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London: THT launches new groups for gay and bisexual men living with HIV

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  1. “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.”

    Never truer words spoken, so why do some on here refute that HIV is a major problem affecting gay men in the UK today, and claim that it is the heterosexual population who are most affected and at risk?

    I have not been the biggest proponent for most THT initiatives announced on PN, but these groups will provide ideal opportunities for many HIV infected gay men to break the isolation so many feel living with the virus and to strike up friendships with others as well as sharing experiences and building support networks.

    I can’t believe I am saying this but, deep breath, well done THT!!

    1. Shock horror, SamuelB supports THT!

      1. Where have I once said I support THT?

        I have merely said that there is merit in their latest initiative that brings HIV-infected gay men together, it being a service catering to those already infected with HIV.

        The charge against THT – that of neglecting their duty, for which they are funded, to safeguard the health of negative gay men – remains.

        Most of THT’s HIV awareness campaigns and programmes over the past quarter century have been demonstrably proven to facilitate, not prevent, the onward spread of HIV in our community.

        This story is proof, if any were needed, that THT should continue to provide services for positive men but relinquish its grip on the HIV prevention budget.

        The two tasks, as I have detailed previously, are mutually incompatible, because if HIV prevention is to be properly targeted and effective it cannot possibly be managed by the PC dears who are so terrified of using any tactics that may be remotely considered to be stigmatising to those with the virus.

        1. “PC dears who are so terrified of using any tactics that may be remotely considered to be stigmatising to those with the virus.”

          If you replace “PC dears” with ‘people with a sense of empathy and a moral conscience’, then you’ll be nearer the mark.

          Why should people with HIV be stigmatised? Especially since it doesn’t help in any way with the prevention of HIV.

          Maybe the THT should leave the prevention work to someone else. Who would you suggest?

          1. Who said anything about stigmatising people?

            It is the VIRUS that should always be portrayed as undesirable, and if that means stigmatising HIV then so be it.

            What has in fact happened, thanks to our oh so empathetic, morally conscionable HIV lobby, is that in their efforts to destigmatise HIV they have gone totally the other way and sought to normalise it, hence today’s record infection rate.

            Stigmatise the virus, not the carrier!

            When most HIV people themselves are calling for a harder-hitting approach to HIV prevention, and with surveys consistently showing most gay men in general demanding them, you realise that tough love is a more compassionate approach than looking the other way and allowing your community to become mass infected with a chronic disease through ignorance and indifference, and being dependent on toxic meds for the rest of their lives.

            Maybe that’s what a friend of mine meant when he told me Berlin’s sexually carefree gay scene resembles a mass suicide pact.

          2. It has to be said Samuel that you have in the past said that stigma is a price worth paying and you do not recognise the negative effect stigma has on prevention. That said you are entitled to hold these views – I personally do not think they are helpful as we have discussed many times.

            If we want prevention to change then we need to start right back at the basics – with the commissioning of prevention services. The Dept of Health and currently local PCT’s are responsible for the commissioning of HIV prevention services -they award contracts to charities like THT, & they SHOULD be monitoring outcomes. As I have previously highlighted certainly in London HIV commissioning is a shambles & is extremely beaurocratic – this has resulted in millions of £ being wasted.

            Successive Govenments have not funded prevention sufficiently & as a result many smaller local charities have either merged or just disappeared. THT spent approx £5million of statutary funding on prevention last year…….

          3. “and if that means stigmatising HIV then so be it.”

            Another Sam B moronic statement.

            Thankfully a powerless freak without any edcuation, so his opinion is nothing more then a passing curiosity for amusement.

          4. …this figure is unrealistic to provide effective National & Local prevention campaigns. I do not agree with the opinion that prevention & support cannot be provided by the same organisation, indeed I believe that more HIV positive individuals should be involved in prevention. I am only too aware of the complexities of prevention, but I have to say that many of the newly diagnosed individuals just do not consider themselves to be at risk of HIV transmission, either because it was a one off, or they live in an area of low HIV prevelance, they thought they were in 1 on 1 relationships – the list goes on.

            Gay men know the score about HIV & condom use, we need to better understand why condoms are not always used & develop meaningful strategies to influence behaviour change. Sadly there is not enough money to run group or individual sessions up and down the country so we are left with meaningless campaigns – this is not the fault of HIV charities, they do great work with limited funding

    2. I am not in agreement with the figure of 69% in relation to gay men. Looking at the latest HPA tables the observed total for 2011 of new infections was 5508 of which 2475 (that is 44.2%) were seen in gay men. If we use the adjusted figues (where the majority of the not reported cases are factored into the gay men figure) the percentage rises to 48.7% of all new infections. These are still high figures but they do not equate to 69% – where has this figure come from PN?

      http://www.hpa.org.uk/webc/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1237970242135 for the HPA stats as they make interesting reading.

      1. Sorry my figures are not correct – here is take 2:

        2010 observed new infections in MSM 2681 Total infections 6356 therefore 42.1% for MSM
        2011 observed new infections in MSM 2475 Total infections 6150 therefore 40.2% for MSM

        2010 adjusted new infections in MSM 2880 Total infections 6356 therefore 45.3% for MSM
        2011 adjusted new infections in MSM 3000 Total infections 6150 therefore 48.7% for MSM

        The HPA also go on to say that 881 of the observed infections in MSM also involved injecting drug use, if this was stripped out the % figures for MSM would be even less. These stats are ever evolving but I am unable to reconcile with the 69% MSM figure quoted in the article. Any comments PN???

        1. Hi W6, whether 44 per cent or 69 per cent, does it really matter?

          Even were the figure 10 per cent, the safe sex message and the reinforce of the undesirability of acquiring HIV, and why, shouldn’t change.

          I do think you immerse yourself in too many stats which eventually are bound to conflict and contradict one another.

          At the end of the day HIV is a humanitarian issue:- it cannot be defeated by clipboard wielding bureaucrats quoting reams of stats.

          Never heard the saying “Lies, damn statistics and lies!”?

          One thing I DO agree with you on:-

          “HIV commissioning is a shambles & is extremely beaurocratic – this has resulted in millions of £ being wasted.”

          Hear hear!!

          1. Again Samuel you are entitled to your opinion about the factual information I have presented. It is important to get the information right because as another commentator has said HIV does not discriminate and it is not just an MSM issue. the figure quoted of 69% suggests that HIV is just an issue for MSM, this is not the case, and should be challenged.

            You seemed happy to quote the statistic in your first comment to make your point, but now I have presented information that is probably closer to the truth statistics are not relevant – which is it to be I have to ask?
            Statistics can be massaged and used incorrectly, but at least have the courtesey to be consistent in your argument. I suspect that you criticise these statistics & my use of them as they conflict with your views on HIV prevention which are not necessarily borne out of facts.

            Surely you would agree that correct reporting of the situation is vital?

          2. You appear to be keen to prove PN’s stat wrong in order to diminish the threat HIV presents to gay men, as if it is no longer a problem that concerns us?

            The point is HIV has never stopped posing a major threat to gay men, no matter how the HIV sector has trivialised the consequences of HIV infection, or sexed up the virus in many of their failed prevention efforts.

            Why get hung up on a stat when the threat looms over us larger than it has ever done before:- especially now that the emphasis has shifted away from prevention to pushing gay men to get tested?

            Yes, years of failed HIV campaigns have created a problem which, hey presto, the same people funded to prevent HIV in the first place are now madly pushing testing as the solution.

            Strange, that.

            Is it conspiratorial to suggest, when the evidence is so blatant, that they WILFULLY failed in their objective in order to reach this situation where they can flog their services and pharma’s meds en masse?

            Nice little earner, non?

          3. Samuel, I am keen to prove that HIV is not just an issue for gay men / MSM & to move away from the myth that HIV is just a gay problem. I am keen to make sure that where stats are used then they should be accurate. I am sure many gay men / MSM would be concerned that the figure quoted appears to be way off the mark & could perpetuate many of the myths that still exist in our wider society about gay men and HIV.

            We are again in danger of going over old ground as I notice in your last comment you have reverted to your usual link between testing, pharma profits and your usual swipe on HIV charities.
            Testing is the cornerstone of managing any epidemic as any epidemiologist will tell you.

            Testing is not something that HIV charities are promoting on a whim, it is essential to reduce population viral load this = less new infections. Again you are entitled to disagree but most eminent HIV experts see the link with undiagnosed HIV & high levels of new infections.

          4. “Testing is the cornerstone of managing any epidemic as any epidemiologist will tell you.”

            How, exactly?

            That may have a whiff of truth were all gay men coming forward to being tested, but the fact is that no matter how much the HIV sector stamps its feet and begs and implores us to come forward for testing, most of us are not following the bait.

            And for those who DO come forward to be tested, do you honestly believe that a test is going to influence them to change their sexual behaviour, or make them less likely to take calculated risks when deciding to bareback?

            Hel-lo?

            Of course not!!

            The call to testing is a complete and utter scam via which only the likes of THT and the pharmas benefit (financially).

            They don’t want gay men to be properly educated about the severe risks of HIV infection because the ongoing spread of the virus is their lifeblood.

            They have exec members to lavish six-figure salaries and generous pension schemes upon and shareholders to appease, after all…

          5. Samuel you will never see the true value in testing as you seem only equate it with your views on financial gain. Take a wider perspective & ask what are the benefits of HIV testing, both to the individual, & wider society

            On an individual level the benefits are: risk assessment prior to testing, sexual health advice, knowing your status, accessing care if +ve, being closely monitored in care, getting prompt treatment, acheiving an undetectable viral load, being much less infectious, less risk of forward transmission, staying fit & well, less cost to society in health & social costs.

            Wider society benfits are: less people with undiagnosed HIV, treatment reduces overall viral load, reduces transmission risk, less new infections, reduced care & treatment costs on the NHS, less stigma & more acceptance of HIV.

            There are always risks with sex, condoms have a big part to play, but they are not 100% effective. Testing / diagnosis helps to change behaviour and outcomes for the better.

          6. “Samuel, I am keen to prove that HIV is not just an issue for gay men / MSM & to move away from the myth that HIV is just a gay problem.”

            WHY, W6, WHY?

            The quest you are on is counter-intuitive and trivialises the very real threat still facing our community.

            Are you therefore saying that even LESS HIV prevention funds should be targeted at true gay community and redirected to African asylum seekers instead?

            What justification is there in this?

            This only plays into the HIV sector/big pharm.’s modus operandi to see as many gay men infected as possible, because more infected gay men means more public funding attributed for the provision of services, and more demand for toxic, life-sustaining meds.

            Have you been to Berlin or San Francisco lately? Two cities where the rights of HIV-infected men have long trashed the right of negative men to remain positive.

            Result?

            When HIV infection reaches a certain level where it becomes normalised, mass assimilation of HIV becomes inevitable.

          7. Your interpretation of my comments are way off the mark, for me HIV is a problem for everyone, not just for MSM. Two groups are at higher risk (MSM / Africans) & therefore there must always be targeted efforts for these groups.

            Current data shows that adjusted HIV amongst MSM is stubbornly high and climbing. Heterosexual HIV acquired in the UK is also risng. New infections amongst the African community has fallen year on year since 2003. This to me suggests that MSM still require targeted prevention but may also indicate the complexities of engaging MSM in effective prevention strategies, one size will not work for all is what this tells me.

            Many Gay men I talk to do not feel comfortable that HIV is perceived as a gay problem & some feel that associating HIV with being gay adds to discrimination & negative sterotyping within the wider population.

            It’s a complex picture that requires many different interventions, which require sufficient funds & a variety of service providers.

          8. Samuel what do you mean by “true gay community”??? If someone is gay or bisexual or identifies as being hetrosexual but also has sex with men should they not be included in HIV prevention amd care strategies, regardless of thier ethnicity?

            As I suggested earlier you seem to have a very narrow perspective with regard to HIV, the nature of the virus is such that we must consider all groups in our society not just the “true gay community”. I do not beleive there is a gay community as equality advances have in the main weakened the sense that gay men need to belong to a “community” in it’s traditional sense.

            This is why I beleive that HIV is an issue for everyone as many MSM do not particularly “identify” as being Gay. Call it PC if you like, but this is how I see things. That said I am not a person who has ever been a big lover of the gay scene so my view may not be representative, or not representative of younger gay men.

          9. I think this particular study shows the complexities of HIV prevention & also suggests that -ve gay men are very aware of HIV & want to engage in harm reduction strategies (PrEP). They are also aware that treatment as prevention is a valid & an acceptable option for reducing forward transmission to thier sexual partners should they ever get a +ve diagnosis. This is why a variety of approaches in prevention are required.

            I think your view that HIV drugs are toxic really does not translate into what other HIV negative gay men think. As I have said previously, modern combinations are very well tolerated, & monitoring ensures any real problems are highlighted early. The views of these negative men must also be respected, & we should also respect the choices individiuals make about the type of sex they want to have. I also believe that a “cure” will be found in the next 15 yrs.

            Here is the link to the study http://www.aidsmap.com/PrEP-acceptable-to-UK-gay-men-studies-find/page/2323923/

    3. FYI
      If we take the number of people diagnosed and living with HIV in the UK of 92,000, this figure is identified by 60% men and 40% women/child4, given that 50% resides in London (46,000), the HPA figures suggest just 28,000 people accessing care

    4. The numbers of people living in the UK identified under the banner of LGBT, I start with the premise that in 20051, it was estimated between 5-7% of the UK population or 3.6million people are gay, if we take the current UK population of 62 million (2011), this would equate to 3.72million.

      Of the 62million UK population and 48.5 million adults, this would suggest an adult figure of 2.91million. I can’t find any conclusive figures to support the numbers of LGBT Youth.

      London being the largest city and a population of 8million, it is suggested that some 400,000 people are covered by the LGBT banner2. In 2010 it was suggested that only 1.5% population are gay3, this would equate to 930,000 people

      refer

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/dec/11/gayrights.immigrationpolicy
      2 http://www.bbc.co.uk/london/content/articles/2005/05/27/gay_london_feature.shtml
      3 http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/sep/23/gay-britain-ons

      and http://www.hpa.org.uk/hivuk2011

  2. The support that THT have given to all people infected or affected by HIV over more than 25 years is commendable – unfortunately due to a lack of belief by the majority one would think that this virus only infects gay and blacks – through nothing more than typical UK ignorance.

    Unlike the majority HIV Does NOT Discriminate

    1. You forgot junkies and it’s not just UK ignorance, it seems universal.

      I think a lot of this ignorance can be traced back to religious bigots who can’t talk about sex in a grown up and sensible manner and seek to hinder the education of others, whilst at the same time propagating lies and hatred.

  3. “Where have I once said I support THT?”

    Well, SamuelB
    This sounds like an endorsement to me;
    “well done THT!!”
    You might be shy and retiring and reluctant to admit it, but you just endorsed, praised and supported THT!

  4. PACEhealth have been running these type of workshops for years, again THT late on the trail? , refer http://www.pacehealth.org.uk/Workshops-at-PACE%282340453%29.htm

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