HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust has partnered with GaydarRadio to create a series of spoof public transport announcements, encouraging gay and bisexual men in London to ‘mind the gap’ between their HIV tests.
The announcements, which can be found at Terrence Higgins Trust’s YouTube channel, have been launched to promote the charity’s new campaign Mind the Gap and are voiced by GaydarRadio’s breakfast show presenters Neil Sexton and Debbie Ryan.
They contain references to London’s gay scenes in Soho and Vauxhall, with one advising: “You are now approaching Old Compton Street. Alight here for cocktails, Lady Gaga and an altercation with a drag queen in a kebab shop at 3am – and boys, while you’re at it, remember to have an HIV test at least once a year to ensure there’s a good service running on all lines.”
Gay and bisexual men remain the group most at risk of contracting HIV in the UK, with one in seven men on the London gay scene living with the condition. Current guidelines recommend that men test for the virus at least once every twelve months, with more frequent testing recommended for anyone who has had unprotected sex or experiences symptoms of sero-conversion illness.
Modern HIV tests are free and confidential, with many clinics in London now offering rapid finger-prick blood tests that give results in minutes. Terrence Higgins Trust operates a clinic finder with details of clinics across the capital, including its own rapid testing services, at www.tht.org.uk/clinics.
Robin Crowley, Programme Controller at Gaydar Radio, said: “Terrence Higgins Trust’s Mind the Gap campaign reinforces the importance of being tested regularly for HIV in a fun and entertaining way. That’s why GaydarRadio’s breakfast team, Neil Sexton and Debbie Ryan, are perfect as the voices for Mind the Gap, delivering a comedy element to this very important message.”
Cary James, Head of Programmes at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “We want these announcements to make guys laugh, but we also hope they’ll make them think. For gay and bi men, testing has never been easier, yet a quarter of men with HIV don’t know they have it. That’s thousands of men across London who are putting their health at serious risk. We’re hugely grateful to Gaydar Radio for donating their time and talent to support the project, and hope the campaign will encourage more guys to mind the gap between their HIV tests.”
The ‘Mind the Gap’ campaign, funded by the Pan-London HIV Prevention Programme, will provide information via adverts in gay media, posters in gay venues, and through promotional Oyster card wallets to be handed out across the gay scene.