great stuff, and power to their elbows and all that, but why is this only happening one day a year, and only in Central London?
A lot can happen the other 364 days all around the UK. We need to have mobile clinics that can travel around and people can just pop in and out.
They do it for breast screening and many other medical checks, so why not for this?
Mobile breast screening doesn’t operate on a walk in basis, you still need an appointment and it’s still only available to women within the prescribed age group. Also, you don’t get the result immediately, you have to wait 7-10 days.
That was a reply to Spanner…..
You know what I am saying here.
One day a year in London just simply isn’t enough.
I do take your point tho.
Whilst I support the move to increase HIV awareness, I am a little concerned about the casual aspect of operating a testing service in the way. Linking it with a social outing seems cavalier when an unexpected result can be devastating and ultimately life changing; not something I would want to do on a tipsy night out with friends (even more so with the often younger crowd in G-A-Y). Can’t help but think it is selling a test as a lighthearted thing, similar to piling into a photo booth. That said, I have not seen how these events operate so am happy to be corrected by those with experience. I hope the support, both before and after testing, is up to the job.
I am very concerned that these testing clinics are being set up amid the backdrop of venues where people’s immune systems are already likely to be compromised by various substances.
There is also the danger that testing in such environements trivialises the seriousness of the issue in hand, and is also a rather defeatist approach on the part of the testers because they are effectively saying “If you won’t come to us then we will bring our clinics to you.”
Gay men shouldn’t feel coerced or pressurised into testing, yet many may feel obliged to do so in this context due to peer pressure.
Testing should be a private, individual choice and not thrust into the full glare of a raucous, hedonistic environment such as GAY.
To pick up on the point you make Samuel relating to the immune system – we have covered this before. An HIV test (rapid or otherwise) is not looking at the immune system – all tests look for antibodies to HIV that are either present or not. Drinking alcohol or engaging in any other behaviours does not change the result, it will be either reactive or non reactive no matter how much alcohol (or drugs) are in the blood or saliva sample.
Having very close connections with the staff at 56 Dean Street I am very confident that they would not undertake a test where an individual was clearly the worst for wear – the team are well versed in dealing with this sort of thing, they frequently have to deal with individuals who have had a large vodka or other substance to provide dutch courage before entering the main clinic for such a test.
The message here is that HIV testing is quick & can be completed without invasive drawing of blood samples, in a relaxed non clinical setting.
Why not go along to G.A.Y on Saturday 1st & take a test to see for yourself Samuel – the experience may change your view somewhat. Just a thought.
At my age (33)?
You flatter me!
“At my age (33)?” Why not?? Set an example to the younger guys ;-)
Anybody over the age of 20 is considered an old fart in that place.
(except Jeremy Joseph of course, who is still allegedly bonking 14yo’s.)
Whilst I can understand the more conservative comments about community outreach testing (which this effectively is) this particular intervention is an extension to the already successful weekly event held at GAY by the staff at 56 Dean Street, which is the busiest HIV / STI clinic in the UK.
The event takes place in the basement bar during day time hours in the main. Testing does not take place amongst people enjoying a few drinks.
Testing is completed by qualified staff with the appropriate safeguards that are afforded to all outreach services. The staff at 56 Dean Street are well placed to deal with any “reactive tests” & provide the necessary support prior to & post testing.
Outreach interventions like this are often able to connect with so called “hard to reach” individuals & sadly I am aware the weekly service has identified many positive diagnosis.
For many young guys testing in this environment overcomes the fear & concern about going to a traditional HIV / STI clinic.
This is why we think this event is important;
• 1 in 4 people with HIV are unaware of their status.
• This means their health is at risk, and potentially the health of their partners.
• Early diagnosis saves lives and improves life expectancy.
• Known HIV can be treated as a manageable chronic health condition.
(life expectancy for those who start treatment at the recommended time can live to 75, compared with those diagnosed later who may live to 58). That’s a big difference!
So please support this event and help us to reduce the spread of HIV and provide care for people with HIV.