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Brighton: HIV cases on the rise

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  1. interesting article bang goes the myth that just gay men acquire HIV – now THT and other organisations need to target the general population and stop targeting certain groups with their campaigns.

  2. Has the message finally sank in that HIV does not discriminate? Everyone should have routine sexual health testing and HIV test should be mandatory part of this. Nobody should not have it because they are apparently “less high risk” … its that attitude which skews statistics.

    1. I think the point of the article is that the message has not sunk in which is why over 50% of new cases are for heterosexual men.

  3. Given some of the conversation I hear in the pub I’m not in the least suprised by this.
    A lot of these men and women seem to think they are bullet proof.
    If what I overhear is to be believed then these people are engaging in some of the riskiest sexual practices imaginable.

  4. It’s only going to get worse for heterosexuals – hopefully it won’t be as bad as it was for us gays in the 80s. However, depends on their ignorance.

    1. Or just the folly of the media they watch or read. When will the mainstream media start referring to it as a straight desease. They have been calling it a gay desease for years, so this was inevitable

  5. The media have referred to it as a “gay disease” I agree, however the campaigns continually target gay men and black Africans which reinforces the stereo type that it is mainly gay and black African.

    Seems if you are “straight” you are not targeted with campaigns as vigorous as gay and black Africans are and hence the increase in new diagnoses of HIV.

  6. The above comments are hugely important as I have been saying many of these things for over 2 years on PN – HIV should not be labelled as a disease only gay men & the African Community should be worried about.

    Through my involvement in a National HIV forum I come across more & more heterosexual men & women who have contracted HIV, many more than I expected to.

    The Department of Health needs to think about another National Campaign on the scale that was seen in the 80’s or at least provide a joined up approach in high prevalence areas.

    I think Gay men are very tired of being singled out as being at greater risk of contracting HIV & campaigns that are solely focused on them are now having the opposite effect -they just switch off.

    I DoH funded National awareness campaign is well over due & if the BBC3 “unsafe sex in the city” is anything to go by the heterosexual population are increasingly at risk of contracting HIV.

    1. The other issue is that HIV is not diagnosed correctly in the heterosexual population, particularly in men (women get screened during pregnancy). I know of several straight men who were only diagnosed when they became very unwell – at least 2 of these individuals had been complaining of being unwell for over a year, yet the one test that wasn’t completed was an HIV test. There needs to be more education amongst both the population but also amongst our GP’s who seem to be over reliant on the “at risk” demographic & are missing obvious symptoms time after time.

      New HIV infections is rapidly rising in the older population groups, typically they may be divorcees who at their time of life do not need to worry about contraception (read condoms) & therefore are oblivious to the problems associated with both HIV & other STI’s. HIV education is a major challenge across the spectrum including healthcare professionals. I believe gay men could do more by working together & lead from the front!

    2. “The above comments are hugely important as I have been saying many of these things for over 2 years on PN – HIV should not be labelled as a disease only gay men & the African Community should be worried about.”

      All credit to W6, he has been stressing this point for some time and often in the face of hostility and denial, for which I raise my hand.

      1. ……………………now you are making me blush Samuel.

        I do believe it is time that the Government took hold of the problem, they appear to be doing so with Welfare Reform, where they are prepared to invest over £2billion upfront in the hope that the Welfare Bill will reduce; likewise they really to need to properly invest in a well put together HIV / STI plan for England

        The DoH should be leading the way & providing both the NHS & , Local Government & where appropriate HIV Charities with the necessary direct funding so that prevention is taken seriously. All this bidding for contracts & salami slicing of funding creates division, duplicity & bureaucracy. Preventing 4 new HIV infections can save £1million in treatment costs. With HIV rates continuing to increase a well funded prevention plan is the only way to solve the ever growing squeeze on HIV services we are seeing. When there is a squeeze on resources we get the likes of Serco & Virgin sniffing around to make a fast buck

  7. My hope was that the stigma was a good deterrent, but instead the clubbers just carry on having unprotected sex no matter what

    1. How is stigma ever a good deterrent? Whilst it may be for some individuals for others it just makes them feel like having HIV is somehow inevitable & also there is much evidence to suggest that stigma deters people form testing regularly. We need to educate rather than deter in my view.

      I also find it interesting that you suggest that “clubbers” (read people who use alcohol & drugs?) could be more at risk of having unprotected sex – I am aware of growing anecdotal evidence that suggests even the most careful of individuals can have a surprise HIV diagnosis. I am becoming more concerned that oral sex can be a route for greater transmission risk than we traditionally think. The risk from oral sex can be quite high when there are other STI’s present in the throat or where the sexual partner receiving oral sex takes ejaculate in the mouth & his sexual partner is in the initial acute phase of HIV infection where the viral load can be in the millions.

      1. Spanner1960 10 Nov 2012, 7:34pm

        Nobody is saying the stigma is a good thing, but as it exists, one would imagine it would be one more reason to practice safer sex.

        If you don’t like the stigma, blame the selfish gay queens that truly demonstrate that there is no such thing as a “gay community”.

        1. Tigra has very clearly posted the following “My hope was that the stigma was a good deterrent” he uses the words “stigma” & “good” in the same sentence which gives the clear impression that stigma can be a good thing does it not?

          Of course we know that you always wish to make disparaging remarks towards other gay men because of your lack of tolerance for those who do not fit your very narrow minded point of view. As I have said previously you are a bigot in the true sense of the word & you have again proven me correct in this assertion.

          1. Spanner1960 11 Nov 2012, 4:24am

            “…he uses the words “stigma” & “good” in the same sentence which gives the clear impression that stigma can be a good thing does it not?”

            No. Try learning bloody English.
            What they were saying was the deterrent is good, not the stigma. Just because you get two words in the same sentence does not mean they are necessarily connected, you illiterate oaf.

          2. For the life of me I cannot see how you interpret the following as you do:

            “My hope was that the stigma was a good deterrent” – to me it is obvious that Tigra believes stigma is a good deterrent, but you are entitled to your opinion BUT please also allow others to have an opinion & try to argue the case in a pleasant manner rather than resort to insults. I also suggest you read the exchange carefully rather than soot from the hip!

            Please do not reply that my use of the term bigot towards you is an insult – it isn’t; the term bigot when used correctly perfectly describes your demeanor on these comments pages, a charge which I note you have not attempted to defend. I am sure the readers can draw their own conclusions on this & your interpretation of Tigra’s meaning in his statement.

  8. Chris Morley 10 Nov 2012, 2:21pm

    This report is factually wrong, as the UK’s Health Protection Agency’s HIV statistics prove.

    It claims that “In 2011, almost 2,000 people in the city (Brighton & Hove) became infected with the (HIV) virus.”

    But the national Health Protection Agency reported there were only 6,150 new HIV infections for the whole UK in 2011 –

    Detailed regional HPA reports prove there were only 371 new HIV diagnoses in 2011 in the entire South East Coast region (Kent, West and East Sussex). – see Table 1.
    In the whole of London there were 2637 new diagnoses in 2011.

    Brighton’s population is under half a million, yet this report tried to tell us 1 in 3 of all the new UK HIV diagnoses in 2011 were concentrated in Brighton.

    Possibly the TOTAL number of people with diagnosed HIV in Brighton is “almost 2000”.

    1. Thanks for pointing this out – I was thinking through the figures & wished I had looked at the story in more detail – I wrongly took the story at face value, maybe because it confirmed my views. Must try harder to look behind the headlines me thinks!

  9. Pink News has left out some important information namely the figures relate to those receiving treatment, the correct quote is:

    “In the past few years, the number of new cases in the city has been steadily rising, with almost 2,000 people treated last year compared to 758 in 2001”

    Despite this error the original article writer for the Argus makes the claim that

    “And this year, for the first time, 70% of new cases were caught through heterosexual sex with 30% involving over-50s, mainly men.”

    Despite the error in reporting the figures, if it is correct that 70% of new cases were it seen in the heterosexual population then the premise of the story remains correct.

    That said the figures could be skewed by several factors & cannot be directly compared to HPA figures, as they seem to be statistics produced by the local NHS Trust which covers a different geographical area than that of the South East Strategic Health Authority.

    Perhaps PN can clarify the position on the stats used.

    1. Chris Morley 11 Nov 2012, 11:48am

      The HPA statistics report the people diagnosed and living with HIV who’s home postcode is within the South East Coast region (Kent, West and East Sussex), in the case of Brighton. Neither this report, nor the report in The Argus, tell us who provided the statistics “almost 2000” people living with HIV and heterosexuals.
      The most likely source is the Claude Nicol Centre at the Sussex County Hospital, which is the city’s HIV treatment centre. But not all of their patients live in the city of Brighton & Hove, and not all Brighton & Hove residents going for HIV tests or receiving HIV care, use their local hospital clinic.

      Across the UK, a significant proportion of people living with HIV and those taking HIV tests do not use their local clinic.
      The actual number of Brighton city residents living with HIV could be well above, or well below 2000 and the % who are heterosexual may not be 70%.
      Only NW England publishes HIV statistics for both clinic and district

      1. You are correct with your analysis & I did try to hunt out some statistics that may back up the story but could not find anything remotely helpful to provide some further insight into this story. If the figures do come from the Claude Nicol Centre then one would hope that they have correctly identified that new HIV infections amongst 50+ heterosexual is indeed a “hidden problem” as the article suggests. Of course one cannot bank percentages so the absolute numbers would provide a better basis upon which to base the article on.

        The accuracy of the stats aside I do believe that HIV should be a concern for all & whilst targeted prevention is vital an overarching prevention strategy is essential, something the Government is yet to provide any leadership on at all.

  10. It is really concerning that PN can get this information wrong, I see this all the time in the media, simple wording being changed which as we see in this case has completely given an inaccurate impression of how things really are.

    If PN wish to continue to report correctly on HIV related stories then they should ensure that the writers have sufficient knowledge of the subject area.

    This is not the first time that PN has reported incorrectly – last year the report about Life Expectancy “forgot” to mention that LE is very clearly linked to baseline CD4 cell count & prompt diagnosis. This & gave the incorrect impression that HIV reduces LE by 15 yrs, which is incorrect.

    Late diagnosis (that is CD4 counts <200) are associated with poorer outcomes & can result in LE being reduced by 15 yrs.

    These are important areas to point out & get right!

    1. Thanks for the clarification W6:- why not contact PN HQ and offer your expertise in this area to ensure accuracy for future related news stories?

      1. Thanks for your vote of confidence – I am not sure that would be a good move, least of all I would not be able to continue to contribute here in an unbiased way!

  11. PN would save and be useful linking related outside supportive information also at the bottom of new items, on this topic e.g.

  12. Why are gay men not learning :-( Such a sad article to read.

  13. Surprising is that in a city of 156,000 there are 2,000 new infections in a year. Compare this to just 564 for the whole of Switzerland (population 7.9 million) in the same year. (Source: Swiss Federal Office of Public Health Factsheet on HIV 2011)

    The infections were also about 50/50 heterosexual sex / men having sex with men.

    Switzerland has some top rate sex saunas and clubs, legal prostitution, as well as a well traveled population and many tourists. Anyone who thinks the Swiss are not sexually active would be mislead. It is clearly the type of activity that is causing infections.

    It is possible that more people in the UK test for HIV than in Switzerland however the gay Metropoles Geneva, Zurich and Lausanne all have gay men’s health centres.

    1. “Surprising is that in a city of 156,000 there are 2,000 new infections in a year.”

      PN reported this in error the figure of 2000 relates to the number of people receiving treatment & not new diagnosis.

  14. “What many people don’t realise is the stigma of sufferers within the gay community.”

    This is oh so true.

    Today, pos men are far more likely to suffer often hurtful stigma and discrimination from other gay men than from the mainstream public.

    The most distasteful example of this can be found on dating and cruise sites, but also in bars and clubs where people are often irrationally judged by their status.

    I can’t understand the mentality of those who would put a virus in the way of getting to know or meeting someone they’re initially attracted to.

    Why turn someone who is pos down if you claim to always play safe?

    What exactly are you scared of or threatened by?

    Or do you delude yourself that if someone says they are neg then that’s a green light to dispense with condoms?

    I’m convinced a lot of gay men deceive themselves playing these games:- and a lot of good guys end up more depressed and isolated as a result.

    It’s time we united to cut through this status apartheid nonsense

    1. I think it is the case that condoms are only like 95% effective so there is always that risk of contracting HIV whether people are disproportionally scared of that other 5%

      1. The way I look at it, Jamie, the chance of catching HIV even through bareback sex is very low in itself, so the prospect of contracting it via a condom breaking is even more so:- indeed you’d have to be extremely unlucky.

        The fact is that many sexually active guys will be in this situation unwittingly with guys they believe to be neg but who may unknowlingly be pos due to the fact that we know that many guys do not know their true status.

        So perhaps the answer is more education around the correct application of condoms to ensure they do not break?

        There is also a perceived elitism among a minority of neg men who blatantly look down their noses – or can barely conceal their contempt – at those who are positive.

        How on earth can that kind of attitude be prevailing in 2012?

        It beggars belief!

        1. Is it true that ‘the chance of catching HIV even through bareback sex is very low in itself’? I thought it was highly probable that if you had bareback sex with someone who was HIV you would catch HIV. The THT must have done a good job on scaring me into using condoms.

          1. @Mark
            Of course the risk of contracting HIV is greater when condoms are not consistently used; however I am not sure I agree totally with your statement: “……highly probable that if you had bareback sex with someone who was HIV you would catch HIV”.

            To clarify the situation, over 50% of the new HIV infections are acquired from the 25% of undiagnosed individuals with HIV. Those of us who are on successful treatment are unlikely to pass on the virus even if condoms are not used. Having an undetectable viral load has been demonstrated to be as effective if not more effective than using condoms in the heterosexual couples to prevent transmission to the negative partner.

            In my experience gay men need more education on the risks associated with undiagnosed HIV. Many guys seek out or sero-sort “negative” individuals because they wrongly believe this is the safer option…….this sadly can lead to HIV being passed on if condoms are not used where one partner has undiagnosed HIV.

        2. Consistent condom use must remain the bedrock of HIV prevention & as a positive man I absolutely always use condoms for anal sex. I have a real concern that because the terms “clean, disease free” are often used on hook up sites many guys are avoiding having safer sex with +ve gay men on the basis of a false premise.

          In an ideal world we should all assume everyone is HIV +ve & use condoms; sadly real life is not quite so black & white; people make choices & take risks. Some are taking risks that they are totally unaware of because they do not understand the risk posed by undiagnosed HIV & the importance of viral load & infectiousness.

          I have read studies that confirm that during the first 4 -6 weeks of infection, prior to anti-bodies being formed, newly infected individuals can be up to 28 x more infectious than when the immune response is kicks in (so called sero-conversion). This in my view may increase risks associated with oral sex, which is often viewed as low risk.

      2. Here is some info about condoms & their effectiveness when used in what I term “the real world” – we are all human & often do not use condoms correctly, which results in unexpected breakages; this from Aidsmap:

        “Condoms used 100% of the time, though not necessarily 100% perfectly (i.e. with usual rates of breakage and slippage) provide protection of 80 to 85% against HIV (uncertainty range: 76 to 93%). In other words, for every 100 cases of HIV infection that would happen without condom use, about 15 (range: 7 to 24) would happen when condoms are used consistently.”

        Condoms provide a good degree of protection against HIV & should always be used; this protection can be increased to upwards of 96% where a +ve person is on successful treatment. The majority of new HIV infections come from undiagnosed individuals – it is estimated that over 50% (could be 80%) of all new infections come from the undiagnosed fraction which is approx 25% in the UK.

  15. Is this ‘good’ news? Of course if it means HIV in one community is falling then it is. However if it’s rising in another – then it isn’t. However a bugbear of mine is still how HIV is only deemed relevant these days if the story has the word ‘heterosexual” is involved somewhere. The mainstream media would not report if the HIV rate in the LGBT community rose 50% tomorrow. However a small spike in the number of heterosexual infections – it becomes newsworthy.

    1. true – down to the medical and other agencies targeting gay and black Africans and not dealing with the issue that “straight” people can acquire HIV too. I know guys who go to Thailand and have acquired HIV that way and they are not gay. The emphasis should be on Universal testing and not just certain groups of people.

  16. With regards to what John Percy said: on the scene in Brighton there is a HUGE amount of quite vocal and vile stigma against HIV+ guys.
    A friend of mine was once informed by a complete stranger that apparently I was ‘riddled’. What’s worse are the online dating/hookup sites and Grindr: “seeking bareback slutpuppy cumdog fun, CLEAN ONLY”. It makes me laugh at how stupid people are.
    That being said; LGBT life in Brighton isn’t ALL about the scene. I don’t go out in Kemptown anymore; I still meet plenty of LGBT people, and for the most part they’re alot kinder and accepting.
    I think you can equate gay men on the scene to a pack of wild dogs; the more there are in one place, the more vicious they get.

    1. It’s just insecure gay men who still carry baggage around and so are projecting their internalised homophobia at each other:- that’s why crowd environments can sometimes feel quite hostile as people create shields of attitude and arrogance to hide their insecurities behind.

      Throw HIV into the equation and that can be an incendiary device for the most immature and ignorant of minds to wield.

      Try mixing in more mature and accepting social places where people tend to have their sh*t more together and arrogant types are frowned upon and made to fee unwelcome.

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