I strongly urge NAT to engage more with the grassroots. A policy of broader inclusiveness and a response to even emails would also be welcome. The AIDS Support Grant is a great issue to gather momentum over and create a solid force for change. THT & the APPG HIV/AIDS have come back with some suggestions but as yet no response from NAT.
NAT does engage with some other HIV organisations as a policy conduit BUT the grassroots needs direct access and involvement with more open and transparent communication on activities from NAT if it is to be understood as relevant.
I argue we do need them but explaining who they are ought not to be where we are after the 21 years they have been in existence.
You can do much with little. We do it every day with no funding.
NAT doesn’t appear to have a high profile, unlike the THT. Until I read this article I was not sure exactly what they stood for, although I was highly impressed by their outspoken stance last year against the generally appalling standard of HIV prevention campaigns today, and their rallying of MPs to sign a motion committing to better HIV prevention strategies aimed at younger gay men. It would be useful to know exactly where that is going some months later, because young gay men are still becoming infected by HIV in ignorance, as documented in a major article in Tuesday’s Times. Show me that you will also walk the walk, NAT, and help to get harder-hitting HIV campaigns out to these youngsters who desperately need them, and you will have earned my support for one.
A quick look at their website shows updates on their work through the press releases, such as highlighting the scrapping of the compulsory SRE teaching they were pressuring parliament on during the pre-election wash up.
NAT is a policy and campaigning organisation, and a small one at that – I don’t think their remit includes producing targeted awareness campaigns. Rather they work to influence the government and other decision makers to protect the human rights of people living with HIV.
I think they deserve our support.
The SRE and the issues for the LGBT & HIV were “washed out” at the end of the last parliament. It was a campaign widely supported by organisations. THT along with NAT and others incl ourself fully supported what was trying to be achieved here. NAT are not small £1 million a year is more than nothing!. But I agree and my frustration is wholly to do with the fact they need to have a much higher profile and I would be interested on the “outcomes” achieved for the funding.
Also they have given evidence to select committees and I know that one of there people is very involved in leading issues around Criminalisation & HIV.
Hi kiwi, I meant what pressure are they applying on the relevant bodies to ensure the popular call for harder-hitting campaigns this past year doesn’t become forgotten? They should still be petitioning like crazy for the rights of young gay men to have access to potentially life saving information from which to make informed decision as well as fighting for the rights of HIV-positive people period. It seems all these organizations are so busy ensuring the feelings of HIV infected people are protected and safeguarded but give little thought to protecting the health and lives of young men arriving fresh on the scene and who are bombarded with “risk minimization” campaigns that push condom-less sex as an acceptable lifestyle choice. Come on NAT, show you have some clout and do something that is actually worth supporting you in!
Sorry, where has NAT been pushing campaigns about condomless sex? Don’t lump everyone in the same boat, because it is easy to do so. Please produce your evidence on that, Patchy.
Or alternatively, look at NAT’s press release about the request for donors – it state a whole raft of successes over the last year which are more than “actually worth supporting”, along with further proposals for the near future:
In the past year NAT’s achievements include:
Surveying over 1,800 gay men with HIV about their experiences at work and using the results to educate employers about HIV and the rights of people with HIV at work
Securing changes to the Equality Act so that it is unlawful for employers to ask gay men about their HIV status before a job interview offer and to protect gay men from HIV discrimination by association
Working with the police to produce guidance so that investigations for alleged HIV transmission are reduced and people with HIV are treated sensitively and fairly
Securing full legal protection for hate crimes motivated by HIV
Getting the government to include information about same-sex relationships and HIV in new guidance on sex and relationship education
Securing a review of the blood donor ban for gay men
Over the next 12 months NAT will be campaigning to keep local funding for social care services for people with HIV, reviewing the changes to the benefit system for people with HIV and continuing work to reduce last diagnosis of HIV and ensure young gay men get the information and education they need.
And then take a look around the rest of their website, read their annual review, and maybe peruse a few of their other publications while you are at it?
It’s nopt that surprising that NAT isn’t that well known, as they are not a public service provider – they are a policy and campaigning charity working for our rights behind the scenes.
Kiwi, don;t twist my words, or at least bother to read them properly first. Nowhere did I say NAT has been pushing or encouraging condom-less ads. I was saying that they should be more vocal and speak out against such campaigns which rear their head from time to time. It is all very well acknowledging, as they did last year, that today’s campaigns are not working, but they should be going further in holding the likes of THT and GMFA to public account with each inept HIV campaign that comes along. Why aren’t they doing this? The bottom line is they should be vocal and vigorous protectors of gay men’s health, with at least as much energy as they apply to fighting for gay men who willfully or deliberately infect others with HIV to not be criminalized. It is their remit, and unless they do so they deserve to be hung to dry as they will be seen to be ineffective and ineffectual.
NAT does not oppose intentional transmission of HIV (wilful and knowing in your words I guess) but does oppose unintentional (erm “reckless” to be tehcnical) transmission.
Perhaps before stepping up on the soapbox you could read the background first?
NAT postion statment (PDF):
As a gay man I do get a little annoyed that HIV is aligned, today, still to gay men. Yes we are a major group effected, but HIV transmission isn’t gender or sexual orientation specific and I would prefer talking about HIV as it effects individuals rather than specific communities as, lets face it, fundamentally the issues are the same.
There has been much argument on the issue of promoting testing and treatment versus the message of engaging in “Safer Sex”. That is, you will notice, the prevailing thought that HIV is no big deal you merely take a pill and your fine, that it is no different from having say diabetes. Living with HIV I know the truth but the “negativity” of the truth is surpressed, in my view, as it would have a negative impact on the take up of testing and treatment.
The long term prognosis today for those with HIV is better than when I was diagnosed. We are a minority cohort medically, and those with complex HIV issues an invisible minority therein. Last statistics I saw showed 500 deaths from HIV/AIDS per year but we must temper this figure with other terminal issues effecting HIV+ people like cardio-vascular illnesses and the rise of cancer. Due to HIV and/or treatment.
I guess the question is simple. Do we want to encourage people to test and treat ? OR Do we want to discourage by creating a climate of fear?. I would argue we can do both.
Should it be NAT or THT/GMFA that take the lead on sexual health public information initiatives? It used to be government though Public health campaigns. Though I remain critical if NAT from the point of view of a lack of direct grassroots engagement. My feeling is THT/GMFA are better placed to lead on this issue.
But the point, John, is that they won’t, because they refuse point blank to tell the truth of the realities people like you experience living with HIV and adhering to a daily routine injesting pharmaceutical toxins lest they offend or upset your sensibilities. Well, that is the excuse they use, because they would prefer to misleadingly speak for people like you (honestly, would you really object to more graphic campaigns that made gay men seriously weigh the risks of unsafe sex?), thereby keeping gay men, especially the young, in ignorance. That is why their ads for syphilis and gonnorhea are interchangeable with their campaigns for HIV – all STIs to be best avoided, to be sure, but they won’t have the guts to say how and why HIV MUST ALONE BE AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS. In the meantime they are keep to throw money at campaigns urging the same men they have criminally failed to properly inform and educate about the inherent dangers of HIV infection to go get tested because, in effect, they have created a self-fulfilling prophesy, and in the process the likes of THT becomes an ever bigger industry in itself, and its pharma funders continue to laugh all the way to the bank. How long can this madness be allowed to go on? Hopefully not much longer now that the new age of austerity begins to bite. THT, GMFA et al have failed thousands, and every failure has added £17,000 to the annual NHS medicines bill. That is the sort of abuse of public money that the Con/Lib pact has resolved to bring to an end, and it cannot come too soon.
Patchy I argue that you need a good mix of appropriate messages and lets be clear that means hard hitting and direct as well. I am not sensitive about the issues, I live with them. I do believe that knowledge is power and thus would welcome a “real” campaign that covers the issues. I don’t agree with the political points you raise. I would argue HIV/AIDS and related co-morbidities are non-political and its not just gay men that get HIV.
I would be very concerned with the rise in Hepatitis C and add that to your list.
I don’t agree that HIV should be necessarily always singled out. It has a place in a broader message on Sexual Health and its right that these various illnesses are highlighted to educate.
On Health promotion I would temper your point with the fact that the government used to run Health Protection Campaigns (Aids tombstone) most notable. Using the power of the state. Labour ceased doing this, thus leaving a “gap’. Yes many organisation then picked up funding to run campaigns but without the might of the State. That may be part of the problem.
HIV in the UK is largely seen as addressed as it hasn’t been the “plague” predicted to be.