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Thirtieth anniversary of Terry Higgins’ death marked with fresh HIV prevention call

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  1. Gemma Gillon 4 Jul 2012, 4:04pm

    ‘ In the case of X v Mid Sussex Citizens Advice Bureau, the Supreme Court is to decide whether or not volunteers can claim disability discrimination. This case concerns an unpaid, volunteer advice worker. Following a 9 month period of training, she undertook a number of duties, providing advice work. When she informed her manager that had contracted HIV, her manager told her that she could not continue due to the “risk to other staff”. Having HIV meant that X falls into the statutory definition for disability, but so far the ET, EAT and Court of Appeal have determined that she is unable to bring a case for discrimination as she received no remuneration for her work ‘ (Sorry about that Terry..)

  2. Samuel B. 4 Jul 2012, 4:27pm

    The truth is, THT has had 30 years worth of HIV prevention budgets and today resides over the highest conversion rates among gay men ever recorded.

    THT’s core business is servicing the needs of those with HIV, which it does with some efficiency.

    However if we are to see real effort in reducing HIV rates then THT should do the right thing and relinquish its tight grip on the HIV prevention budget and allow others to focus their efforts exclusively on that one objective.

    Because of its work with pos people, THT is too sensitive about tip toeing around their feelings to be able to get a proper grip on dealing with HIV prevention and the kind of approach needed to impact upon and make gay men seriously consider the implications and consequences of HIV infection.

    I would have a lot more respect for THT if they admitted they can’t keep every plate spinning and be a master of all trades and did the right thing and gave up the fight against the spread of HIV.

  3. Over the past 15 years, THT has been handed £2m per year from the Department of Health to spend on gay men’s HIV prevention through the CHAPs programme. Of that £2m, they’ve consistently underspent, and not followed through on what they were contracted to do (sounds a bit like Pride here!), including campaigns every quarter, sector development, work to train staff, mass media campaigns, providing leadership and MOST importantly, bringing down the new diagnosis rate of HIV.

    Since 2000, the rate of new diagnosis of HIV in gay men has gone up steadily, reaching a peak in 2007, then again in 2010. last year, there were 3000 infections in gay men – the highest rate in history.

    Throughout that period, HIV prevention funds have sat with THT – not just nationally, but also locally in many towns and cities across the UK. THT have eaten up smaller charities and stripped away assets whilst raising funds through dinners, galas etc.The best thing they could do is hand over the reins to others.

  4. Over the past 15 years, THT has been handed £2m each year from the Department of Health to spend on gay men’s HIV prevention through the CHAPs programme. Of that £2m, they’ve consistently underspent, and not followed through on what they were contracted to do (sounds a bit like Pride here!), including campaigns every quarter, sector development, work to train staff, mass media campaigns, providing leadership and MOST importantly, bringing down the new diagnosis rate of HIV.

    Since 2000, the rate of new diagnosis of HIV in gay men has gone up steadily, reaching a peak in 2007, then again in 2010. last year, there were 3000 infections in gay men – the highest rate in history.

    Throughout that period, HIV prevention funds have sat with THT – not just nationally, but also locally in many towns and cities across the UK. THT have eaten up smaller charities and stripped away assets whilst raising funds through dinners, galas etc.The best thing they could do is hand over the reins to others.

  5. I think Terry Higgins would be very pleased with the World class care that HIV+ individuals have access to here in the UK; it is a real tradgedy that approximately only 5% of those early diagnosed individuals are alive today to see the advances that have been made.

    One thing seems not to have changed much is the level of fear, stigma and discrimination that still exists in relation to HIV & this continues to help drive new infection rates.

    We should celebrate the fact that HIV is now a managable condition & young people today are not faced with the frightening thought that receiving and HIV diagnosis 30 yrs ago meant a life cut very short.

    Thankyou Terry Higgins for inspiring those who continue to make life better for postive individuals up and down the country day in day out.

  6. Samuel B. 4 Jul 2012, 5:41pm

    Hear hear W6.

    But the same level of praise, sadly, cannot be awarded to THT’s appalling, indeed virtually negligent, record where preventing the spread of HIV is concerned.

    That HIV is now laregely a manageable condition – albeit that it remains a chronic and incurable disease that will lower the infected person’s lifespan by around 15 years – is no excuse in letting up on the non-negotiable message that a life without HIV is a life best lived, no matter how many pos people’s sensibilities that message may offend.

    Indeed most pos people I know share most gay men’s desire to see that message shouted from the roof tops if only to deter a new generation of largely uninformed youngsters from followIng their path into a lifetime of toxic drug adherence and all the possible side effects and pitfalls that entails.

  7. Samuel B. 4 Jul 2012, 6:59pm

    W6, the point about this story that irks with me is that it is the same old same old every time the THT let’s the media know it has a birthday to celebrate.

    Cue the same old rhetoric from Nick Partridge that more must be done to reduce HIV rates, and before we know it it is anniversary time again and THT are blowing their trumpet yet again amid a background of soaring HIV conversions among gay men.

    I dare say we will be here in ten years times lamenting annual rates of 10,000-plus and still Mr Partridge will be enforcing his malign grip over our company and uttering words of false sincerity who I began ringing hollow 20 years ago.

    1. Samuel B. 4 Jul 2012, 7:24pm

      Oops, my spellchecker appears to be working overtime. For “company” read community and for “who I” read which.

  8. The HIV / Sexual Health landscape is set to significantly change in 2013 when the local Town Halls via the Health & Wellbeing Boards take on this new responsibility……..

    The only tangible outcome they will have is to reduce levels of late diagnosis so there will be no real accountability in terms of any other outcomes. Prevention is likely to become a post code lottery, as Town Hall officials choose where to purchase their services from.

    This will lead to more fragmentation, more complexity in terms of comissioning of services & therefore less money going into prevention interventions.

    Like everything else with the CONDEMS there will be very little focus on HIV Prevention, be that gay men the African community or the hetrosexual population – prehaps THT should just focus on protecting services for +ve individuals & throw prevention services to the commerical providers.

    Better the devil you know comes to mind!

    1. I should clarify that the above post relates to HIV / sexual health prevention services and not HIV inpatient and outpatient services which will be commissioned nationally.

    2. Never a truer word spoken in jest, W6!

      Servicing the needs of pos people while also working to prevent the spread of HIV are mutually incompatible tasks.

      The overriding concern of the PC-riddled HIV sector is to reduce stigma:- a perceived need that far overrides – in their eyes at least – the easily far greater need to prevent onward HIV transmissions.

      Yet the only way to destigmatise something is to normalise it, and whether unconsciously or intentionally atrocious failures in HIV prevention have led to a pos status fast becoming the norm within inner city scenes.

      One in 7 gays in Brighton are now pos, how long before one in 6, 5, 4…?

      Is that the price we must pay, like HIV-ravaged gay ghettos in New York and San Francisco, for using HIV stigma as the stick to beat those calling for a more enlightened – i.e.. impactful and hard-hitting – approach to HIV prevention?

      The NHS is slashing its drugs bill with ruthless zeal. Who’s to say HIV drugs won’t be in the firing line soon?

      1. Samuel
        I do hope that individuals like you will hold your Local Authority to account when they take control of HIV prevention services, & that we do not see these services curtailed or given to the most commercially viable service provider.

        Locally commissioned prevention services are likely to reflect the local demographic, which may not be in keeping with your view that HIV is a gay men’s condition. There is a real danger that prevention services will be downgraded where the LA feels it is not a priority.

        The London HIV specialist commissioning group have been driving the cost effectiveness of ensuring treatment is highly effective & at the right cost. The development of National HIV purchasing agreement will drive down costs which will enable the drugs budget to go further. We are a the point where some drugs are coming off patent which will also reduce cost. Treatment is cost effective & has been shown to have a secondary role in prevention.

  9. I think the time has come for us +ve individuals to look after our own, & let the negative population organise & run the prevention campaigns.

    The Statutary funding provided for prevention is not much more than 3 or 4 million £ a year if that For all the grief HIV charities get because negative individuals seem incapable to use condoms to keep themselves safe, it seems a small price to pay to ensure continuity of services for those of us who have HIV.

    Peer support is the way forward, so perhaps those who are passionate about prevention should support their peers who are less able to remain safe – take a leaf out of the HIV+ve community & provide support to those who need it.

    I am embarking on an exciting new peer support project & I think given that prevention services are going to become fragmented & lacking in outcomes, my expertise is better used ensuring +ve people have a voice when it comes to the commissioning of HIV Services, bring on new challenges I say!

    1. I applaud your new stance W6, but this isn’t an us and them situation.

      We’re all gay men, whether neg or pos, and if someone has something positive and radical to contribute to a new approach to HIV prevention then they should heard regardless.

      The last thing we want this to turn into is a form of HIV status apartheid.

      Conversely I’d add that a new approach must be led above and beyond all else with ideas anchored in common sense and devoid of excuses for not doing what’s obviously sensible.

      We must stop failing to act through fear of offending or victimising those already infected, otherwise we stand to make victims of thousands more gay men who still stand to be infected but for the presence of impactful but realistic and honest campaigns centred around the potential pitfalls of HIV Infection.

      But can you honestly see the THT not applying for the next round of prevention funding when grabbing all available sexual funding at all costs appears to be its permanent default setting?

      1. It is up to the local commissioners to award the contracts to the service providers who meet the contract specification – this kind of bidding system is only going to waste more money & where commercial providers are engaged I have to ask if you will be happy that these companies will have to turn a profit out of such operations. Personally I think this is totally wrong and will not improve prevention.

        The only health outcome the Health Bards have is to actively reduce late diagnosis, which will involve a further drive to improve testing rates – something you are not particularly keen on Samuel.

        There will be a real need for local activists to hold the local commissioners to account, I really hope that people will step up to the plate to ensure prevention services are protected.

        Be careful what you wish for Samuel, I know where my loyalties are when push comes to shove!

        1. Certainly food for thought, W6. Thanks for posting :)

          1. I am impressed by your level of restraint so far Samuel, usually with HIV related stories you are much more hostile towards THT.

            Is this a more measured Samuel B I wonder, or are you lulling us into a false sense of security??

          2. Why so cynical, W6?

            When you post in a restrained fashion, I respond likewise, and you have given me no cause to do so in this latest exchange.

            I’ve merely stated my warning:- do not believe THT really will, finally, get to grips with HIV prevention this time, despite what Partridge says.

            He says the SAME THING every 5 years just to placate us and enable the THT to continue business as usual because it thinks we will always forget the false and hollow promises.

            HIV prevention cannot be achieved with the bureaucratic box-ticking approach that THT applies to its services division.

            It requires a holistic, compassion-led response because we are talking about our community’s well being here.

            Indeed, lives are also at risk where HIV is contracted through ignorance of the full facts and not detected early enough.

            The call to testing isn’t the solution:- it is one of several objectives that need to form apart of the artillery in the ongoing battle against HIV.

            DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE!!

        2. I guess I am cynical because in the past you have gone all guns blazing to be highly critical of anything connected with THT (and most other HIV charities), hence why I was suprised by your apparent restraint. Long may it continue!

  10. Really liking the new integrated THT and MyHIV website that has been re-launched today – looks fresh and easy to navigate. Terry would be proud of the acheivments made to those of us living with HIV & the work that THT do to improve the sexual health up and down the UK.

    Thanks to EJAF & all the stakeholders who have put together this award winning resource!

    https://www.tht.org.uk/our-charity

    1. “New figures suggest that without the existing emphasis on safer sex across the gay community, that figure would have been higher.”

      Can anyone tell me when was the last time THT run a safer sex campaign please?

      Instead we see the most ridiculous campaign from THT like “The more men you have, the more likely you’ll pick up an STI”.
      NO KIDDING! REALLY? Isn’t that obvious to everyone? Well done THT… keep wasting money on pointless, ridiculous campaigns…

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