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UK: HIV infection rate for gay men at record high

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  1. Gay men are more likely to have casual sexual encounters and far too many have a ‘bareback’ fantasy. I’ve lost count the number of sexual partners I’ve had where there’d been a debate (cause by their reluctance) over wearing a condom during sex. The simply fact is that too many gay men are irresponsible. We can bury our heads in the sand and say that this is being unfair or stereotypical but how much longer are we going to pretend the statistics are fibbing? To tackle HIV requires a radical rethink over gay male attitudes to sex and people should stop being offended or yelling ‘homophobe’ to anyone who points this out.

    1. The homophobia that is engrained into our culture leads to a lot of gay people thinking less of themselves. People who have less respect for themselves take less care of their health; they don’t think as much about consequences and are more likely to engage in risky behaviour.

      I think this is one of the reasons gay marriage is important. It says to young people that gay people and gay relationships are just as valid and fulfilling as heterosexual ones. Improving attitudes and improving self respect will be helpful in the fight against HIV.

      Of course, it is no substitute for sex education, STI screening and most importantly: using condoms! It annoys me these press releases always talk about ‘getting tested’ but don’t also mention about using condoms. The BBC article on this yesterday was the same: no mention of condoms anywhere.

  2. Spanner1960 29 Nov 2012, 3:41am

    Before everyone jumps on the usual “Well straights do it so why can’t we?” – also bear in mind that the statistics are not balanced – LGBT people only account for 6% of the population, men only half of that so 3% vs the rest is a pretty damning realisation.

    It really is about time gay men got their sh|t together and stopped making damn fool excuses. All those people that demand that we should be allowed to donate blood should bury their heads. in shame. I cannot believe that after 30 years, and all the promotion, all the warnings, and most importantly, all the deaths, that absolutely FCK ALL has changed.

    I despair at the short sightedness of people and the fact their brains are quite obviously in their bollocks.

    1. To support and balance the news item, I refer to of which 2,900 Hetrosexual rates are declared for 2011.

      Based upon the UK Adult population of around 45million and a 5% LGBT population of (2.25million LGBT people) of the 100,000 HIV positive people diagnosed would also equate to 4.44%.

  3. I could understand this if H.I.V. had just appeared on the scene and had caught everyone by surprise, but it hasn’t, it’s been around for decades now. I wish I could but I can’t think of any excuses for behaviour that leads to this.

    The haters have a field day with figures like this.

  4. There are NO hard hitting advertising campaigns, educating youngters about HIV. I remember them.. they scared me to death!!

    Is sex education standardised across ALL schools? Religious schools have a history of “dumbing down” their sex education. It has been proven that european countries with more liberal attitudes towards sex have less teenage pregnancy and less HIV transmission.

    HIV is NOT treated like any other chronic disease; HIV is treated in secret. Medicines are collected at “specialist hospital sites” (rather than regular pharmacies). Communication spreads understanding…

    SOME HIV patients continue to live a reckless life (straights included) via bareback sex with other HIV infected people. This increases and encourages HIV Viral mutation, which can lead to drug resistant versions of HIV… :(

    Phone apps with GPS/Distance functions can encourage reckless and drunk fuelled “booty call” behaviours

    Let’s Talk about it – at school and in our communities.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 29 Nov 2012, 12:55pm

      I agree. Education is key. It should start in the schools at a very young age and continue until they leave and should be incorporated into general sex education. There should be a uniform standard througout the education system whether parents object or not and should be mandatory for all pupils.

      The new drugs on the market to manage the disease are lulling a lot of younger, immature and irresponsible gay males into a false sense of security. The need to know that HIV is a an extremely chronic disease but more importantly in almost all cases it is fatal. That’s the message that needs to get out, that there is NO cure and probably won’t be for a very long time. The health organisations need to take an aggressive role with government support to begin an equally aggressive, ongoing campaign of HIV education across the UK.

  5. Also- bear in mind this fact- that sex may START off “safe”- but I know of several instances where the condom has been “discarded” half way through-sometimes unknown to the recipient. Also- don’t inform your GP of any testing/results. It will be ll over the surgery and the local community in record time.

    1. “discarded condoms”: I’m sure it happens.. but i don’t know how prevalent this behaviour it?? Why would someone do that? deliberately infect? Education is the key. How many of us know people with HIV? HIV is treated in shame at separate treatment centres where the staff are instructed on strict confidentiality, which (if requested) is fine… but communication spreads understanding.

      1)Mandatory Sex education at school is necessary.
      2) HARD hitting factual advertising on HIV is needed (again) – diluting down the perception that HIV is an easily treated chronic disease (like diabetes or Cardiovascular disease).

  6. I think we need to get tough on people who know they have HIV and deliberately withhold this formation from sexual partners.

    When people lying about their status have unprotected sex they should be prosecuted for GBH.

    1. It is all very well trying to demonise individuals with a confirmed HIV diagnosis, but nearly 90% of these people are on treatment & are un-infectious. The majority of new HIV cases in the UK (as many as 80%) come from undiagnosed individuals not those people with HIV who are on treatment & have an undetectable viral load. How can someone tell you their status if they do not know themselves.

      The law in England & Wales is very clear, transmission of HIV has to have actually occurred before a prosecution can be brought & the individual who is alleged to have passed HIV on must have known they had it. There growing is evidence to suggest that the threat of prosecution may stop people testing & also deters people from being open about their status, which is never a good thing.

      Use a condom & assume everyone has HIV – it really is that simple!

      1. Spanner1960 29 Nov 2012, 11:29am

        Is it true to say that an HIV+ person on medication that has an undetectable viral load is effectively “safe”?

        I’m not for one minute suggesting they have unsafe sex, but are you saying that they probably could and not infect the recipient?

        1. Yes it is correct to say that someone who has had an undetectable viral load for 6 months or longer & does not have any other STI is effectively un-infectious. There are on-going trials specifically looking at the MSM population, to correspond to the studies in Heterosexual couples where treatment was found to be 96% effective at reducing transmission. HIV is not effectively transmitted in levels below 1000 copies per ml of blood. Undetectable these days is <40 copies in the blood or some tests can be as low as <20 copies.

          There are concerns that HIV in the semen can spike, this is particularly true when there is another STI present – the message is definitely use a condom as there is still a marginal risk of infection occurring.

          (Cue the onslaught of comments stating that this is effectively encouraging unprotected sex)

          1. vversatile 29 Nov 2012, 1:06pm

            Sad that someone who is effectively giving a scientific answer gets so many votes down.

            A lot of the comments on this article are as bad and ill-informed as the ones I’d expect to find in the Daily Mail.

            Is it any wonder that some gay men have huge problems telling people about their HIV status and that there is so much stigma involved.

          2. I don’t think the negative ratings are all necessarily the views of the commentators here. I am being targeted by a troll who uses a variety of aliases & has multiple email addresses. PN are aware of this individual but he is making it very difficult for them to prevent him from being so disruptive. I guess we have to learn to live with such individuals who just want to prevent decent debate.

            Thanks for your comment vversatile

          3. On the basis of W6_bloke’s analysis I can, finally, discard the condoms but will be sure to serosort only those who have had undetectable viral loads for 6 months or longer and are devoid of any other STI. With only 4% risk of transmission that is only marginally more than we are told that we are at risk of HIV infection from using condoms so problem, er, solved!

          4. That is your choice Jon, but please do also read that I said that condoms should continue to be used – I was asked a question & I answered it fully & correctly. We are all adults here so if you wish to have unprotected sex on the basis of what I have said so be it.

            But if you want to make a point here, think about this. Someone with less than 40 copies of the virus in 1ml of their blood is a much safer bet that someone with 2million copies of the virus in 1ml of blood, so if you are going to have unprotected sex do so with an individual who is diagnosed & is on successful treatment & had an undetectable viral load.

            Pointing the finger & individuals who have tested & are looking after themselves by taking regular medication is not going to solve the problem – perhaps if the “negative” community took the same level of care & responsibility we would see HIV cases dropping like a stone!

  7. casparthegood 29 Nov 2012, 10:59am

    There is also the “it won’t happen to me” mindset . I’ve lost count of the people who thought that about HIV and other risk taking idiocy. Play Safe cos the alternative isn’t that appealing folks

  8. As they say the devil is in the detail:

    Looking at MSM specifically the total number of diagnosed & estimated undiagnosed HIV was 40,100 in 2010 – this has remained steady at 40,000 for 2011, very good news indeed.

    In 2010 it was estimated that 25.6% of MSM had undiagnosed HIV (10,300) this has dropped to 20% in 2011 (8,100).

    This shows that the testing message is getting through & the rise in confirmed diagnosis is rather perversely to be welcomed.

    If this trend continues we will no doubt see new HIV cases start to significantly reduce in the coming yrs.

    1. Spanner1960 29 Nov 2012, 11:32am

      40,000 infections a year is very good new indeed?

      You need your head examining.
      Thirty years on after all the campaigning, it should be next to nothing.

      1. The figures above are cumulative figures since HIV surveillance began. The annual figure for new diagnosis this year was just over 3000. Apologies for any confusion!

  9. What is going on and what aren’t we being told? A few days ago the two Princes lavished praise on Terrance Higgins Trust for driving HIV infection rates down, and now these figures! At the same time tht is scaring us all to test this week by telling us that 25,000 people in the UK don’t know they have HIV (the week before they were telling us it was just 1 in 4 of positive people).

    I clearly remember the mid to late 1980s when many hundreds died and many more were taking up hospital beds across the land. If tht’s claim that 25,000 have HIV and don’t know it then WHY aren’t we today seeing the same situation as occurred in the 1980’s with mass deaths and disfiguration?

    Clearly we are being lied to and tht is employing the kind of scare tactics it won’t use in its campaigns to get us to test, and in a void of any graphical HIV prevention campaigns. What the hell are they playing at, and how much longer do we have to put up with their nonsense that is luring gay men towards infection?

    1. I think you will find Jon that it is estimated that there are 100,000 cases of HIV in the UK, 75,000 of which are un-diagnosed 25,000 are not aware of their diagnosis, this is 1 in 4 (at least it was when I went to school). The figures for MSM specifically regarding undiagnosed HIV was estimated at 10,300 in 2010, it is now 8,100 (see above) This is very good news indeed & shows testing campaigns are working.

      The total figure (diagnosed & undiagnosed) for HIV in MSM has remained static at approximately 40,000 cases since 2010. Yes new diagnosis has sadly increased, but this is directly related to the reduction in undiagnosed HIV. This has not been clearly picked up by many commentators, but was mentioned by Paul Ward. To my mind as long as the undiagnosed fraction continues to fall then we will at last see year on year reductions in total HIV infections within the MSM population.

    2. THT theses days is an organisation who spend most of their energy protecting their own jobs and salaries – and have reduced their frontline services to a bare minimum –

      Their campaigns are feeble and so ambiguous – bus routes – mind the gap – sponges – It’s time for plain speaking!

      1. I’m all for plain speaking as it is factual & and reflects how HIV is today in the UK in 2012.

        So what does plain speaking look like to you DJ?

        1. Iwouldliketoknow? 29 Nov 2012, 4:07pm

          Strange that certain people comments are now disappearing with so much negative results?

        2. Get your idea solutions from your THT clients and stop wasting funding retaliating to comments on here.

          1. “Get your idea solutions from your THT clients and stop wasting funding retaliating to comments on here”

            Ooh perhaps I should check my bank balance, do you know something that I don’t JD?? As a volunteer for THT I don’t get paid – I don’t even claim any travel or lunch monies because I do my volunteer role from home!

            Whilst I appreciate that THT is not to everyone’s liking why is it that when I make factually based comments people assume that I work for THT???? Some of us +ve people want to make a difference & to do that it means becoming educated about HIV, not relying on myth, out of date information & hearsay.

            By all means have a pop JD but do us all a favour & put forward your own arguments rather than attacking others…………….it’s all to easy to criticise me thinks!

    3. The reason for the lack of massive deaths is anti-retroviral therapy, which delays the onset of AIDS to ??? Maybe never.

      On the other hand, infecting someone with HIV knowingly should be a felony. It’s not morality, it’s epidemiology.

  10. What I worry about it that there are a few different strains of HIV, Drug-resistant HIV is on the increase in sub-Saharan Africa. It will arrive in the UK and before long we could have deaths like we saw in the 80’s.

    1. “Drug-resistant HIV is on the increase in sub-Saharan Africa” this is indeed true, and it is often a consequence of the lack of continuous access to treatment, poor adherence, & also the use of older drugs like D4T which make the side effects difficult to cope with.

      Approximately 10% of new HIV infections show resistance to one class of drug or more in the UK, but this has remained stable for a number of years now. Drug resistant HIV should not be underestimated as it does limit treatment options going forward, but we are lucky to have access to newer drugs that have higher resistance thresholds than those used in sub-Saharan Africa. The number of cases of HIV2 in the UK is relatively small with the majority of infections being caused by HIV1 Group M, sub-type B. All modern drugs are effective with HIV1 there are less drug options for HIV2 but this is a relatively slow progressing virus.

  11. Educationing people person by person is essential – all HIV organisations rely on website info now – THT’s frontline Helpline is reduced to office hours only with a skeleton staff and virtually no volunteers –
    People mostly assume this doesn’t concern them – and re-stating the rise in diagnosis in Gay Men particularly just re-enforces everyone else’s dismissal.

    1. The Government needs to put much more money into prevention – and stop tinkering around the edges. We need a National Policy on HIV / Sexual Health, something this Government is yet to produce. The £2.5 million per year investment in prevention for MSM & the African Community is simply not enough, when the cost of treating one case of HIV as it stands at the moment is about £300 million for the lifetime of that individual.

      We need a National media campaign to raise awareness for everyone & not just continually target the at risk groups, notably Gay men, but despite the House of Lords recommendations made on this subject the Government have not acted.

      “THT’s frontline Helpline is reduced to office hours only” this is because the DoH pulled the plug on the £500,000 annual contract & awarded it to the likes of Serco. THT now operates this vital service through public donations with no funding available form the DoH.

      1. You comments are long winded and full facts yet they signify nothing –
        Go and do some real work and earn the salary THT pay you – instead of wasting fund raising on responding to comments in here –

        SERCO were awarded the funding because the case for continued DoH support was presented by managers who did not even know how the Helpline was run.

        You are a Disgrace to the Care Sector

        1. Your personal attacks are very dull & to be expected. I am not on the THT payroll, I give my time free of charge.

          Perhaps you would prefer Virgin Health Care to take over some of the work THT does on behalf of the DoH. As you seem to know a little about the Serco contract you will know that it was a consortium bid which involved other organisations as well as THT. My guess is that Serco can easily undercut cost through telephone infra-structure costs & at the same time use call centre staff to read from a script, shame on the DoH for choosing Serco.

          Having spent some time as a volunteer for THT Direct I know how valuable the service is & I was the first to be vocal about the planned changes. The reality is that we can all bitch as much as we like, but unless you make your voice heard then you cannot help shape or change things.

          I do my bit for the care sector as a volunteer – unlike people of your ilk that just sit in judgement! Fool

      2. Iwouldliketoknow? 30 Nov 2012, 8:29am

        @w6, I refer to “when the cost of treating one case of HIV as it stands at the moment is about £300 million for the lifetime of that individual.” and should read the cost of HIV treatment os around £484million per annum / 100,000 people = £4,840 x 25 years = £121,000 and not £300m for the indidual. (In accounting terms, once taxes are paid back to HM Treasury, the net sum is much less).

        1. Sorry my bad – the figure should be £300,000 which was the gross figure. My calculated cost is based on the monthly supply of Atripla being £650 which net of VAT is £542 / month. Annual cost £6500. Assuming that we know that the LE of a 20 yr old being diagnosed is 47yrs, but may not need treatment for 5 yrs; projected time on treatment is 42 yrs. Net cost of ARV’s is £273,000. We should also consider the cost of 3 clinic visits (Consultant time, blood tests) maybe £1200 a year, over a lifetime of 47 yrs = £56,400. Grand total = £329,400.

          Taking your annual figure of £484 million. If we assume 100,000 cases of which 75000 are diagnosed. Of these 85% are likely to be on treatment, therefore 63750 patients / year on treatment, therefore annual cost per patient = £6326. Total lifetime cost (42yrs) for ARV’s is £265,725. Add in the Consultant time & tests as above = £322125. Pretty similar figures really (even without the estimate for tests / consultant).

  12. “a record number of gay and bisexual men were diagnosed with HIV last year”

    Yes, and the Terrence Higgins Trust could have stopped many of them happening.

    But the Terrence Higgins Trust is a gravy-train, taking government millions to grant nice salaries to THT staff who do little more than cooperate with the profit-driven gay-sex industries, producing ads and videos that promote risky behaviour rather than curtail it.

    This news should shame all who constitute the staff of THT. After so many years of existence they should have produced quite the opposite result.

    Shame on all of you at THT.

    1. Well said – THT’s single most effective Frontline service is their Helpline which has been systematically reduced & overlooked the past two decades – No National Helpline adverts – and now precious little funding – reducing it from a large team of advisors and volunteers operating late into the evening and across all weekends – to an office hour service only – run by 3 staff members – Yet in years no THT Dept Head has lost their job – only those doing the work – The organisation which began with volunteers can’t recruit them anymore because it smells of Free Labour!

      Clearly the only truly effective way of educating everyone is by answering their concerns and risk scenarios person to person.

    2. Since when does the THT assist in putting condoms on people?
      People are the problem, don’t deflect the issue to someone else and take some responsibility.
      The gays causing this through unprotected sex are causing one hell of a massive epidemic for the rest of us

      1. Unlike you, Dickhead HIV Doesn’t discriminate!

        The Figure for Breeders with HIV is also going up – watch the news.

        1. Spanner1960 29 Nov 2012, 4:37pm

          It may not discriminate but it stands a lot better chance with people that can’t keep their dicks in their pants.

    3. Sounds like sour grapes to me DJ………was the redundancy package not big enough for you?

  13. The best way i can think of to sort this (since a portion of gays won’t wear condoms) is for anyone to unwittingly pass on HIV to someone else to be imprisoned for 2 years for every person they had sex with unprotected.
    It’s a deterrent from doing stupid things and a good motivation to get tested.

    At the end of the day the ones going from one bed to another without condoms are scum and they knowingly cause us all a lot of trouble, they cost the NHS a lot, and they’re responsible for a huge epidemic they could end at any time but won’t.
    It’s their fault we can’t donate blood too

    1. Scum indeed, but aren’t the people who go with them without protection a bit dumb? They bring everyone down with them.

      1. Yep, but there’s still myths circulating about tops being immune to this stuff last i heard.
        I would suggest better sex education might limit the future damage, but there’s clearly people here who have and intend to carry on having unprotected sex either way. This problem can’t be solved unless these selfish people in the community are exposed or imprisoned for purposely creating such an epidemic.

        1. With all due respect, why rely on myths for your information, there is plenty of good quality information about HIV on the net. Surely if you are confident in your own knowledge about HIV you can then clearly challenge incorrect information.

          Continuing to stigmatise people living with HIV and thinking that using the law is the answer really is not helpful to anyone. This will only continue to make others either not test it hide their status, neither of which is going to have an impact on reducing new infection rates.

    2. Jock S. Trap 30 Nov 2012, 2:09pm

      Tigra 07 – A dangerous thing imprisoning people without evidence. If people sleep around how do you know who got what from whom? It isn’t possible to get that kind of detail so innocent people would be jailed on hearsay and accusations.

      Plus some people used condoms that split, should that be jailed? Some people are raped, should they be jailed?

      Seriously does that make us any different from places like Uganda?

  14. vversatile 29 Nov 2012, 6:37pm

    A lot of the comments on this article are as bad and ill-informed as the ones I’d expect to find in the Daily Mail. Some of the people who are giving purely scientific answers are getting massive votes down. It makes me ashamed of my community.

    Is it any wonder that some gay men have huge problems telling people about their HIV status and that there is so much stigma involved.

    1. Agreed vversatile – it is such a shame that so many gay men wish to create a division between those of us who know we have HIV & those who think they do not have HIV (the supposedly HIV negative gay guys – the ones that never test regularly).

      Back in the day the gay community worked together to fight HIV – these days it seems stigma is perpetuated by “negative” gay men yet the very individuals who shout the loudest seen the most uneducated. If they spent time actually reading & learning about HIV then perhaps they would not be so fearful & quick to stigmatise people living with HIV.

      It is 2012 – not 1982 yet form the comments we see here we might as well be back in 1982 when the red tops whipped up mass hysteria about gay men & HIV. The only difference now is that gay men are whipping up the hysteria – shame on them, lets hope they never need to rely on organisations such as THT or need peer support should they ever get a shock diagnosis!

      1. Yes, they are getting angry precisely because it IS 2012 and not 1982; 30 YEARS have passed and people are still sleepwalking!

  15. Stop being promiscuous and you won’t get HIV. Simple as that. Learn some moral values.

    The problem with men who have sex with men is that you are highly promiscuous. Men have high sex drives. Two men together magnifies the sex drive.

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