected. I’m not entirely sure what they think they can get out of it or indeed what delights they hope to get out of it. Its disturbing that some men think this way. I was given it deliberately and although I have never been angry about it I do get angry that some think its a gate way to a better life somehow. So much more needs to be done and fast.Attitudes need to change.

  2. CommanderThor 24 Nov 2009, 7:20pm

    Harvey, I hope I get it so I could die early, since I haven’t got the balls to take direct action.

  3. Sister Mary Clarence 24 Nov 2009, 7:20pm

    I think we can anticipate a flood of postings from apologists from THT and GMFA telling us what a good job there are doing but not actually telling young people particularly about the consequences of HIV.

    Increasingly people are not being put on meds ‘until they need them’, which is often difficult to judge, resulting in such high numbers of people getting the life saving medication they need only when their bodies have been overwhelmed by life threatening illnesses.

    The sooner we take things back to basics and start being honest about what HIV can do, the sooner we will start to see things improve.

  4. As a mum of a young gay son i am concerned by his relaxed attitude towards safe sex. I remember the AIDS ads from the 80′s and the impact they had. But until there is proper sex education in schools, covering LGBT issues nothing will change. When will he learn to take care of himself?? hopefully not when its too late. Any advice from you guys and gals as to how a middle aged mum gets her son to use a condom! I can’t do it for him!!!!

  5. @Lizzie:

    Buy the condoms for him; a whole stash. I know it sounds silly, but I used to have unprotected sex just because I was too embarrassed to ask for them at the register, in front of all those people.

    I still can’t believe just how irresponsible I was. Thank the gods that the level of HIV+ people in my country was next to nothing back then!

    And it’s not just HIV. Try to educate your son about other STI’s. Horrible pictures of people with genital herpes, for instance, attained online, tend to stay in one’s memory for quite some time. They may even appear like a mirage just before unprotected sex takes place. :D

  6. Recent articles on Pink News have helped pinpoint why HIV rates have risen so alarmingly among gay men in recent years. In ‘Killing Us Softly’ published last August, it was revealed that the HIV charities have been “working to NHS specifications since 2001″ – the same period during which this story reports that infection rates soared by 74 per cent. So it seems that blame can equally be laid at the Government’s door, which effectively set the HIV prevention agenda that the charities followed in order to secure their funding throughout this decade. It is interesting that only last week Gordon Brown, in his World Aids Day address, singled out the urgency for gay men to get tested with not a mention of the need for a return to effective and impacting campaigns – the same line the HIV charities have been following for over a year now (why urge gay men to be tested now, after 8 years of botched HIV prevention work that has seen a 70 per cent-plus boost in those infected?) A follow-up article reported the results of an independently conducted survey of 500 men that found over a quarter of all gay men consider HIV to be no more of a nuisance than any other STI- a figure that rose to a third for under-25s – while a significant number of gay men are actually being influenced by today’s confusing campaigns that preach “risk minimization” into having unsafe sex. The survey also blew wide open a number of myths that the HIV sector has perpetuated over the years to avoid running hard-hitting campaigns that worked perfectly well back in the early 1990s at bringing HIV rates down to their lowest level ever; namely that such campaigns would only increase stigma among positives and deter others from coming forward to be tested. Only 20 out of the 500 men questioned agreed with each of these fallacies. That didn’t stop an unnamed woman from the NAT from commenting on Pink News of a recent graphic campaign in Germany: ““I think the advert is incredibly stigmatising to people living with HIV who already face much stigma and discrimination, and may deter people to come forward for testing,” so it is rather ironic that Pink News should now be quoting Deborah Jack from the NAT that “We need to get smarter about HIV prevention”, which itself comes fast on the heels of yesterday’s revelation that Nat appears to be signalling its intention to toughen up its act and get serious with HIV again, and is tabling a motion to MPs to that effect. I just hope these are not face-saving damage limitation exercises in the light of recent outrage in the gay media and high profile articles in the new issues of Attitude and Time Out magazines, and that the Nat is really committed to abandoning the soft PC approach and getting tough with HIV again. Meanwhile, as ever, the THT and GMFA maintain a deafening silence…

  7. Sister Mary Clarence 25 Nov 2009, 5:19am

    @Lizzie – that was a real heart warming posting from you.

    You have a gay son, who you clearly communicate with. You’re comfortable enough with that fact to post on a website about it. You seem to have an understanding of the risks to him if he does not take HIV and safe sex seriously. You obviously took in the implications of HIV 20 years ago, along with the need for safer sex. You understand the urgent need for better sex education of young people, and the importance of it being relevant to young gay people, and you have sought help from others in order to help your son.

    What more could a gay kid growiing up want or need – whether or not he appreciates you at the moment. I’m sure if he doesn’t at the moment, in time he will look back and realise how lucky he was to have a mum like you.

  8. Sister Mary Clarence:-

    I didn’t go onto meds until 9 years after I was diagnosed. It was mine and my doctors choice and I don’t regret it. I know there is the big debate on when you should start and I felt lucky enough not to til I ready needed to. If I had gone on them 11 years ago I would have been on the mixture of drugs around at the time including AZT. Instead I am on just two rather than many more. This only also happened because of a separate thyroid condition the hospital I used to go to failed to diagnose until it was too late. I’ve been very lucky that the first ones I’ve been on have worked straight away and(touch wood) will continue to do so. I’ve also have the good fortune to have very supportive parents from the day I found out.

    Lizzie:-

    A clearly Very lucky lad to have you are a parent. Its good to see you being so supportive. You can only do as much as you can to provide information. I have been disturbed though how many of the younger adults have no really idea of how HIV is affecting the community. Many think it’s just another curable STD, some thing it just affects the older generation. I am now a bit overweight and had one young fella say that I couldn’t have it coz I was fat! It sounds funny but sadly its not. I think the best think you can do appart from maybe getting condoms is prehaps contacting Terence Higgins Trust and asking for information for him to read on HIV and indeed STDs. You are right though there does need to be a better understanding through education. Also a much better stronger advertising system about it. In the 90′s one poster that many of my friends found effective was one with a bullet with HIV on it with the words will you be next. Seemed to opened debate. Maybe couldn’t use it nowadays but it was effective.

  9. I thought GMFA had given up with the whole HIV mularky.

    Isn’t it about quitting smoking and getting in touch with your back passage classes?

    How many people does that wretched organisation keep on the pay roll these days?

  10. Ok, Harvey, Sister Mary and Lucius you’ve brought a tear to my eye!!! its all been a rather difficult journey. Sister Mary you’re last paragraph is spot on!! He’s a young and fairly typical teenager at present !! what do parents know??!! but in time all will be well and as you say he’ll understand the support and love that we give is totally unconditional.

    We’ve provided the condoms!! Just got to get him to use them!!

    Oh and by the way, i love Pinknews, i was very very niave with regards to gay issues, it had never affected me and i guess, in an awful way, it never matteredto me. Now,suddenly i’m VERY interested and want to get as much info. as i can. Thanks.

  11. Lizzie, don’t let your son be cannon fodder for the negligent HIV charities to sell their support services and flog PEP to instead of providing explicit and graphic HIV education which they are fully funded to do. They have demonstrably been enabling the spread of HIV, not preventing it these last few years. You have every right to be concerned.

  12. Codex:

    People are responsible for their own actions. You can’t go round blaming charities like THT for doing everything in their power to deal with it. At the end of the day THT and the like can give all the info there is but it’s the individual who decides if they should listen and act on advice. If more was done from the government like hard hitting ad campaigns which include HIV maybe it would be a start.

  13. As i mentioned, all this is very new to me. but i have to say that i agree with the view that people have to take responsibility for their own actions. However, unless the younger generation of gay men are made aware of the consequenses of their behaviour things will not improve. I have obtained information from both THT and GMFA, their booklets are explicit(!) but do generally promote safe sex. But the problem is that the message needs to get to a much wider audience. Posters, tv ads are obviously seen by many more, its not just a gay problem is it?

  14. I agree with you Lizzie the message needs a much wider audience. It also need to be more promoted within straight circles. STD’s within have leapt in numbers with all young communities. It is allowed to advertise about STD late on tv but not to use HIV which seems bad considering that their is no cure for HIV. Having said that some STDs are becoming drug resistant too. A much bigger compaign needs to be set up.

    I know THT do do work within clubs, info, condoms as well as someone to speak to. However the problem with this however good is a lot of people can consider it a ‘blight’ on a night out. If they thought actually not protecting themselves could be more of a blight.

    A lot of young people seem to think they can tell whose got it, so one easy campaign is showing that you can’t.

  15. I have a very strong feeling that GMFA and THT are “gravy trains”. For example THT does not just have its London base but it has offices around the country. People I know report that the THT staff they have encountered in some of these offices are ineffectual, young wishy-washy PC sorts. They are not fighters, they are not ANGRY and DEEPLY CONCERNED that there has been such a dramatic increase in the number of HIV diagnoses among gay men in recent years. They are not determined to get the message through that HIV is an extremely serious disease.

    GMFA & THT safe-sex literature, as Lizzie has noted, is “explicit”, and this explicitness colludes with all of the powerful and lucrative sex industries, by getting men horny for sex, into the clubs and saunas, and encouraging them to think that casual and promiscuous sex should be a daily activity.

    Our so-called “HIV Preventers” have failed abysmally. THEY are largely responsible for the dramatic rise in UK diagnoses which UNAIDS has documented.

    SHAME on them.

  16. Great. The nutter brigade is back. You’re bonkers but you scare me. Someone comes on here to ask reasonable questions and all you ever do is use any posting as an attack on GMFA or THT. Anyone who seriously claims that young people are “being effectively groomed for HIV infection and lined-up for a life time on Aids meds” by THT because they recieved funding for a young people’s project around counselling (as one of your little gang did) is bonkers and shouldn’t be giving anyone advice. I’ve read your posts and you seriously think that staff at GMFA and THT are on a mission to get people infected so that they can get cash from the drugs companies…loop the loop…

    Now i’m not apologising for anyone or any organisation, I’m not a great fan of any of the over paid HIV careerists or the luvvie brigade who think that having a cilla black wear a ribbon is going to do jack sh*t for HIV+ people. I’m making a statement on the craziness that I read on here.

  17. Eddy – just do a google search and find the relevant research. Like or not, the body beautiful sells and men relate better to words like co*k than they do todger, penis or john thomas. safer sex books don’t turn people on, I’m certainly not sat at home enjoying myself in front of THT’s latest poster, fronted by an enormous, ripe, juicy… peach… and i hope you aren’t.

    what makes people horny (amongst other things) are the DVDs, mags and a whole host of other products you can find in the back of Boyz. Now are you going to ban them too? I buy in to that crappy sexualised market, i’m not forced to and a leaflet about wearing a johnny doesn’t twist my arm and force me into Chariots

    Now do your google search and do your reading
    http://www.aidsmap.com/en/news/3C69D724-F69F-4DC1-A0D1-535A80A40436.asp

  18. “James” wrote in #16: “you seriously think that staff at GMFA and THT are on a mission to get people infected so that they can get cash from the drugs companies”.

    No, “James”, I do not think what you have suggested I do. (Do remember that no one, including you, can read other people’s minds.) I do not think that staff at GMFA and THT intend for people to become infected with HIV. That is an extremist’s appreciation.

    Staff at GMFA and THT have generated HIV-prevention materials which encourage promiscuity and risky sex in risky situations. Fact.

    Furthermore, I understand that a UK university academic, in a Department of Linguistics, has subjected GMFA and/or THT materials to linguistic scrutiny and proven this to be the case.

    “James”, regarding your second post at #17, please know that you come across as the self-admitted consumer of that “crappy sexualised market” you speak of WHO like a child about to lose its sweeties has started screaming at the thought of being without it.

    And that’s a tragedy.

    You can be gay, you know, and very happy and well-adjusted, with no belief in Jesus or suchlike, without having to be, as you admit, a consumer of that “crappy sexualised market”.

    Think HARD about it.

    Good luck.

  19. of course i’m a self confessed consumer of it. doesn’t mean i can’t be critical of it. I just don’t think a safer sex leafet with a dick on it and talking about fisting will make a person want to bareback. I can also be a happy homosexual who buys into that crappy sexualised market knowing that it is just that. I suspect the difference between us is that i hate the body fascism, the homogenous pressure to conform and the overpriced rip offs that line someones back pocket in the crappy sexualised market(Boyz magazine take note – you moan about bareback porn actors getting infected but you take the advertising from the DVDs being advertised in your mag) and you Eddy dislike the sexualised market and you think safer sex leaflets are part of it and that safer sex leaflets encourage promiscuity and therefore HIV. I don’t.

  20. Harvey, how on earth can young men like Lizzie’s son take responsibility for their health against hiv when they have been encouraged by the hiv charities themselves to take risks to the point where almost half of men under 25 think hiv is no more serious than catching a curable std? Lizzie may not know that these charities refuse to condemn barebacking and encourage the opening of sex clubs where men can meet for unprotected sex. Now hiv rates are sky high they are urging gay men to “get tested and know your status”. Contrary to your view Havey deranged minds clearly dictate hiv policy today.

  21. James, I applaud much of what you acknowledge in your post at #19: “I just don’t think a safer sex leafet with a dick on it and talking about fisting will make a person want to bareback. I can also be a happy homosexual who buys into that crappy sexualised market knowing that it is just that. I suspect the difference between us is that i hate the body fascism, the homogenous pressure to conform and the overpriced rip offs that line someones back pocket in the crappy sexualised market(Boyz magazine take note – you moan about bareback porn actors getting infected but you take the advertising from the DVDs being advertised in your mag)”.

    You acknowledge the sex-saturated content of the gay market. I find it difficult to imagine why you have not perceived the link between such saturation and behaviour.

    Give a young person nothing but biblical stories and he’ll grow up exhibiting behaviour dictated by his headful of Christianity.

    Give a young person continual exposure to sex-saturated materials everywhere he turns on the gay-scene and his behaviour too will become guided and influenced by the images and thoughts he has been fed.

    It’s a well-documented causal link. And one of which all sorts of idiologies are aware.

  22. Thanks for your post Sam, this is enlightening!! if not a little worrying! I must admit that i was not aware of the lax attitude of some of these charities. I also wasn’t aware that clubs like this existed!! oh er.. i have much to learn it appears! :)
    All i can do for my son is remind him to take his sexual health seriously.

  23. Lizzie, I don’t know where you are based and where your son is living, so may I advise you to try and do your best to keep your son away from Central London venues – in and around them he will come in contact with the sex-oriented “gay scene” and he COULD get sucked into it. He may NOT, of course, but on the other hand, he may. I would like to think that he’s based in some smaller town. Even Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff, or Glasgow would be safer environments.

    May I suggest you subtly direct him towards gay groups which are not based bang-smack in the middle of the gay-scene, groups which are not sex-inclined. For example, there’s the Gay Outdoor Club. They have branches all over the country and organise walks in the countryside, allowing the walkers to get to know each other. The sort of gay men who join this kind of group are not GENERALLY addicted to the sleaze-pits. And there are lots of other Gay groups which have general interests.

    I also think it is healthy for a gay man to be part of mixed groups. Yes, they’ll be dominated by heterosexuals, but these days people are generally open-minded. So in your town or area there are probably lots of different interest-clubs he can join. It’s probable that all of these will have at least one or two other gay men or lesbians as members. This is the healthy way to go. He can still go into town now and again for a drink at a gay bar, but if his life isn’t centred on gay bars and clubs or other gay meeting places, then he’s much more likely to avoid high-risk situations. Good luck.

  24. And thanks to you too Eddy! Unfortunately he’s already done the reckless stuff in London!! but is now away at University (i’m hoping with lessons learn’t). The internet has also been a problem. All temptations that are so readily available. But we all have a choice as to how we live our life and its not all bad out there. The trouble is teenagers can be so naive and feel invincable. I also think young gay men straight out of school can feel incredibly lonely, they’ve often had a tough time at school and have struggled with their sexuality, not to mention how they tell family etc. But i guess most of you know all about that. Luckily he has loads of interests including music and drama, he needs gay friends and as you say straight mates too! I just want him to find a goodlooking boyfriend to bring home for Sunday lunch!! I think i’ll have to be patient. Thanks to everyone for their comments here.:)

  25. Lizzie, you’re right about the loneliness that young gay men can feel straight out of school. I have experience of university environments at this time and it does not seem to me that gay students feel a great deal more comfortable than they did twenty years ago. I’m not asking you to tell us but I wonder which university he is at. There is one hell of a range, isn’t there. A few years ago I got to know a young 19 year old student from a north London university. He was from Yorkshire. He was lonely as hell. None of the others on his course were of the same ethnic background. He said there was no way that he felt he could disclose his sexuality, so I got the impression he was going through the course feeling pretty hemmed in and oppressed. But this is a worst-case university scenario. A student in that position is vulnerable and likely to head off for liaisons away from the student-body, not likely to make mates amongst other students. Hopefully your son is amongst a more accepting crowd. You say his interests are music and drama. I wonder if you mean classical music. I ask because in my experience of university music departments there have always been quite strong Christian contingents amongst the students – which can be repressive. Drama students are a completely different kettle of fish. All eager to be very liberated and “out there”, itching for a juicy part, aching to get all their kit off on stage, etc! But at that age the liberated thing can all be more a pose amongst drama students than anything else. But if there’s any environment at university that could be reasonably accepting and welcoming to a young gay or lesbian, it’ll certainly be the drama dept, art dept, or English dept.

  26. Hi Lizzie, I understand your concerns and sympaphise entirely. If I had a young gay son coming out in today’s environment I would be at my wits end. Why not write to your MP and ask him why taxpayers’ money intended to prevent HIV is instead being spent on “risk minimisation” campaigns that encourage unsafe sex? Why HIV charities are deceitfully describing HIV as a manageable condition with which you can live a normal lifespan when it remains a terminal, unpredicatable condition that will curtail your life, leading many young men like your son to think it is no big deal? Why HIV charities are pushing an unproven “quick fix” (PEP) for pre-planned unsafe sex? Why HIV charities defend the rights of HIV men to carry on barebacking above the rights of young men like your son to remain negative? And why these wretched outfits refuse to speak out about the barebacking phenomenon and are actively legitimising unsafe environments where men can meet for mass bareback orgies? Read these recent articles on Pink News for a greater insight.

    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-13675.html/
    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2009/11/02/comment-the-way-forward-for-hiv-prevention/

    The good news is that therere is a momentum building after years of apathy and neglect in these institutions, but it would be great to have concerned mothers like you on board as well to pile the pressure on for a change of approach that puts your son’s right to make fully informed choices about sex that these enticements into a world of unsafe sex and toxic treatments that are bombarding youngsters these days.

    All best wishes, William

  27. Lizzie, “Codex”/”William” has been extremely blunt in what he has said to you in #26, above. There is truth in what he has said, however I can imagine that news of the situation that he has described could scare a mother of a gay son witless!

    Unless your son has slipped into the seedy underworld of gay London or other such capitals in the world where there are sex-clubs, you do not have a great deal to worry about except making sure he doesn’t slip into that world at some point in the future.

    Having referred to London’s gay sex-clubs, we need to remember that London has a good many heterosexual sex-clubs as well! Remember this! Even if your son were straight, you could still spend your time worrying about him.

    The only thing for everyone, gay or straight, to do is to treat every other person as if they HIV. Practice safe sex ALWAYS.

    It’s easy advice to accept, but unfortunately after a good night out, after a good number of drinks (or “party pills”), people lose their inhibitions and their control and they slip up.

  28. Thank you guys for all the info and advice. I think i will write to local MP, perhaps there is an activist in me yet! I feel very strongly that so much could be achieved with the right sex education in schools (but thats another issue) i also think that parents need to be educated. I have found many of my peers (i’m 40 something!)just don’t understand, i guess until it affects you directly perhaps people just don’t consider it at all. Thank you again, i have been very encouraged by your comments.

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