HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust is launching a new programme of free and confidential groups for gay and bisexual men with HIV in the capital, beginning this weekend.

Gay men remain the group most disproportionately affected by HIV in the UK. In 2010, men who have sex with men made up 69% of all HIV infections acquired through sex in the UK that year, despite representing between 3% and 4% of the general population.

Even though medical treatment for HIV has improved significantly, people with HIV can sometimes face a range of issues related to their condition, and these groups provide a safe environment in which such issues can be addressed.

The central London groups over the coming weeks include:

Saturday 21st April (10.00am – 3.00pm): Who to Tell
With ongoing high levels of stigma surrounding HIV, it can be difficult for people living with HIV to know how to tell those around them. This one day workshop aims to give gay men the confidence to better take control of who to tell and how to tell them. Those who attend will have the opportunity to share any fears or concerns they may have about telling others their status and discuss any experiences they have faced so far.

Saturday 28th April (6.30pm – 9.30 pm): HIV/HepC Co-infection
This three week course offers support for gay men living with both HIV and Hepatitis C. The course will advise these men on how to tell people about their condition, emotional wellbeing, and information and advice on treatment options and how Hepatitis C can be transmitted.

Tuesday 1st May (6.30p.m – 9.00pm): Positively Growing Older
With improvements in medication keeping people with HIV alive for longer, the largest group of HIV positive people today are those aged 50 or above. This six week programme welcomes men over the age of 45, or those who have been living with the condition for over ten years. Attendees will have a chance to address any emotional or physical changes they may be going through, and share their general experiences of growing older with HIV.

Monday 14th May (6.30pm – 9.00pm): My HIV: Sex and Relationships
This one day workshop gives HIV-positive gay men who have struggled to come to terms with their diagnosis an opportunity to discuss their feelings and receive advice on how to develop meaningful relationships with people in the workplace, friends or sexual partners. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, motivational interviewing and art therapy are some methods used in the workshop to improve self-confidence and promote positive thinking.

Justin Dickson, Groupwork Project Worker at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “Not only do these groups offer practical support, but more importantly, they focus on the emotional well-being of the participants. Group members have a great opportunity to talk to others in the same situation, and build friendships and support networks. We encourage anyone who feels they may benefit from attending a group to get in touch.”

For more information on the workshops, or to sign up, please call (020) 7812 1773, or email groupworklondon@tht.org.uk.