The problem is that single gay men usually have sex at the weekend after a good night out getting thoroughly pissed. Sex but not safe sex takes place because guys are too drunk to put a condom on let alone stop and think about it.Gays are big binge drinkers as the gay bar & pub owners know very well.
I don’t find gay people to be bigger binge drinkers than straight people, so I find it hard to see the correlation between higher transmission rates of HIV amongst gay men and alcohol.
Because gay men tend to pick up a lot easier than straight ones, like duh!
Gendy, I’ve posted my agreement with you here already but it hasn’t shown. I don’t know why but another thread has shown that it’s impossible to post a comment here on PinkNews (and on World A|DS Day) if you include the word A|DS. (Notice that I have not used the capital ‘I’ but rather the vertical-line symbol to the left of the space-bar.)
Anyway, I agree with you. You’re right. It’s after a night of drink or after drugs that people let go of the safe-sex policy. Peter Tatchell should be demanding that the Terrence Higgins Trust stop cooperating with the gay-sex industries that encourage the drinking and the drug-taking in clubs, pubs, and saunas.
Ignore any negative ratings you get for your comment. When A|DS appeared in San Francisco, most of the city’s gay men were furious that the saunas were immediately closed down. They were more interested in partying than stopping the cause of A|DS.
PinkNews, please allow us to spell the word A|DS properly. It is World A|DS Day!
Peter, it’s not so much that the British Government’s strategy for HIV is failing men who have sex with men, but that the government is giving millions to a gravy-train that has FAILED men who have sex with men.
That gravy-train is, of course, the Terrence Higgins Trust. It receives millions to tackle the spread of HIV, but it spends those millions on providing nice salaries to a large staff and in creating sexy advertisements which cooperate with the gay-sex industries.
Take for example, that sexy full-page “health notice” showing two young guys fkuking in the woods. It wasn’t the strapline along the bottom about doing it safely that turned readers on!
Eddy as I have asked you twice in as many days do you really think £2.2million a year is sufficient funding to target both gay men & the African Community for an effective all England Campaign? I’m really not sure how far you think £2.2million goes these days. Let us also not forget that all this statuary funding is independently audited & the DoH should be monitoring the contract.
Who do you propose this money should go to – maybe Serco or Virgin Healthcare? Perhaps you think the DoH should be doing this work directly instead of contracting it out. THT et al were given the recent funding for HIV Prevention England as part of a tender process – if you are not happy with the outcome then put the DoH under the spotlight.
The Government do not have a strategy for HIV / Sexual Health in England so Peter is spot on. Ok I get that you dislike THT, but the real problem here is successive Governments have ignored Sexual Health for far too long. They need to invest to tackle HIV.
My point is that THT’s “work” has clearly failed gay men, that THT is not using the money effectively. A great deal of highly effective campaigning could have been done with all of the millions that THT has received to date. I have no personal gripe against anyone at THT: I have simply observed the nature of their “campaigns” year after year, while the HIV rate amongst gay men has failed to lessen, and I observe that THT goes along with gay-sex industries, adding a weak and distant strapline to all of their profit-driven activities. The result is that the gay-sex industries continue to make vast amounts out of gay men’s desire to party, and, as the infection figures show, the rates of infection have not fallen. If THT’s efforts were effective, those rates would be other than they are. Peter should take issue with THT’s approach.
“My point is that THT’s “work” has clearly failed gay men”
How can this assertion be proven? It really isn’t correct to directly link increased new infections with what THT & other charities do in relation to thier campaigns, and to think that is the case is just naive in my view. We all respond differently to the various forms in which information is presented to us.
There has for the last few yrs been a huge emphasis on increased testing rates & I believe there is evidence to suggest that this is now beginning to pay off. According to the HPA in 2010 there were 10,000 (25%) estimated undiagnosed infections amongst gay men – this figure has dropped for the first time in 2011 to an estimate of 8100 (20%) The cumulative number of diagnosed & undiagnosed infections has remained at roughly 40,000 in 2010 & 2011. This to me suggests that maybe we have turned a corner, only time will tell once we see a trend develop.
We are all adults at the end of the day, we make choices!
“How can this assertion be proven?”
THT has been active for 30 years. During that time it has received funding for countless campaigns. We have all seen those campaigns. And now we can all look back and see that those campaigns clearly haven’t worked well enough. Fact.
Perhaps if we look at HIV prevalence in the population against the US & some of our European neighbours, we can see that the UK has a reasonably low HIV prevalence in the population, of course this needs to be put in the context of prevention spending by each Government etc. I would wager that the UK Government looks at these figures and is not too concerned that the UK is managing to keep infection rates down.
@eddy, under http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/12/01/london-g-a-y-bar-today-attempts-world-record-for-total-number-of-hiv-tests/ , I posted a comment which refers to the joint incomes and spend from both EJAF and THT for the year ending 2011 of around £31million, a quick review of EJAF published figures, also shows a suplus of around £17million and if the said HM Government investment of £2.2million per annum is not enough then the 10 fold being further raised and spent adds to the argument why are numbers increasing on this amount of investment?
That said, the EJAF did award £1million (2010 or 11) to the Food Chain for a period of 3 years.
Thanks for interesting data. Re. your question “Why are numbers inreasing on this amount of investment?”, the answer is: inappropriate behaviour on the part of those being infected, and inappropriate prevention strategies on the part of those being paid and entrusted by the government to mount effective prevention strategies.
Sexual Health professionals have regularly stated that a great many infections occur when people are in highly sexually-charged environments and where they are often under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
So, we clearly have two strategies presented to us. Firstly,
diminish the highly sexually-charged environments (this means not supporting the profit-driven gay-sex industries); and, secondly, encourage gay men to beware of drink and drugs (which again means discouraging attendance at those industries which encourage the consumption of drink and drugs).
Eddy with all due respect what you are describing here are the same problems that are faced by all young people today, not just younger gay men. Alcohol, drugs & sex are a problem across the piste & I think you are being remarkably disingenuous towards gay men. I take it you did not see the Unsafe Sex in the City series recently shown on BBC3 – if you had you would realise that the problems you identify are not the reserve of just gay men, heterosexual men & women consistently engage in risky sex & have multiple partners as the program clearly depicted.
There is an epidemic of STI’s amongst all sexually active young people – what often is missed is the link between those STI’s & HIV. Infections such as syphilis & gonorrhea may well be treatable, but recent infections or reoccurring infections like these are the warning signs that many young people are engaging in risky sexual behaviours. Having another undiagnosed STI significantly increases the risk of HIV infection occurring.
W6, we are discussing this issue on PinkNews and with reference to gay men, and my concern is the demonstrated ineffectiveness of the HIV prevention campaigns of recent years.
Of course, I understand that much the same issues arise will arise in any discussion of HIV/A!DS in the straight community. And it is precisely because the two communities have similar issues, that I have suggested elsewhere that more effective HIV prevention strategies need not be avoided for fear of stigmatising the gay community.
Much more effective HIV prevention strategies are needed and those that are designed should be designed for and beamed at EVERYONE, regardless of their sexual orientation.
I did stumble upon an episode of Unsafe Sex in the City, by the way, and watched it with great interest all the way through. Like you, I hope, I was disappointed to see that many of the clients took the dangers of unsafe sex rather casually.
I am with you on your comments here – I have been saying for some time that the Government needs to invest in a National advertising / education campaign to get the message about HIV to the wider population. I would like to see more programs commissioned on the subject & well done to BBC3 for the Unsafe Sex in the City series shame it was only 4 episodes.
I wasn’t that surprised about the risks many of the people featured in the program were taking – it just confirmed to me that there is a lack of good quality education at school & then ongoing into adult life. We need to change the perception that HIV is not just a problem for gay men, but there are commentators here that do not agree with. I think constant targeting has resulted in a feeling of resentment & I am aware that there is now a feeling in the community that gay men are being over targeted & some feel it has reached the level of discrimination – they just switch off & do not engage no matter what the message is.
We are in a difficult period at the moment when it comes to HIV – it is no longer a death sentence but at the same time who really wants to be living with a chronic infection that cannot be cured at the moment. I guess my view differs to yours in that I firmly believe in personal responsibility, of course that requires knowledge to make the right decisions. Sadly many gay men don’t make good decisions, but I really do not understand why gay men in particular do not use the net & other resources to get clued up on HIV – after all HIV is highly concentrated in the community.
The point I am trying to make is that we are fallible, we make poor judgments, & it is human nature to take risks to varying degrees. I think the reason prevention methods are now moving towards a test & treat is because we have to accept that not everyone will consistently use condoms 100% of the time & use them correctly. Reducing the viral load within the gay community will reduce new infections over time.
I think you are being a little mischievous Kevin in quoting the EJAF figures. As you will be aware EJAF are not directly engaged in prevention work as such, but that of enhancing long term condition management of people living with HIV in the UK & making sure people with HIV have access to legal services & advice around benefits etc. Let us not pretend that EJAF are at all funded by the tax payer or that the total sum you quote of £31Million is all focused on HIV prevention initiatives, you know as well as I do that this is not the case.
You also know that THT in 2011 received around £15million in central Gov & Local Authority / PCT funding – around £5million of this is targeted at HIV prevention across the spectrum, be that gay men, African Community, asylum seekers, sex workers etc etc. You will also be aware that the most recent contract awarded to THT replaced the old CHAPS Partnerships. I am very sure that you are aware that not enough money is being spent on prevention measures!
W6, I find myself unable to give your comment, above, either a positive or a negative! :-)
You finish with “I am very sure that you are aware that not enough money is being spent on prevention measures!”
While I think most of us would agree with you on that, there are some of us who also believe that the prevention measures themselves seriously need looking at, not to mention the allegiances and attitudes of those who have been entrusted with devising the prevention measures.
Prevention messages or campaigns are always a difficult balancing act – all I can say is that if you like others believe that THT are not providing the campaigns you want to see then you need to be vocal at the level where you can influence these things. The latest prevention contract £2.2million for gay men & the African Community was awarded to THT by the DoH. I understand there was another consortium bid for the contract but it was awarded to THT.
If you & others really want to make a difference then you need to lobby your MP or the DoH directly; nothing ever gets changed by writing here on PN. Why not get involved with the community campaign 56 Dean Street are running – you can design your own campaign posters. This is a novel approach I believe & one to be supported, yet when the story about this was carried on PN it was again blasted because the particular campaign was about testing.
I am confused about what many readers here really want from HIV / Sexual Health services.
@W6 Picking up from the point of HIV services, BHIVA has just published its standard of care for people living with HIV, I refer http://www.bhiva.org/standards-of-care-2013.aspx , the one for children is in consultation. Given that women/child which we have not mentioned equates for about 40%, this representation also needs to be included.
Other options for people living with HIV, through thier clinic can become members of the Trust, join LSCG and local PPE groups, I refer to http://www.forum-link.org/
On the issue of prevention, these new item, I suggest help very much in the argument of support, involvement for other to learn from and engage if wanted.
Person wanting more information can refer to http://www.sigmaresearch.org.uk/hiv , one which includes a Framework for People Living with HIV and the Forum-Link HIV message board. The Bigger Picture, found at http://www.slhp.org.uk/
This is all a bit disingenuous, given the high proportion of gay men who wilfully seek out sex without a condom, even though they are perfectly aware of the risks. The issue won’t be solved until a cure or a vaccine is found, and no amount of pretence or wishful thinking will make it otherwise.
I refute your claim that a high proportion of gay men soberly and wilfully seek out unsafe sex, an act of determined self-destruction. Your remark is contemptuous of gay men.
The truth is that in highly sexual situations, and particularly those in which drink and drugs override inhibitions, pleasure overrides reason and the best intention and unsafe sex is performed. In the morning, in the sober light of day, there is regret, but then it is often too late. Such is the power of sexual desire and pleasure, particularly when bolstered by drink and/or drugs.
It is not contemptuous to point out a truth. Gay men have more agency than you allow. Gay men go on social networking sites (gaydar etc) and actively ask for bareback sex; they go to clubs & saunas to seek it out; they boast about the bare sex they have had. I don’t say this to be moralistic but rather to be realistic. I think it is attitudes like your own, which sees gay men as victims of drunken “mistakes” as the dishonest one. A lot of gay men do lower their inhibitions when drunk or drugged – but that is precisely why they take drink or drugs. They behave this way week after week. Now, face this or live in denial. Very few gay men don’t know the risks; very many are happy to take those risks and that is why we have record-high infections.
The short term answer is testing & treatment (which will reduce infections) but we have to face up to the fact that a significant proportion of gay men will never give up condom-free casual sex.
I believe a very small minority actively and determinedly seek out unsafe sex. I do not believe that a majority, or even a significant number, of gay men soberly and wilfully hunt out encounters which they know may well lead to the acquisition of HIV.
I wish I could agree with you Eddy, but I am more inclined to agree with Joe given what I see in online chat rooms all the time. There is an ever increasing trend relating to what I call “negative sero-sorting”. You see strap lines all the time on profiles “Clean & disease free u b 2″ or the other line “looking for bb with other -ve sex mates” What is this suggesting – certainly not about the daily showering habits of a potential sexual partner. Is this either the “worried well” being rather over thinking about risk or more probable, the so called -ve gay men wanting to engage in bareback sex? Given the new infection rates & the fact that we know 80% of new infections come from the 20% of undiagnosed gay men, it suggests that there is a small core of gay men whose behaviours are fueling new infections
As Joe says we need to live in the real world – it is human nature for people to take risks & actually procreation is embedded into the male DNA & there is a dislike for using condoms.
W6, and JoeSmoe, I agree with you that there are -ve gay men hoping that they will stay “clean and disease-free” by merely stating that they hope their partners are “clean and disease-free” too (“u b 2″), and that there are -ve gay men asking for “bb with other -ve sex mates”.
While those individuals are taking what they perceive to be a degree of care, they are of course being dangerously too trusting. I know you totally agree with that.
I believe that the incidence of +ve people (straight or gay) determinedly seeking bb penetration with -ve people (straight or gay) is small. We know it is happening because there have been cases before the courts and we’ve heard of incidences on the grapevine. It’s criminal behaviour. But I don’t believe intentional and malevolent infecting of others is widespread or common.
I wouldn’t say a “high proportion”, but the scenario does exist.
The very LAST thing gay and bisexual men need is billboards and newspaper adverts targetting THEM. We had enough of that stigmatism in the 80′s. All it served to do was fan the flames of homophobia- and in my opinion-created the environment in which Margaret Thatcher could get Clause 28 through parliamnent. I vividly remember my partner and myself walking through the small welsh village we were living in at the time-and past one of those posters-and a group of teenage lads shouting “Have you read that poster yet?”
Absolutely. However, infections in the straight community are a concern too, and those infections occur in much the same circumstances as those which occur in the gay community. So any of those “billboards and newspaper adverts” to which you refer need to target the general involvement (straight and gay) in the wild partying culture, that usually involves inflated use of alcohol and often drugs. The Terrence Higgins Trust, of course, is supposed to be significantly focussed on the problem amongst gay men, so that is why THT needs to stop cooperating with the money-hungry sex-industries that are only to happy for gay men to consume drink after drink, as well as drugs, and to start discouraging gay men from patronising such places.
More should be done also on highligting PEP http://www.pep.chapsonline.org.uk/pep_basics.htm or http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/1840.aspx?CategoryID=73&SubCategoryID=106
Please if we are going to have these news items can they also be balalnced by solutions other just point scoring?
I presume you are referring to the point Eddy makes “there is regret, but then it is often too late”.
PEP is important to promote & consider, but as has been witnessed on the comments pages opinion is very much divided. When THT & GMFA promote it the more conservative readers have a field day and suggest that it promotes unsafe sex, but there is very little evidence to support this claim. PEP is very well controlled, it certainly is not dished out like smarties or marketed like soap powder as some commentators have suggested. Anyone who has had an unsafe encounter are advised to seek treatment within 72hrs of the unsafe encounter – PEP is not guaranteed to work, but there is a high probability that it will prevent the infection taking hold.
Eddy is therefore incorrect to say that it is often too late to do anything about an unsafe encounter, the sooner help & advice is sought the better when it comes to PEP.
No, W6, Eddy would be absolutely correct to say that it is often too late to do anything about an unsafe encounter . . . because circumstances following an unsafe experience are complex and various. Try to imagine why it might possibly be “too late to do anything”. You’ll be amazed at how many things you come up with. Let me rattle off a few to get you started.
Long distance from nearest Sexual Health Clinic.
Hope that infection won’t really have occurred.
and so on.
People aren’t rational automatons who sit bolt upright the moment after they’ve had sex which has involved something unsafe and say “Right! Ta-ta! Must get myself straight off to the nearest A&E right now for some PEP!”
It’s not that simple.
I totally agree that people are not rational automatons, which has been my argument in terms of the risks people make when it comes to their sexual health. You seem to have been suggesting that if an unsafe encounter has occurred then it is not possible to change that situation, well that is how I read your comment.
If an individual was so concerned about their safety I believe they would take the opportunity to seek out help, no matter what the circumstances were.
I agree that the list you have provided are barriers to seeking out help & this is why we need to reduce the fear & stigma around HIV. Shame is probably the no 1 barrier to seeking help, why is this I have to ask? I believe it is down to the judgement that still exists within the gay community – we need to tackle this head on to reduce new infection rates!
although i do think PEP should be highlighted more, it worries me that, working in sexual health, i hear people say its like the morning after pill, so if they have unprotected sex there is nothing to worry about. People seem to have a mentality, that whatever risk they pt themselves in, its fine, because there is always someone there to pick up the pieces and make them better :/
Danny, sometimes I think, if the NHS and others, did a bit less of “you could get run over by a bus tomorrow thinking” and more “these are your options” might we find ourselves in a better place!
Kevin, I unfortunately gave your comment a positive tick, when I meant to give it a negative!
You do believe that prevention is better than cure, don’t you?
Taking PEP the “morning after” is to flood the body with a highly toxic drug. Yes, it may eliminate an HIV infection, but it should be absolutely the last resort. Far better for people to totally avoid unsafe sex and never to need to take PEP, don’t you think?
The problem is, like the standard morning after pill, people grow to rely on it as a “get out of jail free card” – The more options you give people, the less likely they are to take care of their own personal welfare.
If one were to say “Have sex without a condom and you could be dead in 12 months” that might have a more significant effect.
Lest we also forget that treatment with PEP, particularly if frequent (and there is evidence to suggest that many users are habitually attempting to manage unsafe sex), will weaken the efficacy of HIV meds should you acquire the virus at some point in the future.
PEP was only ever intended for exceptional cases such as condoms splitting and medical staff coming into contact with the virus:- never as part of a weekend planning pack for “weekend warriors”.
Of course we were warned this would occur from the American experience, but what we have invariably learned through the whole HIV crisis is where there’s a pharma lobbyist knocking on Westminster’s door, treatment will always be pushed above and beyond prevention.
Indeed it would appear that treatment is being pushed as the preeminent HIV prevention measure these days:- we’re now even being assured by the liberal medical intelligentsia that it’s more or less safe to have unprotected sex with a pos guy on treatment.
“…and there is evidence to suggest that many users are habitually attempting to manage unsafe sex”
I would like to see the evidence or reference point for this, given that it is very difficult to obtain PEP as the guidelines were changed in the UK last year. I am not sure it is correct to suggest that people are habitually using PEP to manage unsafe sex on a large scale. If they are using PEP in this way then surely they are fullt aware of the risks they are taking & it then becomes a matter of personal responsibility does it not?
It is interesting Samuel that you have in the past stated that the uptake of PEP in the UK was much lower than expected & THT staff have bemoaned this fact, yet you are suggesting the opposite here – just an observation not a criticism (well just a little bit I guess)! Consistency dear boy – I am like an elephant I never forget!
Well W6, several hospitals including St Mary’s in Paddington have gone on record as stating the prevalence of repeat users with multiple sex partnets requesting PEP above and beyond those requesting PEP for one off accidents.
The HIV sector has openly lamented the low uptake and lack of mass demand for PEP despite the incessant THT ads advocating its use for those planning unsafe sex:- effectively incentivising gay men to regard it as a morning after pill and therefore contravening the basis on which PEP was mandated for general use in the first place.
Maybe gay men are just not as stupid, gullible and naive as the HIV sector likes to believe and all their efforts to incentivise unsafe sex via HIV campaigns that glamorise condomless sex, their refusal to condemn bareback porn and their endless promotion of PEP as a gay man’s pill have come to nothing.
Maybe the time’s approaching when HIV rates tumble and most of them will suddenly be on the dole queue and out of harm’s way
I certainly have not read about these statements & lets face it I do spend a fair bit of time researching things like this, but perhaps you are one step ahead? Perhaps you can provide the reference point or study as I would be very interested to know which other Hospitals have undertaken such a detailed assessment.
I think you are over egging the pudding to be honest Samuel as your argument is confused – it would be a shame if you are once again reverting to your default position
Hi Danny. If you work in Sexual Health, your contributions to discussions like this are much needed. Please keep posting.
Bareback porn normalises unsafe sex. WhenI grew up all porn actors had condoms it’s was the norm to use them. These arsehole are making money out of infections and no one says a word. Don’t blame the government Peter
It is a pity, Peter, that in your mention of the funding cuts to GMFA, you didn’t point a bigger finger of blame in their direction and at their CHAPS partner THT.
Why don’t you ask them outright, for example, why they are now placing all emphasis on testing, even resorting to the kind of scare tactics they have always refused to use for genuine HIV prevention campaigns?
Since you have also clearly fallen for their hype in citing the “1 in 8 infected Londoners” stat, perhaps you’d also like to ask them how they arrive at this figure when GAY’s testing day stunt found just 1 in 100 of those tested to be positive?
And if you buy the bull that anyone who was scared of a pos result stayed away, doesn’t that only prove that the mass call to testing has been a compete charade and just doesn’t work, and that it’s time to get back to some hard-hitting HIV prevention basics that deter gay men from taking needless risks with their sexual health?
While I agree that the strategy is failing, we must all take responsibility for our own actions.
We all know the risks involved and yet many chose a game of Russian Roulette with their own lives.
Alcohol and drug use are no excuse.
When I was single, no matter how drunk I was, I always ensured that who I was having sex with was protected as much as I was also protecting myself.
You were unusual and fortunate in that you were apparently able to be both “drunk”, as you have said, and, at the same time, fully in control of your actions.
That is not usually the case, which is why for instance it is illegal to drive while drunk.
Don’t talk such utter crap.
One can still be in full control of one’s rational faculties even if you are incapable of safely driving a vehicle.
The point where you are so paralytic so as not to be aware of what you are doing is usually the point where most people do not want, (and are unable to have), sex because they can’t even stand up.
An yes, that old chestnut about “taking responsibility” and all that.
The point being, Mr McCabe, that how are gay teens and 20-somethings expected to take responsibility for something that they have not been properly educated about nor informed of the risks involved?
Isn’t that the very raisin d’être of the so-called HIV preventionists who are funded for that specific reason, but instead appear to have gone to extremes to do quite the opposite?
With the annual UK treatment bill now close to £1 billion, the pink elephant in the room nobody seems prepared to point out is that the preventionists’ agenda has failed gay men whilst boosting pharma profits at an astronomical rate.
No wonder the establishment came out in praise of the THT for its work on World A!DS day, having itself proven that it well and truly is a part of the same establishment.
Arise Sir Nick and Mathew Hodgson for services to Glaxo, Pfizer et al…
……………and there was I hoping you would resist using your pharma co theory Samuel, but I guess old habits die hard ;-)
You are of course entitled to hold this view but we will always differ on this one!
‘Information’ care off Terence Higgins Trust:
Scat: “Scat is sex involving playing with shit, maybe eating it, too. Smearing shit onto healthy unbroken skin poses relatively little health risk if the person the turds came from is free of infections” .
Fisting: “Fisting involves inserting a hand, sometimes forearm, into the rectum – occasionally going up as far as the lower colon… Fisting fans call it the ultimate sexual experience, giving intense feelings of trust and intimacy”
Felching: “Felching involves sucking (usually your own) semen out of someone else’s arse – with or without a straw”
Yeah the government give millions to groups like this who pander ‘health information’ to the LGBT ‘community’ .Gross indecency masquerading as ‘sex’ education – what next distorting marriage ?