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UK: Lack of condom use blamed for rising HIV cases in gay men

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  1. Why are THT trying to make these figures sound like a triumphant achievement when it shows condom use in gay men has gone down and infection figures have gone up?

    1. It’s called spin, Paul:- something the media-trained luvvies who control the THT with an iron grip are quite adept at.

      It also explains how they have got away for years with pulling the wool over our eyes and deceiving us as to their so-called “achievements” where HIV prevention is concerned.

      What they won’t be so quick to trill about is the fact that their CHAPS partner, Sigma Research, was severely rebuked and reprimanded and its funding for the annual Gay Men’s Sex Surey withdrawn when it was found to be colluding with THT to misrepresent and skew the survey’s findings in THT’s favour:- to spin the truth inside out to effectively turn its blatant failures into something resembling success, thereby enabling THT to continue securing HIV prevention while compromising and endangering the health and well being of gay men – in London particularly – in the process.

      Treacherous doesn’t even begin to describe the lies THT has spun to get away with what it has for so long.

      1. including their refusal to endorse home testing for a decade – until funding got tight and a pvt company convinced them to push their kits – Now it’s all Ok to test at home – pathetic betrayal. Shut them down – spend the funding on the people who need it

        1. Jock S. Trap 16 Feb 2013, 3:50pm

          THT aren’t only their for awareness they help many people who live with HIV. I myself had excellent help from them when I needed it and had nowhere else to turn.

          To ‘shut them down’ removes for many a voice for people living with HIV when there aren’t many other around. They profit many services that you can’t get and in some cases can’t get without discrimination.

          1. Jock S. Trap 16 Feb 2013, 3:51pm

            sorry meant provide many services…

          2. Totally agree Jock – I was very well supported by THT when first diagnosed & having also volunteered for them in the past I am very aware of the important work that they do for people living with HIV. Some say THT have failed on prevention; I am not convinced particularly in light of reading the full PLOS report.

            The full report actually confirms that recent campaigns to increase testing are important at keeping new infection rates down; if testing was at the same level in 2000 as it was in 2010 new infections would be 25% less than they currently are (meaning 750 less in 2011).

            If everyone was put on treatment upon diagnosis since 2000 (irrespective of CD4 count) then this would achieve a 32% reduction in new infections (meaning 960 for 2011). Whilst I am not convinced about test & treat. the epidemiology of this method is very compelling & one, that is likely to feature more in the future if local Authorities take the easy option & fail to invest in behavior change policies.

          3. Jock, I don’t think anyone is for one moment suggesting that THT should be closed down as it provides an extremely vital role & network for positive men such as yourself.

            What’s clearly not working is the clear conflicts of interest inherent in the most dominant supplier of HIV services in Europe which receives most of its funding from government & with direct links with the pharmaceutical industry also being awarded the bulk of the HIV prevention budget which it continues to misappropriate & squander on dubious initiatives time & again.

            There can’t be anyone, surely, who sees the value in THT being tasked to prevent the spread of HIV when it’s squarely & consistently failed to curb transmission rates for over 20 years?

            Were it a private company it would’ve had its remit revoked long ago & might also have been sued for wilful negligence several times over by now.

            The definition of insanity:- doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time.

          4. “I am not convinced particularly in light of reading the full PLOS report. The full report actually confirms that recent campaigns to increase testing are important at keeping new infection rates down…”

            Even if the report is to be fully believed, W6, the fact of the matter is the mass call to testing and focus on HIV campaigns that reinforce the inevitability of contracting HIV – such as “THINK HIV” and “Update Your Status” – are inherently flawed and will, in the absence of any campaigns that might actually impact on us to use condoms, could in fact be encouraging us into having risky sex.

            The call to testing is a one-size-fits all mantra which overlooks several key facts:-

            Firstly, it considers that all gay men are big city scene-goers who can’t go without their animalistic fix of bareback sex and who spend their lives of Grindr.

            Actually, gay men encompass a far more expansive one than the subgroup of scene-going guys always on the lookout for sex, and what’s more they…

          5. always take precautions.

            In short, crass messages like “Update Your Status” mean nothing to them because they have nothing to update, yet the likes of THT demand that ALL gay men be tested regularly.

            And you wonder why this initiative is failing while young gays in need of proper HIV awareness campaigns are barebacking in ignorance?

            You are now propagating the myth that HIV can be caught easily by having oral sex:- which confounds everything we have so far been told about how difficult it is to contract HIV, and that you could have unsafe anal sex on many occasions and not contract it.

            In short, you would have to be extremely unlucky:- even a friend of mine who maintained he contracted HIV that way now admits he slipped up using condoms on several occasions.

            It would appear to be new HIV sector policy that wants gay men to now think HIV is highly infectious in order to drive us all into testing clinics when other initiatives have clearly failed:- next you’ll be telling us HIV…

          6. can be caught from loo seats!

            The fact of the matter is that had HIV campaigns not veered away from stressing the need to always wear condoms, we would not be in the position we now find ourselves.

            Instead, one-size-fits-all ads started appearing in mainstream gay mags specifically aimed at those who do bareback, and which persuaded many scene-going men who had always previously played safe to practice the withdrawal method and to “cum outside” and to do it “like a porn star”, and so on and so on up to which then taught them how much fun pathogen-fuelling activities like sc*t and other degrading forms of sex can be.

            Yes, there will always be a core group of gay men in bigger cities sucked into a reckless, drug-fueled world from which they can’t seem to escape, but THT has done its best to popularise the underground sex scene:- it is no coincidence that Hardcell precipitated the rise in bareback sex clubs to the point where, today, extreme sex clubs, hard sex…

          7. parties and sauna sex nights now outnumber mainstream club nights.

            THT’s popularisation of the hard sex scene has also given rise to private sex parties, in which many of the same guys who were fresh-faced party goers back in the day – when London could boast of being one of the best gay cub capitals in the world – are now killing themselves off slowly with GHB overdoses while injecting themselves with crystal meth, methadrone and one anothers’ blood when the drugs start running low just to stay high!

            Yet despite this tragedy – and the disproportionate emphasis that the London-centric HIV sector places on the dubious statistic “1 in 7 gay men on the London scene has HIV” because it thinks that ALL gay men F*ck like rabbits without condoms – most gay men do NOT inhabit that scene and do not relate to the constant demands to test.

            Yet in the absence of any effective condom campaigns, the irony – and danger – is that the HIV sector is stealthily fueling the need to test by default.

          8. Samuel you can bait me all you like with your broken records – you are wasting your time. I and all the other PN readers know your dislike for THT, most of us can recite what is coming next. If you would like to bring anything new & current to the debate, then please do, otherwise your usual protestations will once again close down this thread (history tells us that this is what happens) & quite frankly I am very bored of going over the same old ground with you – I’ve been doing it for 3 yrs & I can honestly say I am very bored of you & your views.

          9. Open your eyes, W6, it is only you and your many aliases who constantly sing THT’s praises on here:- everyone else sees through the smoke and mirrors now.

            Red arrow away all you like:- it is your only recourse when the truth is so self-evident you are unable to respond.

            I will take your inability to respond as a compliment, as you must know the argument is lost and that gay men will not just idly sit back and be sleepwalked into a future of testing and treatment disguised as HIV prevention:- one which appears perversely designed to ensure that all gay men are medicated regardless of status:- certainly if your absurd arguments and constant citing and singing up of highly dubious statistics and study data are concerned.

            One thing you have never fully disclosed to these boards is your motivation for clinging to a mode of belief that is clearly linked to a self-interest that is clearly agenda-driven in that it relentlessly pushes and advocates treatments as the answer to all our ills…

          10. Sister Mary Clarence 18 Feb 2013, 4:32am

            I have to say I’m with you W6. THT have grown very fat off the back of the HIV health crisis. They have gone from one of many organisations providing a diverse array of services to virtually the only player in the market by hoovering up almost all funding in the sector.

            Yes, they might do some good work, and I’m glad people have come forward to say they have benefited from THT’s services. The really big BUT though is that they have failed abysmally to cut the rates of new infections.

            Making people understand the risks and educating them about the disease will reduce infection rates – telling them they can live a normal life if they do get infected isn’t actually a deterrent, and further, it isn’t true.

            I think some of those living ‘normally’ with HIV can sometimes forget what life was like before they had to adapt, compromise, and make all the little changes to their lives that their status and their meds require.

          11. Jock, the reason there are not many other service providers around is because THT swallowed many of the long established once up in order to become the dominant services provider, removing choice for positive people and in many cases asset stripping core services to provide a pale version of what they had previously received.

            Do you seriously consider this to be a good deal?

            For THT, no doubt, as it enabled them to become the largest HIV services provider in Europe and receive £25 million a year in funding, and own a portfolio of prestige properties across prime central London for “investment” purposes while presiding over record HIV transmission rates.

            You might be alright, Jack, I mean Jock, but trust me, many other positive people as a result are most certainly not.

          12. Jock S. Trap 18 Feb 2013, 9:32am

            Samuel B

            I’d like to correct you there with the facts.

            Most HIV support group fail because they struggle to get funding. Too many of the public think that people with HIV deserve what they get. An appalling result of lack of education and discrimination.

            It’s why groups tend to advertise for funds using children with HIV because people give to that cause.

            The truth is most people don’t ask to get HIV. I myself was given it via rape other for various other reasons but most people don’t ask for HIV.

            Your arguments could be the same for people that smoke, drink, do drugs….. people know the risks but they still do it. The only difference is education is far better when it comes to smoking, drinking and drugs. HIV is not.

            I have been shocked at the level of ignorance, particularly in the young who think it is an older person disease. Who think HIV is curable. This is due to lack of education in school, mostly because it is considered a Gay disease still…

          13. Jock S. Trap 18 Feb 2013, 9:39am

            It is not, it affects everyone and just like all SDI’s it should be taught so. The only reason some teachers won’t talk about it is because of how they feel about gay people and that cannot be good for anyone. They are their to teach after all. You only have to look at the christian extremists views on teaching children about same sex couple being married to see where the problem arises.

            I also, don’t know if anyone else feels the same, was disturbed at a recent Cancer Research ad that along with other diseases HIV was being beaten by research. Lets not forget some cancers are beaten, not all granted but it’s not HIV that is being beaten but AIDS in this country. It suggested that HIV was curable when it isn’t. I do hate the thought that the already uneducated youngsters will see this kind of advertising as a message when it is false and irresponsible advertising.

            My point, THT are doing better because they have been able to survive but they themselves have had problems..

          14. Jock S. Trap 18 Feb 2013, 9:44am

            … THT are vital, they need to survive but even you must see that without such group the numbers of people with HIV would be massively higher than they are now. This in itself suggests they are very much needed and important.

            I do think that getting the message across needs to be done in a range of different ways, different approaches to different people but with the same message.

            Unless we have that and a better, non-discrimination education policy on HIV and indeed on STI’s then we sadly will not see things improve.

            You cannot tell some people what to do but you can teach and advise them to not change their habits and do them slightly differently and fundamentally in the end, much safer to the person and those around them.

          15. Sister Mary Clarence 18 Feb 2013, 11:06am

            Actually Jock, quite a number of organisations have lost their funding and the provision of service has been transferred to THT.

            There has been a more away from smaller contracts to larger ones and THT, with the help of some strong funding applications have been able to outbid its rivals.

            That would be all well and good if the service at the end of it was better, but the statistics show that it is not working.

            One of the advantages of a wider array of service providers it is that it enables more variation and variety in the delivery of services. As it is, we have only the failing THT way as it stands.

        2. Jock S. Trap 18 Feb 2013, 12:26pm

          I can agree with that Sister Mary, it does add the fact that more groups would actually be more beneficial rather than less larger ones that have to focus on a larger services user numbers. Sometimes smaller can give more time than larger.

  2. Isn’t it obvious that failure to use condoms has caused the rise in the number of cases of HIV infection in gay men?

    What else could have caused the rise?

    Obviously, there need to be more effective campaigns. TV and radio adverts. Billboard ads. Posters on buses. A ban on the promotion or depiction of “barebacking”. Info so that people who find it hard to imagine the consequences of their actions, have it all spelt out to them graphically with no sugar-coating.

    I lost several friends to AIDS. In the 70s and early 80s, no-one knew condoms could stop HIV infection. There is no longer any excuse.

    1. The rise in diagnosis comes from more and more people (not just gays by the way- unlike this country HIV doesn’t discriminate) testing –

      1. JD

        Sure: HIV can infect anyone. But it does discriminate in the UK. It is much more likely to infect a “receiving” partner than an “active” partner, whether they be gay or hetero. That means a heterosexual woman is much more likely to be infected by an HIV+ man, than vice versa, and the same applies to a man “receiving” penetrative sex.

        And in our country, HIV does currently discriminate. It is far more prevalent among gay men than it is among heterosexual men, gay women, or heterosexual women.

        How do you know that the increased infection statistics come from increased testing? Don’t you think that the Govt/THT statisticians would have removed that variable before coming to their conclusions?

        1. If you compare the HPA undiagnosed rate between 2010 & 2011 you will see that roughly undiagnosed HIV was 10,000 (approx) in 2010, in 2011 is was 8,000 (approx). The overall estimate for both diagnosed & undiagnosed for the years 2010 /2011 remained constant at about 40,000 – so I believe JD is quite right to suggest increased testing has had an effect on new diagnosis.

          Having spoken to Valerie Delpech from the HPA, about this very subject, the current data confidence is not such that we can say that we will see a further reduction in the undiagnosed fraction but total infection rates staying constant at around 40,000, but time will tell. The lower the undiagnosed fraction the less forward transmission there will be.

          We need to see further testing increase to a level that will start to impact on the overall incidence of HIV. In 2010 there were 59,000 HIV tests amongst MSM, this is still too low given the prevalence of HIV amongst MSM. (M/F Heterosexual HIV tests – 891,000 for 2010)

          1. W6_bloke

            THT are of great value in supporting worried people, providing info about safer sex, and supporting those diagnosed with HIV.

            I am not convinced that the emphasis on testing is by any means the most effective way of reducing HIV transmission rates, however.

            If someone has never tested for HIV, and doesn’t want to, then they should act when having sex as though they are HIV+.

            If they have tested, and are HIV+, then they should have safer sex, and let any prospective partners know their HIV status.

            If they have tested, and are HIV-, then they should have safer sex to make sure they remain so.

            I do not see the reason for having repeat tests. If someone has tested HIV-, they shouldn’t need another test if they keep having safer sex, unless they start getting anxious because of a body fluid hitting a skin blemish etc.

            To prevent HIV infection, unsafe sex needs to become as stigmatised and disapproved of as drunk driving.

          2. You are entitled to your opinion on testing, but your view is not supported by the data provided in this & many other studies across the world.

            Condom use, testing & treatment as prevention all have a role to play in controlling population viral load & given that there will always be a degree of unprotected sex, all three interventions should form the basis of a good prevention initiative.

            Behavioural change must be targeted at the most at risk of not using condoms consistently; this can be very expensive & it is often difficult to recruit at risk individuals for intensive counselling, cognitive behavioural training required to ensure consistent condom use becomes the norm.

            We do not live in an ideal world where condom use will be consistently used by everyone, it is naive to think this would be the case.

            How would you suggest we arrive at your blue sky thinking model of HIV prevention?

          3. W6_Bloke

            My suggestion would be to focus on publicity in the mainstream media. TV and radio public information adverts, posters, billboards, bus adverts. And adverts that do not pull punches, and that make it clear what the consequences are of getting infected. When I go to Germany, I see plenty of adverts. Anyone would think that HIV hadn’t crossed to our island.

            Over the course of the last 30 years, I have seen HIV infection being regarded with an increasingly casual attitude by sections of the gay community. Perhaps this has something to do with the effectiveness of medication these days. But I do not think this casual attitude is a good thing. Unsafe sex, and putting oneself and/or others at risk, needs to become a taboo. The softly-softly approach does not seem to be working, if this article is to be believed. It is time to do what should have been done decades ago.

          4. I would love to see a joined up National HIV awareness campaign using mainstream media as you describe – I am on record here on PN as advocating such an approach.

            The Government must fund such a campaign, yet when I have suggested more money is required for HIV prevention I am usually shouted down.

            I am not sure how far £2.45 million per year, over 3 years would go using mass media – this is how much the Government have invested in an England wide 3 year campaign (£8.5million in total, the majority £7.35 million going to HIV Prevention England consortium which includes THT).

            I would wager that a 30 second prime time TV add would cost at least £250,000 to air on ITV etc. Despite advertising revenues being in the doldrums these sorts of ads are out if reach for organisations such as THT.

            The Government have to spend £200,000 for the lifetime cost of ARV’s currently / person with HIV, we need proper investment.

            What does “pulls no punches approach” look like in your view?

          5. W6_Bloke

            I think that my experience of terror in the 1980s at seeing people around me falling ill with HIV has coloured my thinking about HIV today. As you point out, the picture now is a very different one, thankfully, and people are likely to live long and healthy lives.

            I think awareness campaigns should focus as a deterrent on the inconveniences associated with HIV infection: regular check-ups at hospitals, daily medication regimes later on, not being able to donate blood, having to disclose HIV status in early stages of a relationship. Also I think people should be encouraged to be aware of how lifetime HIV treatment can cost over £100,000. (That’s just based on some Internet research: I am going to try to find out a more accurate average figure.) If people know they can save the NHS this kind of money by wearing condoms and having safer sex, one would hope some would allow it to influence their behaviour.

          6. “Behavioural change must be targeted at the most at risk of not using condoms consistently…”

            The problem with this approach, W6, is that it zooms in on the minority of gay men who are routinely barebacking while ignoring the constant need to transmit a “condoms always” message to the vast majority who always practise safe sex.

            Again it brings us around to the “London-centric” bias of the HIV sector:- it is itself London-based, therefore if fuels its own perception of the sex lives of ALL gay men the length and width of the UK through the same eyes, which is clearly wrong.

            The one survey that could have proven useful in identifying actual sexual trends among all gay men was the annual Gay Men’s Sex Survey – until Sigma Research was found to be distorting and misrepresenting its own findings in THT’s favour.

            THT’s “prevention” work is irrelevant to the vast majority of gay men because it is essentially addressing the sub-group of sexually reckless gay men, mostly concentrated…

          7. in London, but with a one-size-fits-all wagging finger that dictates that “ALL gay men are at risk and must get their status updated regularly”.

            That’s why a recent report here on PN revealed that despite all recent emphasis being placed on imploring gay men to test instead of “condoms always”, very few in fact are heeding the call.

            Something is clearly wrong here:- the HIV sector is disappearing up a cul de sac with its mission-like zeal to implore us to test while ignoring the fundamental core message of HIV prevention:- to always use condoms.

            It is this reason that, in the complete absence of such a message – regardless of its perceived effectiveness, which is another matter – the sector currently poses a real threat to the very health and well being of those gay men it should be reinforcing this message to.

            Any wonder that many 20-somethings can no longer distinguish the inherent risks of HIV from other STIs when the likes of THT treat HIV prevention with such scant disregard?

          8. “We don’t live in an ideal world where condom use will be consistently used by everyone, it is naive to think this would be the case.”

            There was a time, W6, when condom use was considered de rigueur by gay men.

            It was the HIV sector itself that created a false dawn with the advent of antivirals and began transmitting irresponsible messages about their effectiveness while simultaneously deciding that messages aimed at those who were, as a result, starting to bareback, should be aimed at ALL gay men in mainstream magazines.

            Thus gay men weaned on a non-negotiable “condoms always” message began seeing ads instructing them to “pull out and cum over his back”.

            Before too long it was being dictated that all prevention campaigns had to take into account that some gay men f*cked without condoms and targeted accordingly.

            The blurring of the original “condom always” message to today’s messages such as “Update Your Status” is a mass betrayal of the trust we placed in them to guide us safely.

          9. Gazza – I agree with what you say about awareness campaigns, I think it is really difficult to get the correct deterrent message that will engage MSM in a meaningful way, without lying to them & at the same time making sure they take care of their sexual health.

            We have seen a huge change in the way cancer was perceived; my Grandmother could hardly bring herself to say the word because it was so feared & in those days survival rates were very low. Fast forward to today & cancer is talked about all the time, people are not as afraid of it as they were & as a result more people get checked out, cancer survival rates are much better & as a society we are much more open about cancer.

            If we can get the same level of change around HIV then in my view we will see much better outcomes & new infections will over time substantially decrease. People are only scared of the unknown & take great comfort from hanging onto myths & outdated information in the hope this will somehow protect them!

          10. W6, is it not a little disingenuous of you not to empathise, or at least identify, with the terror Gazza recalls having himself been a sexually active gay man in the 1980s?

            After all, are you yourself not of a certain age that clearly remembers the tombstone ad and all the fear around the uncertainties and unknowns incumbent with an HTLV-3 diagnosis?

    2. Well said. I am tired of bigots being given easy ammunition, because some people prefer bareback. Only yesterday on usenet there was the usual haters post referring to this news of the latest HIV figures. It began “Disease riddled fags”

      1. Ray123

        It is appalling for anyone to use such a disgusting term of abuse.

        But I don’t think that the real concerns about “barebacking” and the longer-term harm and suffering this short-term pleasure causes, should be suppressed because homophobes will use the information for ammunition.

        It is those who are having unsafe sex who are providing ammunition for homophobes, not those who are exposing the problem in the hope of getting people to have sex responsibly.

        1. I agree with all you say, including your comment about the message header. It pains me that some are handing the haters an open goal.

          1. Ray123

            I’m not sure you have completely understood my post. I do think that the statistics need to be exposed, and people strongly discouraged from unsafe sex, even if homophobes will try to exploit the information.

        2. The last thing that should happen is for this information to be suppressed. Has anyone suggested that? Suppression would only worsen the situation.

    3. “Isn’t it obvious that failure to use condoms has caused the rise in the number of cases of HIV infection in gay men? ”

      This is only the case if you take a very simplistic view of the epidemic,which is what the headline is suggesting. On closer inspection this report is highlighting the future direction of travel for HIV prevention initiatives I believe, one that acknowledges the importance of consistent condom use but also implies that condom use will never be universally consistent amongst MSM & therefore prevention must be correctly targeted to achieve value for money.

      Telling MSM to use condoms consistently is never going to have the impact needed on HIV incidence, as there will always be a small % of MSM who will not use condoms. Whilst the condom message is important this must be linked to behavioral change which needs to be very intensive & may not offer value for money at this moment in time. Like it or not treatment as prevention is here to stay as it is cost effective.

  3. Hysterical Screamer No. 243 16 Feb 2013, 12:35pm

    Yes, extraordinary to hear Partridge pronouncing on this when his organization has done little more than occasionally setting up stalls in the corners of countless nightclubs encouraging gay men into full-on self-indulgence fuelled by drink and drugs.

    1. don’t forget a decade of pointless ad campaigns about sponges and buses and mind the gap – utter bollox – shut ’em down!

    2. Indeed.

      What gets me is THT’s faux concern at the epidemic of hep C doing the rounds, particularly with regard to its potentially debilitating effect in people who are already HIV positive.

      Yet who was it that poured thousands of HIV “prevention” funds into a resource that initiates gay men into many of the extreme sexual behaviours that give hep C such easy passage?

      And who is it that defends the rights of pos men to f@&k raw with multiple partners in sex dens wherein hep C can be transmitted among untold numbers of men?

      You guessed it.

      THT has become the purveyor of encouraging the very conditions and behaviours that have given rise to the diseases it is being funded millions to prevent.

      The world is truly insane.

      1. “A resource that initiates gay men into…extreme sexual behaviours”
        So they wouldn’t be doing such things if Hardcell didn’t exist then? Complete and utter piffle. I remember Hardcell was one of the few GENUINELY informative sex education websites when I was a bit younger. This is the same argument used to justify the deadly “just say no” approach to drugs education.

        “…defends the rights of pos men to f@&k raw with multiple partners in sex dens”
        Could you point out where on their website they say this?
        Such silly and unsubstantiated criticism of THT after they dared to say something as innocent as ‘condoms are good’ seems truly insane to me.

  4. They needed research to answer this question?

  5. The thing is though, I would put money on it that the majority of infections are due to someone making a silly mistake rather than not using condoms all the time.

    Im sure that we are all guilty of making that mistake. Its just some people pay the ultimate price.

    1. “Im sure that we are all guilty of making that mistake.”

      I don’t agree. I think that plenty of gay men realise that one “mistake” will mean a life of HIV infection, with all that entails with respect to future medication requirements, illness, side-effects, and the effect it will have on future relationships. It can be hard enough to find a compatible life partner, without adding the complication of HIV+ status disclosure into the mix.

      It’s more than a “silly mistake”. It is a completely senseless and irresponsible one, that will have an impact on the person himself, and on the NHS that will be called on to finance his medical care.

      What you have expressed trivialises the significance of needless HIV infection, and I think it is this mindset of trivialisation that is fuelling the risk-taking.

      1. Spanner1960 16 Feb 2013, 1:40pm

        It’s surprising how much common sense goes out the window when you have raging hormones, a head full of booze and/or drugs and a horny bloke next to you. It’s not an excuse, just an observation.

        1. Spanner1960

          I am sure that what you describe is the case.

          Your post has given me a couple more thoughts, which I’ll post in the main thread.

        2. GingerlyColors 17 Feb 2013, 9:11am

          Take off the beer goggles and put on a condom.

      2. I’m not the James above, but another. I agree with you Gazza that the ‘silly mistakes’ James refers to can result in needless HIV infection, impacting on the individual and the NHS, however I don’t think he is trivialising the issue by suggesting that many HIV infections are due to people making those mistakes.

        The truth is that there are plenty of people who enjoy sex unprotected sex more or can’t enjoy sex with condoms. They are aware of the possible consequences of risk-taking. Some will normally practice safe-sex, but their preference of sex without a condom can and does override their awareness of the possible consequences, hence they have ‘silly mistakes’. There are others who, despite realising the possible consequences of unprotected sex, are prepared to take the risk, deliberately choosing to be unprotected and putting future partners at risk as a result.

        Cont’d. >

        1. We can condemn them, yes, but like those who take drugs despite being aware of the possible consequences, condemnation doesn’t stop them. It can have the opposite effect of what the warnings are intended to do, as they tune out to the message given. Therefore, surely it is not trivial for us to understand why the information about the consequences of risk-taking is not getting through to some people by addressing the issue of why some enjoy unprotected sex more and why some can’t enjoy sex with condoms.

          1. You have misrepresented me a bit, there, James. I was quite specific with regard to what I was referring to as “trivialisation”.

            I referred to the “mindset of trivialisation.” I believe that when (the other) James posted, “I’m sure that we are all guilty of making that mistake,” it fed this mindset of “everyone else does it sometimes, so it must be normal, so why shouldn’t I?”

            If the softly-softly approach worked, then the Government would not be putting shocking images on cigarette packets after all this time.

            Some people have to live completely celibate lives, whether because of disability, or because of other misfortune. Expecting a man to insist on condoms for casual sex, until he commits to a monogamous relationship with one person, pales into insignificance in comparison.

            I hate to see people ruining their lives by their choices. But it affects not only them, but their loved ones, and the resources of the NHS too.

        2. “They are aware of the possible consequences of risk-taking.”

          But are they, James?

          What ARE the real consequences of risk-taking, then?

          If you know what they are then you would not have learned it from any HIV campaign that has ever been published here in the UK.

          And so that brings me back to your point about people (supposedly) being aware of the consequences of risk-taking.


          By and large a significant proportion of gay men today are NOT aware of what the real consequences are, so many gay men are in fact taking those risks IN IGNORANCE.

          Big difference!

        3. Hi guys,

          The James who posted the original comment here. My point was what spanner has said. In the moment a person just might not use one. Its baffling in theory I know but I personally made that mistake once which is so out of character as I am sooo careful usually. I got PEP and everything and Il never forget those 3months. I was lucky because I didnt catch anything.

          I havent trivilised anything. I am shit scared of HIV and I am always convinced I have it even if I just wank someone off even though its highly unlikely that I have caught. Im really bad. Even with all that I had a lapse in common sense. Im not irresponsible sexually at all Im very careful.

    2. There are many people who get a shock diagnosis – only today I read a story of a someone who was diagnosed last week, the individual was not promiscuous, used condoms consistently yet has HIV. Similarly I read about a guy who had been notified via partner tracing of potential infection from his local clinic; condom failure has been suggested, that he failed to spot. It is all too easy to make assumptions about how people get HIV & often perceptions about promiscuity, drugs & alcohol use can be very wrong – they certainly were in my case.

      I have knowledge of many people across the UK who consider that they were being extremely careful, but have ended up with an HIV diagnosis. Yes sex without condoms is a very effective method of transmission, but we should not forget condom failures that go unnoticed, oral sex & other undiagnosed STI’s making transmission so much easier. Unknown circumstances can conspire & result in HIV being passed on.

      1. W6_Bloke

        I am sure many people are just unlucky – condom breakage, etc. I think it is also the case that some people get infected because their partner, who they thought was faithful and who tested HIV negative at the beginning of the relationship, has secretly been having unsafe sex with others, and has brought it back into the relationship. Call me cynical, but my view is that it’s a good idea to keep using condoms in “committed” relationships. It seems like quite a hygienic thing to do in any case.

        As for the shock diagnoses, I think that some people are getting infected as a result of oral sex. The THT has always played the risk of oral sex down in my opinion, though I have read some articles that indicate there are cases of oral transmission. It is not as safe as people think. Even if the risk is something like 1/10,000 (plucked out of the air), there are enough gay men in the UK, and enough sexual acts going on, for quite a number of people to be infected via that route.

        1. I have debated the increased risks associated with oral sex here on PN – but as I note in this very thread one of the most outspoken & sadly ill-informed commentators, claims that I am scaremongering when I suggest that in given circumstances oral sex can be quite high risk. The problem with oral sex is the validity of the data available – most MSM are likely to engage in both oral & anal sex so it is really difficult to obtain high quality data that enables us to pick up the level of infections just from oral sex.

          I know on US HIV forums that the notion of having contracted HIV via oral sex is completely discredited, in the UK I read many accounts where the individual concerned took all the necessary precautions, always used condoms, yet unfortunately received a shock HIV diagnosis. The bleeding gums scenario is a bit of a red herring in my view, if there is a low level throat infection, inflammation in the gum line, an undiagnosed STI such as chlamydia then the risk is much higher

          1. I have never been asked to use a condom for oral sex in all the time I have been sexually active. Condom failures can go unnoticed, many people forget that pre-cum can contain HIV & there will always be the odd slip up in terms of consistent condom use – we are only human after all!

            This to me is why regular testing is so very important & I agree that for some the “monogamous” relationship is not always the case for both partners – if gay men are going to have condom-less sex then they must test every 3 to 4 months – this has to be the trade off

            I am not in the game of being directional about how people conduct their sex lives – that has to be their choice, but the advice I would give is that if you make a choice not to use condoms then you have to be responsible & get tested regularly & be upfront with their prospective sexual partners. As +ve partners there is an expectation to disclose even if we do play safe! The same needs to happen with those who don’t rubber up consistently

          2. Sister Mary Clarence 18 Feb 2013, 5:24am

            Personally I’d rather put my trust in the experts. I’m a bit wary of going with alternative theories just because you’re got a feeling in your water.

            Frankly I don’t think that’s very scientific.

          3. Sister Mary Clarence 18 Feb 2013, 7:01pm

            apologies … ‘you’ve got ….’

        2. Spanner1960 17 Feb 2013, 4:15pm

          That’s why it is always referred to as safer sex, not safe.
          There is always going to be an inherent, calculated risk having any kind of sex that involves physical bodily contact – that is just the way it is. The only way of assuring you don’t get infected is not to touch each other.

          The point of it all is to minimise the possibilities so that people can have fulfilling sex lives without feeling totally paranoid.

  6. I think the problem is that ‘scene’ culture is almost all-encompassing. If you’re homosexual it is assumed by advertisers, sponsors and those charged with raising awareness that you’re part of the gay scene. That you swoon over Divas, have every Liza Minnelli LP, are into heavy beat dance music and have nothing better to do other than stare of pictures of easten european blond 18 year olds modeling underwear. If you’re not like that – you’re ignored. I read newspapers and mainstream magazines. Why do groups that raise awareness not target gay men in this sphere. Why is gay awareness solely target at one sort ‘of gay’ who buys gay related products.

    There is a huge number of gay people who don’t buy GT or Attitude and don’t socialise in an exclusively gay context for whom there is literally no promotion or awareness around the issue of safe sex and perhaps hasn’t been since the very early 1990s. It’s almost galling that charities and health authorities can allow this to happen.

    1. …you cannot tactically ignore a large majority of the most at risk demographic and then act surprised when infection rates rise or do not fall. It’s a no brainer. If you effectively ignore the very people who most need your help then it’s a struggle to get to grips on the situation.

  7. Robert in S. Kensington 16 Feb 2013, 2:11pm

    Some are lulled into a false sense of security now that these modern anti-virals are prolonging life and delaying the onset of AIDS. Clearly, education in HIV/AIDS is severely lacking, especially among younger gay males who think they’re invincible. This is such a preventable disease if only they’d pay attention and stop being so self-centered. Sadly their brains go south when an opportunity arises without considering that all it takes is one time to become infected and end up paying for it for the rest of their lives and with their lives. Madness!

    1. Well said, Robert. And I maintain that the problem is in why “their brains go south”, as you say. What takes over the brain so that it goes for the unsafe sex? Lots of studies have shown that consumption of alcohol and the use of drugs is a major factor. The Lancet recently published an article about high use of crystal methamphetamine among gay men in London. That’s a drug which causes guys to put pleasure before prevention. Who’s pushing the nights of alcohol and drugs? The clubs! The magazines that advertise “A Night of Frenzied Passion”, and so forth! These industries are making a mint out of gay men. They don’t give a damn what happens when those gay men are off their heads in the backrooms. And NOBODY is stopping these industries from screwing gay men of their health. Particularly not organizations like the Terrence Higgins Trust.

  8. Or put another way:- the lack of effective and impactful deterrents in HIV campaigning have led to less condom use among gay men that has in turn led to an increase in HIV rates.

    Nice of Sir” Nick to take time from his busy schedule to once again state the obvious when it is he who has presided over this meteoric catastrophe over 22 years at the helm of THT.

    So, the figure might otherwise have been 80,000 gay men, Nick?

    Not for want of trying, eh?

    But then what else to expect from the smugness, righteousness, supreme arrogance and indifference that characterises those who maintain they will finally use HIV prevention funds to cut HIV rates (honest, guv!) only to yet again fritter away millions of taxpayers’ pounds on initiatives that serve only to create ever more “victims” for its HIV user services.

    Like the Chief Exec of the NHS, “Sir” Nick is out of excuses and out of time.

    1. It’s a well known fact that Partridge has a degree in stating the bleeding obvious

      1. He has the knighthood too, JD.

        You couldn’t make it up, really you couldn’t!

    2. Spanner1960 17 Feb 2013, 7:38am

      “The lack of effective and impactful deterrents in HIV campaigning”
      Oooh no dear, we can’t go upsetting the natives. That’s called “promoting the stigma.”

      The whole HIV/AIDS industry has become more about touchy-feely worries of those already infected, and we will just dish out tablets like Smarties to anybody else we find and keep it all quiet. We don’t want to rock the boat.

  9. NorthernIrishGuest 16 Feb 2013, 2:21pm

    As someone looking from the outside IN to the gay and bisexual male community – I think one of the problems is hyper-sexuality. So many young men can access sex quickly, through Grindr for example. There is a stark difference between the habits of my lesbian/bisexual and gay/bisexual friends – lesbian “culture” doesn’t have this same focus on sex, in my opinion anyway. A lot of outreach work is done in my local city – condoms/lube in every bathroom of an LGBT club – yet still the excuse is “condoms ruin the moment.” I think a mixture of hyper sexuality (from the gay community AND mainstream outlets) mixed with a hedonistic outlook causes these figures to go up. It doesn’t matter what way you look at it, there is a failure somewhere along the way that is causing HIV to come back to the foreground thanks to advanced technology. But like I said, I’m on the outside looking in, so perhaps my view is all wrong.

    1. NorthernIrishGuest

      Your post makes a lot of sense.

      The sex drive – particularly the male sex drive – can be very strong.

      There is an aphorism – attribution uncertain – that having a libido is like being chained to a lunatic.

      If people allow that lunatic to take them wherever he wants, then bad things are going to end up happening, whether that be HIV infection, relationship break-up due to infidelity, or an incapacity to form lasting intimate relationships due to the ingrained habit of casual sexual encounters and the depersonalisation of the other.

      It can take real strength and determination to stop that lunatic mapping out one’s life journey, but if we want to live powerful lives that we control in our longer-term interests, and according to our values, then that is exactly what we have to do.

      1. Do you really believe men are that close to the brink of control?

        I only ask cos I’m a woman, lesbian, so kind of removed from how men function sexually.

        1. Ali

          Unfortunately, I think that men on the whole have much poorer impulse control than women. That seems to be particularly the case where sex is concerned. Alcohol and drugs make that impulse control even more precarious.

          That’s why men are generally much closer to expressing their anger in physical violence than are women.

      2. NorthernIrishGuest 16 Feb 2013, 7:53pm

        I think also what frightens me for young men is that it just takes that ONE time. You could use condoms a hundred times in a row, but refusing that one time may be the moment they contract HIV. Those who are not promiscuous can contract it from a partner especially when this idea of “condoms ruin the moment” or “it won’t happen to me” or “I like bareback” runs amok. I think you’ve mapped it out really well regarding the depersonalisation of sex on the gay scene – I’m not sure if that is more prevalent in older or younger men – but I have noticed that. I also think delayed teenage experiences – first kiss, first boyfriend, first sexual encounter – didn’t happen for many during their teenage years and so, when over 18 and equipped with money, experience these Rites of Passage in a sexually charged atmosphere which may not be healthy. Either way it all comes down to the consequences of homophobia, for me.

        1. NorthernIrishGuest

          What you have written is bang on the money.

          All it takes is that one time when someone decides not to use a condom. When people are very sexually charged, and have taken alcohol or drugs, and perhaps lack the confidence and self-respect to resist the pressure from someone who doesn’t want a condom to be used, they might be tempted to take the line of least resistance, and then rue the day for the rest of their lives.

          What you say about delayed teenage experience is right. Gay people do not develop their sexuality and their sexual experience in the same organic, natural and socially endorsed way as their peers. It gets bottled up and then risks exploding. Institutionalised homophobia plays a big role in all of this.

          Another problem is that many people – gay and straight – see sex as a way of (temporarily) suppressing emotional pain and replacing it with the distraction of excitement. Sex can become compulsive as a kind of very short-term self-medication.

          1. Spanner1960 17 Feb 2013, 11:42am

            Oh, thats for sure.
            I was a late bloomer at 31, and I had a fair number of girlfriends before then, but when I cam out I had more men in the first six weeks than I had had women in my entire life.

            It is very easy to get carried away in the heat of the moment, but one has to always keep “one eye on the clock” so to speak and never lose complete control, or you are ultimately doomed.

  10. One of the things that LGBT people should pride ourselves on is the ability to resist pressures to conform, in the service of what is of real value to us. This is what led to our “coming out” and self-acceptance, after all.

    Yet when young gay men enter the gay scene, the craving to belong, and to enjoy “acceptance” when it has been denied them for so long, can lead to craven, uncritical forms of conformity to a new subculture: dress codes, values, body- and age-judgments/obsessions, and behaviours, often including drug abuse and unsafe sex.

    Just because something is “gay”, doesn’t mean it is automatically “good”. “Gay” can mean “behaviour currently condoned on the commercial gay scene”, where the values of the “gay scene” are out-of-kilter with what we need to live happy and healthy lives.

    We do not have to buy an off-the-peg identity from the gay scene: the Pink Sheep Syndrome. We are free to be more critical and discerning, and to forge our own paths.

  11. Maybe is drug use that does it. Oops! Just saying. HIV is a retrovirus and retroviruses are harmless and not sexually transmitted. Deal with it. I do.

    1. You are wrong. HIV is sexually transmitted. That is the opinion of the vast, vast majority of international scientific opinion.

      Saying that HIV is not sexually transmitted, or that it is not the cause of AIDS, is the equivalent of saying that the Earth is flat, or that God created Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, or that the Pope is infallible.

      They are not only errors. They are appallingly dangerous and harmful errors.

  12. Like we needed “experts” for that. Hedonism and the “can’t care less” attitude can only lead to more and more cases of not just HIV rise but every single STI and STD under the sun. Barebacking and drug taking have reached epidemic proportions and yet, we keep burying our heads in the sand !

    1. Blue, all you say is true, but these factors have reached epidemic proportions only within certain big city scenes that cater for one sub group of gay men, and one which I believe Matthew Todd brilliantly identified in his recent hard-hitting Guardian article that, itself, points a tacit finger at THT, namely:-

      I would like to assure you that most gay men in the UK today – probably well over 90% of us – most certainly do not feature in that sub group, although some may crossover from time to time.

      Naturally there also will be some among the 90+% that have a self-destructive mindset that leaves them open to contracting HIV, but they cannot then force their HIV onto others lest they wilfully resort to rape.

      I hope that makes you sleep a little easier from now on.

  13. “A fall in the number of gay and bisexual men using condoms over the past 20 years is responsible for a rise in HIV cases among the group, according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA).”

    Correct me if wrong here but hasnt Nick Partridge been running the THTrust for the same length of time – 1990 to 2010? Ought not he really to be fessing up – “This research provides concrete evidence of my role in sanctioning campaigns which failed to properly explain to impressionable 20 year old gay men why they should always use condoms and which persuaded other gay men to ditch condoms altogether and so aided the spread of HIV in the UK. Without me there would have been a fraction of the current number of gay men infected with HIV between 2000 and 2010.”

    THAT would be far closer to the truth.

  14. Having read the original PLOS report I think it is high time that HIV is properly treated as the public health risk that it so clearly is to MSM. Perhaps Public Health England will now see the benefit of investing in HIV prevention at the local level, which is where it is needed most.

    The particular modeling scenarios in the report show that increased testing rates & treatment are keys to reducing HIV incidence ( minus 68% over the last 10 yrs had testing & treatment been increased) which is a significant reduction in new infections; 2011 could have been less than 1000 as opposed to 3000!

    We need to focus all our attempts on working with the 20% of MSM that are responsible for 80% of the new infections – more collaboration, better targeting of resources, closer links with the NHS & other service providers such as drug, alcohol & mental health

    Local authorities, commissioners & local charities have a real opportunity to make headway with HIV prevention, let’s hope they get it right!

    1. This is the second study that has been released by the HPA in as many weeks – it is no co-incidence (in my view) & I believe these studies will help shape the future of HIV prevention at the local level when Councils become responsible for HIV / STI prevention in April this year. We should also note that the original study was entitled “Increased HIV Incidence in Men Who Have Sex with Men Despite High Levels of ART-Induced Viral Suppression: Analysis of an Extensively Documented Epidemic”.

      If the BBC (which I believe originally ran the story) had used a more positive headline such as “Consistent condom use prevents 8,000 new HIV infections each year” perhaps gay men would be more likely to engage in such a news story, rather than use the highly negative approach that only perpetuates the view that gay men are irresponsible, promiscuous & are HIV ridden! This is a model based study & will hopefully inform future prevention methods to ensure a more targeted approach!

  15. Barebacking across the universe, on the starship ‘Feel the Seed’ under Captain Breed.

  16. Gazza 33 minutes ago Report
    Thumb up Thumb down 0


    “I’m not sure you have completely understood my post. I do think that the statistics need to be exposed, and people strongly discouraged from unsafe sex, even if homophobes will try to exploit the information.”

    Of course statistics need to be exposed. It would add to likelyhood of risky behaviour and even higher rates of infection if they weren’t.

  17. 200, 000 babies were aborted last year. The rate is increasing. I don’t think it’s gay men, I think it’s people in general that are using condoms less and less.
    Its obvious that not using a condom is more erotic. I highly doubt there will be a reverse in this trend.

    1. Jock S. Trap 18 Feb 2013, 9:57am

      There is sadly truth in your comment jack.

      It does seem across the board that we have problems of condom usage. They do seem to be like fashion accessories and like such come in and go out of fashion. Mostly due, I think, to the lack of education. Not just about HIV but also about the effect of it and medication etc.

      I do think that for some brand like Nike, Addidas, even Abercrombie etc could use their names of condoms and some would see that as cool but ultimately people need to be taught the same message but in a variety of ways that attracts attention to the way various people take in this message.

  18. Sir Nick quoted in today’s Guardian:-

    “We know from our own research that the vast majority of gay men know that HIV is the most serious threat to their health and most gay men use condoms most of the time…”

    He is either seriously misguided or just plain lying.

    For starters a vast proportion of gay men below 25 can’t differentiate the seriousness of different STIs because sexual health campaigns have each used similar graphics and wording without highlighting the specific consequences of infection:- thereby making HIV interchangeable with curable STIs such as gonnorhea and syphilis.

    And the research he refers to, conducted by CHAPS partner Sigma, has long been denounced as skewed and loaded.

    A case in point:- one THT ad a few years ago stated “8 out of 10 men used condoms last year”, giving the impression that 80% of men always play safe.

    What this wording really meant was that 8 out of 10 men used condoms in the previous year…ON AT LEAST ONE OCCASION.

    Big difference!

    1. Given that all the statistical evidence produced by the HPA suggests that 80% of new HIV infections are attributed to 20% of MSM that have undiagnosed HIV I think it is reasonable to think that the majority of MSM do consistently use condoms

      The paper from which this article is based clearly suggests that if condoms were not consistently used by the majority of MSM over the last 20 years, the level of infections would be 5 times higher than they currently are. This to me suggests that the safer sex message is being heeded rather than ignored as you suggest

      The paper goes on to say that MSM have always taken risks & had unprotected sex, (even after the initial epidemic) with risk taking increasing from a level of 35% in 1990 to 44% in 2010; an increase of 9 percentage points over 20 years, (this could be linked to the fact that HIV is no longer a terminal illness) hardly the failure you & others suggest in my view. We should also note that you have no confidence in any statistics!

      1. Forgive me for assuming these stats emanated from the now discredited Sigma Research stable of the CHAPs partnership, W6.

        An easy oversight in the circumstances, I’m sure you’ll agree.

        1. Spanner1960 17 Feb 2013, 11:55am

          Sigma was discredited?

          1. If you were wondering what happened to the annual Gay Men’s Sex Survey, Spanner, you should know that Sigma Research – part of the CHAPS partnership led by THT – had its funding withdrawn after it was found the results were being loaded, skewed, distorted and improperly evaluated in order to present THT’s work in a false light, thereby securing its future funding.

            Some of Sigma’s interpretation of the results were blatantly selective and misleading to the point where, presumably, the funders became aware and an investigation launched:- hence why THT announced several years ago that the survey had decided to take a, ahem, “gap year”, and never returned.

            This should have been headline news as it was proof that we have been lied to and deceived by the HIV sector for many years, and our health and well being, potentially, endangered as a result.

            But instead all we got was the latest THT puff PR piece flogging home-testing kits or some such money-making lark.

            You couldn’t make it up!

          2. Samuel
            Perhaps you can direct Spanner & myself (& other interested readers) to the reference point for your assertions, so we can make our own judgements on what Sigma did & did not do. I completed a year long survey in 2011 which had nothing to do with THT / CHAPPs, which is often the case.

            I suggest that like many of your comments – it is you that IS MAKING IT UP to suit your argument. Let’s face it this wouldn’t be the first time would it?

          3. W6, if you seriously think I am making something of this very serious nature up then I jolly well would expect you to contact Sigma Research and advise them to sue me for defamation.

            You have a leg in the door at THT where it is common knowledge why funding for the GMSS was withdrawn.

            Why don’t you also ask them about that next time you are at Grays Inn Road?

            A statement was also put out by the commissioning authority responsible for funding the GMSS as to why their funding was withdrawn but I am not going to the effort to prove a point solely to indulge you, sorry.

            I suggest you contact them direct instead for verification instead, and when you do receive it to post again, apologising for implying I would make something of this nature up as well as revealing whether this disclosure will affect your opinion of the way the CHAPS consortium operates.

            Thank you.

      2. No Samuel they come from the HPA & are included in the paper upon which this article is based. I only use the HPA for my reference point in the UK, as they provide extremely accurate HIV surveillance data which is probably the best in the world.

        We only have it on your authority that Sigma Research has been discredited & much of their data is collected regardless of their involvement in the CHAPs collaboration. I took part in a year long survey in 2011 which had no connection with CHAPs / THT.

    2. Sister Mary Clarence 18 Feb 2013, 5:19am

      “For starters a vast proportion of gay men below 25 can’t differentiate the seriousness of different STIs because sexual health campaigns have each used similar graphics and wording without highlighting the specific consequences of infection:- thereby making HIV interchangeable with curable STIs such as gonnorhea and syphilis.”

      I agree. Of course you’re going to get shouted down by any THT lap dogs in the area for saying it but the message to young people today is that if you get HIV there are drugs available to treat it. The message is if you get syphillis, their are drugs available to treat it. My guess is the confusion lies somewhere here.

      HIV prevention has lost its way, despite there being significant amounts of money directed towards it, and those responsible for failing to deliver that message need to be sidelined and replaced with people who can deliver.

  19. Why is HIV infection more of a risk to homosexuals than heterosexuals? Heterosexuals do not have an increased use of condoms, far from it, so why does the virus appear to target homosexuals? I don’t know the answer to that, yet I’m gay. I was called “AIDS victim” throughout my years at school which included the time of the public information films about AIDS. People still use the media releases about increased rates of HIV infection amongst gay men as justification for homophobia, yet every news release about HIV and AIDS specifically mentions the increased risk for gay men and bigots are feeding on that to fuel their homophobia. Due to my experiences, I equate publicity about increased HIV rates in gay men with increased homophobia and tune out to the message as a result. There’ll be plenty others like me. Some of the gay men who always use condoms can appear to be lecturing to all other gay men, but preaching won’t work.

    1. Stevie

      People have to accept that actions have consequences. You refer to the warnings about using condoms as “preaching” and “lecturing”, but it is the people who refuse to listen who will suffer the consequences, not those giving the warnings.

      I was 20 in the early 1980s when we started hearing about AIDS. We were incredulous. We had no idea at that time there was a virus that could sit around in the body for 20 years without manifesting in illness, while people continued to pass it on to others sexually.

      I lost several friends to AIDS, including a lover. A wonderful guy who did not have sex with large numbers of people, but who was unlucky. There were no drugs then to keep people alive.

      I was very lucky not to have contracted HIV. It was pure good luck. Having experienced what I have been through, I am very keen to pass on the warning to others, so they don’t mess up their lives. I have lived through this whole epidemic. It is a serious warning, not a lecture.

      1. Gazza, we have to acknowledge that young gay guys today will never be able to fully appreciate what happened in the 80’s & 90’s; it was truly horrific!

        We cannot expect today’s 20 something’s to read up on the history of HIV or totally understand the fear that existed. Many young gay men believe that HIV is an older gay man’s problem & I suspect that when we hark back to those times it only reinforces this perception.

        We have a problem; which is that the majority of people with HIV can live very well if diagnosed promptly. In addition those diagnosed in the last 10 to 15 years have not been subjected to the first experimental treatments, which caused outward physical signs of being on ARV’s.

        How do you convince a young gay guy that they must never take unnecessary risks with sex, when the guys they often know / socialise with are living very well with HIV, they are enjoying life, have good jobs & just get on with life, it is a difficult argument to cut through in my view.

        1. My experiences(and others) of living with HIV for the last 5 years are surely much more relevant today than the experiences of those who were diagnosed 30 yrs ago are they not.

          I have the advantage of taking modern ARV’s & embracing new approaches to treatment (I currently do not take triple therapy, opting instead for mono therapy). I am very well monitored every 6 months & see my Consultant once a year. My meds are delivered to my home to ensure I need run out & that I am not having to keep seeing my Consultant for repeat prescriptions

          This is what modern HIV care & treatment looks like in 2013 for many many individuals, yet I get the impression from posting here that my experiences are not valid, some have said I make being +ve seem too easy. I am only telling it as it is when it comes to the day to day aspects of living with HIV. I am not going to lie & present a picture that some would prefer, that having HIV is still as horrific as it was the 1980’s, clearly it is not!

          1. I should point out that triple therapy means taking 3 different types of drugs (usually 2 NRTI’s & another component, from another class) which are often now combined into one pill.

            Mono therapy means taking only 1 type of drug, a protease inhibitor, which keeps my viral load suppressed using the very minimal amount of drugs.

            This saves money for the NHS & means any likely drug toxicity is kept to a minimum.

          2. W6_Bloke

            Thank goodness that so much progress has been made in medical interventions for people with HIV since the 1980s.

            The points you make are correct: times have changed since the 1980s, and the fortunate thing is that people infected these days have a good chance of living a fairly normal lifespan and a healthy life, because of the availability of medication.

            I think the awareness campaigns should focus on the inconveniences caused by being HIV+: the fact that there is the added complication of navigating disclosure of HIV status to a potential new partner, the inconvenience of regular hospital visits and later of a daily medication regime, and the disappointment of not being able to give blood. You know a lot more about HIV than I do, but I believe there can also be gradual neurological damage that is not prevented by medication. People should probably know about that. I also think that people should be encouraged to think about the lifetime cost of treatment.

          3. W6, I applaud your involvement in matters HIV and your obviously genuine concern to remove myth and so forth. However, I am sufficiently conversant with how things are for the spectrum of people suffering from HIV to know that your own health and treatment experiences in, presumably, the environs of London W6, appear to have been far more fortunate that they are for many people who are HIV and who are also receiving treatment.

            I have a good friend who is an HIV specialist nurse and she has several times told me that she has a number of HIV+ patients who are responding so badly to their treatments (and that includes all the alternative treatments that they have tried) that they have indicated that they would prefer to end the misery and die.

            I think you ought to keep this in mind, and possibly ask yourself if, perhaps because you yourself are HIV, you may be seeking to avoid acknowledging that such realities exist, and that they could at some point in the future exist for you.

          4. Eddy

            I have often acknowledged that there will always be some individuals who either find it difficult to tolerate ARV’s or have not been able to manage adherence as well as they need to, which has resulted in the development of drug resistant HIV. I do not solely draw on my own experience, but from the experience of others up & down the UK through a the very active MyHIV forum which provides a support network for people living with HIV here in the UK.

            I have just responded to a question about side effects to a member who has recently started treatment, so I am fully aware of the potential for difficulties to arise. Sadly in my experience some clinics / clinicians do not take the care they should to deal effectively with problems relating to treatment, & it has to be said some patients are not very good at having a genuine two way conversation with their Consultants – I read about these things all the time so I am very aware of the challenges that HIV brings with it.

          5. It always amazes me Eddy that there are individuals like yourself who seem to want to wish poor health on +ve individuals – would you suggest the same to a cancer patient or someone who has diabetes – I think not!

            Depending on how large the HIV cohort at the particular clinic there will always be those who have added complications, possibly through co-morbidity or because of earlier drug treatments. I say again any clinic who is not actively helping those patients is not doing their job correctly – people with HIV deserve to have the very best care & treatment & palliative care when required.

            Approximately 500 people in the UK die because of HIV, many of which have been diagnosed very late & therefore do not respond well to treatment – we should be doing all we can to avoid such deaths in my view!

          6. W6, I most certainly do not wish to “put poor health on +ve individuals”! What I refuse to accept is your extraordinary and ridiculous insistence that no HIV+ patient need suffer a side-effect because medical staff have the power to ensure they don’t!

            Again, just now you have made it clear you are refusing to accept reality: that wasting occurs, that patients seek fillers in the face, fillers in the buttocks; that accumulations of fat occur; that buffalo hump exists; that CNS disturbances exist; that peripheral neuropathy exists; that medications cause continual diarrhoea of varying consistencies in some patients; that some patients inexplicably succumb to septicaemia and die; and so on, and so on.

            I am delighted that none of the above apparently affect you. But do consider yourself most fortunate! And please acknowledge the spectrum of reality.

          7. Eddie

            Thank you so much for your very good wishes, I believe that they are passed on in all sincerity…………..I must admit your I am unsure of my reply to you, I think you have got me lost for words on this occasion.

            No doubt the Google page that you brought up will also have explained in much more detail than I can about the side effects you mention, why they are caused & how prevalent they now are in the era of modern ARV treatment.

            If you have a serious point to make then please make it, otherwise we can spend all night picking out side effects from a whole host of HIV meds, even if they are not used today – go & do your homework Samuel!

          8. Oopps sorry I meant to say Eddie not Samuel – but there again it is an easy mistake to make given they have such similar views on ARV’s & seem to always want to pick the most extreme examples when it comes to HIV. Maybe you guys should join forces, you seem to be from the very same stable……………………

          9. W6, I ignore your insult, I note your incorrect assumptions, and I despair at your seemingly cast-iron need to PRETEND that being HIV+ is absolutely fine and dandy, and to PRETEND that with good care no HIV+ person ever experiences side-effects.

            I can only imagine that you’re comparatively young, that you’re body has so far shown no OUTER signs of difficulty. However, as you get older you’re in for bigger shocks than the average aging person who is not HIV+.

            One day you’ll have to acknowledge this. For the moment though, and for whatever reason or reasons, you’re simply unwilling to accept hard facts. I do wish though that you would desist from insisting untruths amongst vulnerable gay men. By doing so, you are doing them no favours.

          10. You are incorrect in your assumptions Eddy regrading my age – as you claim to know a thing or two about HIV then you will know that the standard monitoring that all +ve individuals undergo at least annually (if not every 6 months) tells me that all the markers for liver, kidney, bone, cholesterol, CD4, viral load, tri-glycerides, cardio-vascular risk etc tell both me & my Consultant all I need to know about the state of my health.

            These tests are standard clinical practice & most individuals never ask about these results – more people need to be empowered to make thier Dr’s work for them & to make sure they are receiving the very best care.

            I have several friends who suffer with metabolic syndrome as a result of the early drugs, other friends have with my help switched combinations & found that their side effects have very much reduced. As patients we all need to be pro-active in my view, but I also understand that many require help & support, which is what I offer as a volunteer!

          11. I am not going to pretend that I am unwell when clearly I am not. Just because I have HIV does this automatically mean that my life is all but over? I have no idea if you are talking from personal experience here as you have not had the foresight to explain where your views originate from, other than to say you often talk to an HIV Specialist Nurse.

            You may wish to be all doom & gloom about HIV, but in my daily contact with +ve individuals around the UK via twitter & MyHIV community forums, I believe I am very well informed by others about how they live with HIV. Some have been diagnosed for 30 yrs, others more recently, we are all there to support each other & to share experiences – the majority of those I am in contact with (over 2000 members) just get on with life, for those who need support & reassurance I do my best to help – so I will take no lectures from you in this area!

          12. hey W6 i’d say you suffer from a bit of the black & white, either one extreme or the other. eddy’s only asked you to see the truth, not close it off.

    2. Stevie

      You ask why gay people are more at risk than heterosexuals.

      It is actually gay men who are more at risk. Gay women are at very low risk because they are not putting large amounts of fluid containing high concentrations of the virus into one another’s bodies. Because they are at very low risk, the chance of a random sexual contact having HIV is also very low. It is still a good idea to have safer sex until both parties are sure of their HIV status.

      As for gay men, a comparatively high percentage of gay men are infected with HIV. That means any random sexual contact will have a higher risk of being HIV+. If people have penetrative sex without a condom, a large amount of fluid with a potentially high concentration of virus is put into the receiving partner’s body. Infection can also go the other way, and active partners do get infected, though the probability is lower.

      It seems that anal intercourse is more likely to lead to an infection than vaginal intercourse.

      1. Spanner1960 17 Feb 2013, 7:40am


        Stop talking in riddles Gazza.
        If you don’t know the real answers, I suggest you go find out and shut the fuck up in the mean time.

        1. What’s with the trigger aggression, Spanner1960?

          I don’t know whether you have noticed, but the commenter on here who is most knowledgable about HIV is W6_Bloke, and he goes to the trouble of sharing a great deal of *current* information, and does so with considerable patience and civility.

          Unless you are some kind of sociopath, you presumably wouldn’t have given that reply to someone you were in a face-to-face discussion with. There is already too much aggression around, on the gay scene and elsewhere, and when people read comments like that, they can be discouraged from taking part in the debate.

          The “seems” is consistent with the fact that my information is from my reading, and reflects the current state of knowledge as far as I know. By the way, the dogmatic and confident account you have given below of HIV infection is a couple of decades out of date.

          1. Thanks for your comments Gazza, it is never easy trying to provide an accurate picture of HIV science as all too often there are powerful ideas & myths planted in the minds of HIV negative individuals that seem to provide them with a degree if comfort & reassurance & anyone who may actually know a thing or two about HIV is often discredited.

            Spanner is known for his “shoot from the hip style” he will tell you that his Internet persona is the same as his real persona & he is quite happy to use his fists to settle an argument (so we are led to believe from previous exchanges).

            The thing that irks me about all HIV related stories is that they always get bogged down in the dislike for THT. There is never any room for real debate which is very frustrating!

            I have learned that in order to make any “headway” in such debates you have to fight fire with fire which sadly inevitably ruins the debate for many readers.

          2. Spanner1960 17 Feb 2013, 11:50am

            Well you obviously haven’t read much then, because the connection between anal sex and HIV transmission has been up there on the number one spot since 1979.
            My “trigger aggression” is people like you coming out with this touchy-feely sit-on-the-fence, don’t-make-any-rash-statements bollocks just in case you might possibly be found to be wrong. Like I said, check your facts and state them, or shut up and say nothing.

            As for W6_Bloke being the most knowledgeable, that may be the case because he is a professional in that field; however, I also think he has an axe to grind and prefers to follow the governments line on all this rather than the grass roots end that isn’t promoted by the civil service and big pharma. To that end I would rather take a lot of what he says with a massive handful of salt and check his findings.

          3. Spanner1960

            Maybe you should spend less time frothing, fulminating and head-banging, and more time reading other people’s posts properly, before sinking your teeth into the keyboard.

            Nowhere did I deny that unprotected anal sex is a very high-risk activity. The explanation you gave, though, for how HIV is transmitted, is out-of-date. You are the one who needs to be checking your facts, instead of mouthing off like a know-all.

            As for you accusing me of a “touchy-feely sit-on-the-fence” attitude, you seem to be confusing me with someone else. I have stated explicitly in other posts on here that I think the HIV awareness campaign needs to be more direct to be a deterrent.

            Now, Spanner1960, no more Mr Shouty, please. I take it from what you have posted that you aren’t a hormonal teenager any more. Stop behaving like one.

          4. W6_Bloke

            Oh well, yes, you get them turning up on most blogs where people can post anonymously. A lot of chronically angry people out there.

            As far as THT is concerned, it has been a rock for so many people since it was founded. There really do need to be more media public awareness campaigns, but if successive governments have been unwilling to allow them, or to fund them, what can you do?

            One of the problems is that the religious lobby still has undue influence in repressing any discussion of sex in the pre-watershed media (and after it), and in schools, and still tries to control what it regards as normal and abnormal in sex. There needs to be a much greater openness about sex in general in the UK, to create a good environment for discussing safer sex.

            Some angry people will always attack an institution, no matter how much good it is doing. There is so much disappointment, anger and misery around that it ends up getting projected onto people who aren’t responsible for it.

          5. Assumptions assumptions – they will always make an a$$ of you Spanner! I am not a professional as in healthcare professional – I am a very well informed individual living with HIV. I have no axe to grind as you so put it – & as for following the Governments line, nothing could be further from the truth.

            I do try to take a balanced view & if we look at HIV on a population scale I can see why successive Governments are not particularly interested in dealing more effectively with HIV – there simply are not enough cases in the UK to warrant the investment that is required. Our HIV prevalence rate here in the UK is 0.15% as compared with 0.60% in the States. We are on a par with the likes of Germany in the EU, so it is hardly surprising that more money is not invested. Going forward this may change particularly if infection rates continue to rise amongst the heterosexual population – you can bet your buck that the Government of the day will sit up & listen then!

          6. You may wish to try & discredit my information Spanner – I have yet to find anyone who has taken the time to research any of my claims & point out any inaccurate information in my postings. Perhaps you will take the time to check & point out any areas where you feel I have been deliberately misleading?

            I enjoy learning about science related topics & since my diagnosis I have not only grasped the basics but keep up to date as much as possible. Contrary to some of the claims made here about me, I take a very wide view of the various reports & studies that are published, & use my scientific knowledge to formulate my own opinions – I question everything which is exactly why I get on so well with my HIV clinical team – I challenge them by trying to be as knowledgeable as possible.

            As for being in touch with the “grassroots” from your rantings here about gay men I think I am much more likely to be closer to the average gay man then you have ever been!

          7. Gazza – I think the problem with HIV & Sexual Health prevention methods over the last decade or more is that the whole system has become too entrenched in bureaucracy. The way such services are commissioned both by central Government & previously by PCT’s & Strategic Health Authorities has resulted in a lack of joined up thinking & a clear focus on key messages. If I take London as an example the PCT responsible for managing the Pan London HIV Prevention Programme was woefully inadequate – the commissioning intentions & work programs were often at odds with each other, there was duplication, there was no effective evaluation of the program. Millions were wasted in the bureaucracy at this level & this is before the funding gets to the service providers!

            HIV prevention is only as good as the commissioning of the particular service; Charities bid for the contracts set up by people sitting at the PCT level & try to work to those contracts, but often the outcomes are not as intended…

          8. “I have yet to find anyone who has taken the time to research any of my claims & point out any inaccurate information in my postings.”

            W6, nobody’s disputing your supreme knowledge of treatments here:- what they have refuted is you constantly pulling rank with your expertise and citing treatments as the panacea to for all our ills and in place of grassroot HIV prevention efforts such as Gazza and Spanner suggest:- that is, effective, deterring ads that point out the modern day potential pitfalls of HIV.

            It’s no good always turning that around, like you do, and asking us how WE would visuaise such deterrents when it isn’t us who apply for the millions in funding to undertake such work.

            It is the THT which insists on grasping that cash every time while also spinning many other plates.

            As you have one foot in THT’s door perhaps you could emote the concerns of everyone on this board next time you pop your head in at Grays Inn Road, and ask them how THEY propose to put things right?

          9. As tempted as I am Samuel – I am not going to indulge you by going over the same old ground. I will share with you that I no longer volunteer for THT as I am now involved with local HIV clinics, where I am better placed to use my skill set. I also hope to become more involved with drug & alcohol use together with becoming better acquainted with Hep C which is an area I need to research.

            I continue to support THT as well as other HIV charities. Your impression that I only support one charity is very wrong & it may surprise you that there are many other HIV charities that do excellent work at both a local & regional level that never get mentioned here, primarily because of YOUR obsession with all things THT!

            We have a great opportunity to make a difference now that HIV prevention commissioning is being transferred to Local Authorities – I intend to get stuck in & make a difference, what are you going to do I wonder? Same old I guess (what was that definition of insanity???)

          10. Spanner1960 17 Feb 2013, 4:37pm

            @Gazza: I may well have missed mentioning contra-membrane transmission of the virus, but I was well aware it was one of the ways it could infect, even if it is not the primary way.

            What you said was that anal sex might be the reason, which is why I hit the roof. It wasn’t called a “gay disease” for nothing – it was an epidemic with gay men simply because gay men had anal sex.
            This has since been reinforced by the prevalence of straight people contracting the disease in sub-Saharan Africa due to the fact many men want to marry virgins, whereas if you have anal sex with a girl, they are still ‘virgo intactus’.

            Compounded with the fact many African men see condoms ‘unmanly’ has attributed the continent with a considerably higher heterosexual infection statistic than anywhere else in the world.

            In a nutshell, taking it up the bum without a rubber is THE worst thing you can do. FACT.

          11. Spanner1960

            I didn’t say “anal sex might be the reason.”

            What I said was, “It seems that anal intercourse is more likely to lead to an infection than vaginal intercourse.”

            I had already stated the high risk of anal intercourse, and sketched out the process of infection.

            Unprotected anal sex and unprotected vaginal sex are both considered to be high-risk sexual activities. From my research, receptive anal sex seems to be categorised as 18 times as risky as receptive vaginal sex.

            The poster I was replying to wanted to know why there was a higher chance of infection in gay sex than in hetero sex. I was trying to provide an answer.

            I said “it seems that” rather than “it is the case that” because I was relying on information I had previously read, that may or may not be correct, and that may or may not be superseded by more accurate information.

            It doesn’t seem to take much for you to fly off the handle. Sheesh.

        2. If the Commissioners were doing their jobs in evaluating the contracts correctly, funding should have been withdrawn & that service provider prevented from continuing to bid for future contracts. THT are often criticised for “hoovering up” prevention funding, but the reality of the situation is that it is Central Government & Local PCT’s that have continued to award THT these contracts. If THT has been allowed to become the dominant service provider then those who are opposed to this should be holding their MP’s & Local officials accountable for continuing to award such contracts.

          The Charity Sector has become an extension of Gov – THT is 75% funded by the tax payer so is it any wonder that they have to follow the government policy of the day. With funding becoming ever tighter the total pot of money has been salami sliced so much that the effect such funding can achieve has been completely diluted. Successive Governments & the Charities are responsible for this state of affairs.

          1. I don’t dispute a word of what you say here, W6.

            You describe a collusion between the government and THT in that government is dictating the direction of gay men’s health under the cover of THT’s charity status.

            It would certainly explain the “Sir” before Nick Partridge’s name, and no one is awarded that title lest they’ve given their service fully to Queen and country.

            In which case riddle me this, W6:- whose interests is Sir Nick – or rather the government – serving here?

            Gay men? Or the pharma lobbyists that have a revolving door into Whitehall and who attempt to dictate to and subvert our parliamentary process?

            I think reading between the lines you would agree this is wrong bordering on corrupt:- in which case nigh on impossible for the powerless common man to hold anyone responsible to account.

            What alternative action then, W6, would you suggest we take to rescue the HIV prevention budget from the clutches of those who don’t hold our sexual health education in high regard?

          2. Odd that Samuel – you take some things I say at face value and others I am subjected to unjust scrutiny & accusations of having a hidden agenda (pharma schill / THT schill), seems to me it just depends on which way the wind is blowing.

            In terms of HIV prevention you must hold your Local Authority to account from April onwards, you must engage with local Politics if you want to see better prevention services. Write to your MP, write to the Director of Public Health in your Local Council, follow what is happening rather than go over old ground that none of us can change

            There is a huge opportunity available at the moment, thankfully in London, all Councils have made a commitment to ensure better commissioning of HIV / STI services, but only time will tell if they deliver.

            My worry is that they are considering another Pan London Organisation of HIV prevention, which I think could once again become too big to manage & provide good focus for delivering good quality local initiatives

          3. W6, may I respectfully refer you to this disturbing article in today’s Sunday Express, which would tend to confirm the extreme levels of self-interest and corruption where our parliamentarians and public health service providers are concerned:-


            To wit:-

            “According to figures compiled by Social Investigations, an independent research organisation, 64 MPs have financial links with companies involved in private healthcare. Of them 52 are Conservative, nine are Labour and three are Lib Dem. There are also 142 lords with interests.

            These interests range from donations made by healthcare companies (including £750,000 to David Cameron since he became Prime Minister) to actual business shares, consultancies, directorships and overseas hospitality. Some MPs and lords have had their offices funded by healthcare companies, some have been paid thousands to attend speaking engagements on behalf of firms…”

          4. May I respectfully refer you, W6, to this alarming article in today’s Sunday Express, which would tend to confirm the extreme levels of self-interest and corruption where our parliamentarians and public health service providers are concerned:-


            To wit:-

            “According to figures compiled by Social Investigations, an independent research organisation, 64 MPs have financial links with companies involved in private healthcare. Of them 52 are Conservative, nine are Labour and three are Lib Dem. There are also 142 lords with interests.

            These interests range from donations made by healthcare companies (including £750,000 to David Cameron since he became Prime Minister) to actual business shares, consultancies, directorships and overseas hospitality. Some MPs and lords have had their offices funded by healthcare companies, some have been paid thousands to attend speaking engagements on behalf of firms…”

          5. Just as I suspected, no response at all from W6 on such a critical issue:- when the sins that are occurring in the NHS are being mirrored in the THT because they are both highly politicised and receive their directives and edicts from the same faceless managers who seem hell bent on destroying the health care and well being of a nation.

            Says it all, really.

    3. Spanner1960 17 Feb 2013, 7:50am

      There are a number of reasons why men who have sex with men (MSM) are at much higher risk. (Please note the differences – homosexuals includes women who are low risk and men that might have sex with each other who aren’t necessarily gay, such as prostitutes, people in prisons or on ships etc.)

      The primary reason is anal sex.
      The alimentary canal goes from your mouth to your bumhole and all the way through it is trying to extract nutrients and water. This means in many places it has a very soft, blood-rich membrane which can be easily damaged during sex.
      Whatever the gay rights people like to tell you, your arse was not designed for sex and you shouldn’t really go sticking things up your bottom, least of all another man’s penis, but ho-hum, these things happen. :) Even a small amount of seminal fluid (cum or pre-cum) that leaks can enter into the other persons bloodstream, so it is essential a condom is worn at all times.

      1. Spanner1960 17 Feb 2013, 7:59am

        The vagina on the other hand is designed for sex. (I use the word “design” in basic evolutionary developmental terms, not creationist) where the tissue is much thicker and there is actually an acidic secretion which acts as a spermicide. Most people are unaware that a woman’s lady-bits are the last place a sperm really wants to go.

        The second reason MSMs are more likely to contract HIV is the frequency. To put it in simple terms, we are all a bunch of sluts that are led around by our genitals. This isn’t just MSM’s or gay men, but all men. It’s what we do to try to spread our seed and consequently our genetic code as far and wide as we can.
        It’s just that women don’t want that. This is why you find so many straight men wanking to porn whilst MSM’s are bonking like rabbits.

        This then means more sex = more risk.
        Remember that even using a condom is still only safer sex, not safe

      2. Spanner1960

        Your explanation of HIV transmission is out-of-date.

        The lining of the rectum does not need to be damaged for HIV transmission to occur, (although transmission can be facilitated if there is damage and a body fluid with a high concentration of HIV gets into the bloodstream). There are certain cells that are susceptible to HIV infection in the body’s mucous membranes, which line inter alia the rectum, the mouth, the inside of the foreskin and the urethra. Mucous membranes contain a large number of dendritic cells that provide a route for HIV to enter the body. There do not need to be any tiny tears in the membranes for transmission to take place. HIV in semen can infect dendritic cells in the rectum (and mouth) directly, and HIV in anal mucous can infect dendritic cells in the tip of the urethra or inside of the foreskin. (And I add “it seems”, as I am drawing on what I believe are current findings, which might one day be revised.)

        1. Spanner1960 17 Feb 2013, 11:59am

          “This means in many places it has a very soft, blood-rich membrane which can be easily damaged during sex.”

          The intestine and rectum have a semi-permeable membrane, I was aware of this, but anal fissures and tears to the lining are still the most common vector.

          1. Says who?

            As far as I can make out, the only HIV specialist on here is W6_Bloke, who seems to have told you below that your views on HIV and its treatment are woefully out-of-date.

            There are certain cells in mucous membranes that are receptors for HIV. There do not have to be “tears”. Contact with mucous membranes is enough to provide a bridge for transmission. You completely missed that out of your lecture. Perhaps you need to spend less time being rude to people online, and more time getting up-to-date with recent science.

          2. The mechanism of HIV infection is complex; as has been correctly identified the dendritic cells play a vital part in grabbing hold of HIV & then transporting it to the lymphatic tissue, which is where HIV is able to infect the vast quantities of CD4 cells that are present in this tissue. Contact with any body fluid that contains high levels of virus that is infectious (not all HIV particles are infectious) is likely to lead to transmission, but it really is not as simple as HIV gaining entry to the blood stream, it is a complex process which is why I believe many people seem to get surprise positive results

            The role of other STI’s together with local inflammation due to trauma or repair are all factors that will have an impact on how susceptible an individual is to acquiring HIV. It may not be the case that because there is blood present infection always occurs – yes this is splitting hairs to some degree, but as I say bold statements require a good level of knowledge to back them up!

          3. To be fair I am not a “specialist” but I do know my subject area, & what I don’t know I will happily go & research before making any posting that may not be correct – I have mild to medium OCD, so double checking & cross-referencing is very important to me!

          4. Spanner1960 17 Feb 2013, 4:50pm

            The large intestine, (of which the rectum is a part) is covered by a single layer of epithelial cells. Mucosal membranes line cavities that are exposed to the external environment and internal organs, and area present the anus only, NOT within the rectum.

            I suggest it is you who brushes up on their anatomy.

          5. Spanner1960

            Rectal mucous is the body fluid that contains the highest concentration of HIV in an infected person. The fact it is called “rectal mucous” might give a hint that people normally do have mucous membranes in their rectums:



            I’m not a doctor, and you don’t seem to be one, either. If anyone makes a mistake about a scientific assertion, there will hopefully be someone to challenge it. I certainly don’t have any issue with that.

            What I don’t like so much, though, is uncalled-for aggressive and offensive behaviour on message boards. I’ve got a fairly thick skin, but some people haven’t, and it puts them off taking part in discussions. Someone who behaves in a way that diminishes and intimidates others with the effect of excluding them with scant cause is a bully in my book.

      3. Heterosexuals have anal sex too and lots of it and condom use isn’t more common amongst MSF than MSMs. Explain that, or is it only the gay male anus which isn’t designed for sex?

        “You shouldn’t really go sticking things up your bottom, least of all another man’s penis” is laughable! You’re a great advertisement for the bigots. Wind your neck in.

  20. Spanner1960 17 Feb 2013, 8:11am

    I was one of the few few fortunates that survived in the wake of the AIDS epidemic of the early 80’s. It might have been politically incorrect, but the term “Anally Injected Death Sentence” was terrifyingly true. If you caught it you would die, not if, but when.

    The “Don’t Die Of Ignorance” campaign also put the fear of God into people and one became very aware of all the safer-sex advertisements on the scene.

    Back then, if you were HIV+, it was merely a matter of counting out time, and whilst everybody felt sad for those people, it was seen as better to protect the living than the dying.

    Nowadays the whole situation appears to have reversed, where although HIV is now controllable, nobody ever mentions the real downsides to being positive for fear of upsetting or stigmatising those already infected. It has become a crisis management exercise.

    “Got HIV love? Oh dear, never mind, take two of these and call me in the morning.”

    We need to start scaring people again.

    1. How are you going to scare people into consistent condom use Spanner? How are you going to convince MSM that their lives will be massively changed by receiving an HIV diagnosis without making statements that simply are not true these days.

      I would be interested to know what your perception of “the real downsides” of having HIV are as it seems to me that often those who actually have HIV never tell it as it really is because they get shouted down & are made to feel uncomfortable about themselves because of ignorance.

      As far as I can see the only real deterrent is having to deal with the stigma & discrimination that still goes hand in hand with HIV – that is hardly a positive intervention to help reduce infection rates in my view!

      1. Spanner1960 17 Feb 2013, 11:29am

        If that were the case, why do people like THT exist at all?
        If being HIV+ is no worse than, say, diabetic.

        I have had this argument before with you, and you dispute it, yet I prefer to go with the authority of an HIV specialist doctor – he told me that contracting HIV will knock at least ten years of ones lifespan.
        There are also complications varying from minor sleep disorders to considerable immunodeficiency problems as side effects of the medication. People with other complaints including heart, liver, kidney, pancreatic or cancer problems compound the conditions.

        The drugs are not ‘cure-alls’ and with some people they work poorly, and sometimes not at all. The recent death of the porn star is a classic example. Many people can become resistant to medication.

        The general quality of life can be degraded in many cases to a point where people are unable to work, live or function without considerable support.

        1. Spanner1960 17 Feb 2013, 11:34am

          I am not trying to make the lives of those with HIV harder, but we do need to start slapping a few people that aren’t around the face and getting them to face up to the dangers.

          People are just taking HIV as a calculated risk and that it ‘will only happen to the other bloke’ and ‘so what, they’ve got tablets for it now.’

          People do not listen to lecturing and preaching and magazine articles. They learn from hard practical experience.
          I started using condoms because friends and acquaintances around me were dropping like flies. I was going to half a dozen funerals a year, and none of them were over 30. It takes serious shit like that to bring the message home, and if that’s what it takes, then I’m sorry for the image it might give HIV+ people, but it HAS to be done.

        2. I think your views on HIV & it’s treatment are woefully out of date Spanner & by all means take the view of an HIV clinician – there are good clinicians & mediocre clinicians. Maybe if you were diagnosed in the 90’s then the ten year life expectancy reduction may be appropriate, but with prompt diagnosis & treatment there is more & more evidence emerging to say that people living with HIV can expect the same life expectancy as their non infected peers.

          There are some studies in older people living with HIV that life expectancy can be greater than their non infected peers – the detailed monitoring of all patients in the UK ensures that many of the traditional illnesses associated with growing older are picked up very early & corrective action can be taken. Diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol changes, kidney & liver problems can all be picked up early by the monitoring that takes place – do you know your cholesterol & your 10 yr cardio-vascular risk assessment? I do!

          1. “Diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol changes, kidney & liver problems can all be picked up early by the monitoring that takes place – do you know your cholesterol & your 10 yr cardio-vascular risk assessment?”

            W6, you are living in cloud cuckoo land.

            The average guy who seroconverts today is not gong to have access to the kind of advice that you do, and will be subject to the whims of his doctor or specialist who will prescribe whatever treatments they are guided to by their particular health trust.

            And in an age in which doctors are being lobbied by pharma salesmen to push certain treatments over others, and where cutbacks and the specter of cheaply made generics loom, the health problems Spanner cites are likely only to exacerbate.

            As he points out, different people react to different drugs in different ways:- no one has any idea how well, and how long, they will survive on these toxic regimens.

            Contracting HIV is a lottery:- the only way to be sure is to remain negative.

          2. Spanner1960 17 Feb 2013, 4:26pm

            The doctor in this case happens to be a friend of mine as well as running one of the largest HIV/AIDs clinics in the country, and I have this information on good authority from only a few months ago.

            I am not HIV myself, but I have a good grounding in medicine and biology, and I am naturally interested in what is still one of gay mens biggest worries.

            I know treatments and regimes have changed and will continue to do so as the disease evolves and we learn more about it. I know until relatively recently it was considered best to keep people off medication as long as possible as the treatment was considered more harmful than letting the virus ride. That viewpoint has now since changed and people found to be infected are now urged to go onto medication immediately.

            This sort of scenario will continue to happen as new information unfolds, but we are by no means out of the woods yet, and contracting HIV is still a life-changing issue, and in many cases a life threatening one.

          3. I would suggest Spanner, it is your interpretation /understanding of the information provided to you by said HIV Specialist that is at fault! Your comments above are clearly at odds with the most recent British HIV Association Treatment Guidelines for Adults 2012, as nowhere does it indicate that “people are urged to go onto medication immediately” – perhaps you are referring to particular groups such as those in primary infection, co-infected patients, those with TB or perhaps pregnant women diagnosed in the latter part of their pregnancy…….do enlighten me, or perhaps get the good Dr to post a reply, I’m sure he would be only too pleased to put me in my place!

            As they say the devil is in the detail – either you are incapable of retaining detail or you are just blustering, either way your assertions are inaccurate!

        3. As for the need for a charity like THT this is often where the rub with gay men exists. THT is an HIV & Sexual Health Charity & is not solely focused on HIV amongst gay men – times have changed & the charity has changed with those times, yet some gay men are dead against this wider remit THT now has. In this age of equality why are HIV negative gay men so precious about having an HIV charity solely devoted to themselves – yes negative gay men are at greater risk of acquiring HIV, but that does mean they should be the sole benefactors of THT’s work.

          As we see here with your comments, stigma & discrimination is still very problematic for people living with HIV, & frankly you are part of this problem. If you are going to make bold statements then at least learn a bit about the subject matter rather than rely on an HIV Specialist who may also be an old school scaremongering individual like yourself!

          1. “THT is an HIV & Sexual Health Charity & is not solely focused on HIV amongst gay men”

            Talk about shooting yourself in the foot big time, W6.

            I’m sure most people would agree with you that THT has – greedily, many would argue – expanded its tentacles to cover all areas of sexual health.

            And I assume you are not also claiming that HIV prevention aimed at gay men is no longer mandatory?

            In which case how on earth do you defend the THT for maintaining a limpet like grip on the HIV budget when it is busy spinning so many other plates – from dishing out HIV services to African asylum seekers to teaching sexual health to10-year-olds – that it is unable to devote all its time and resources to preventing HIV?

            If THT was not in the business of greedily hoovering up all sexual heath funding available to become a bureaucratic come corporate monolith, then it would’ve had time to devote its resources to the cause which Terry Higgins – and his friends who started the Trust – gave his name to.

        4. Sister Mary Clarence 18 Feb 2013, 5:30am

          Never thought it would happen, but I’m going to agree with tyuo Spanner on your last post.

          Just checked out W6’s twatter, and he’s clearly got his head so deep in the THT trough we’ll never get any sense out of him.

          Perhaps we should insist that people with a prejudicial interest in THT should refrain from debates about them.

          1. W6 is most certainly in a class all of his own on this subject, Sister.

            He seems determined to push against the general flow of opinion and basic common sense come what may in order to push treatments as the one-size-fits-all solution to all things HIV, and is against any form of prevention work that would serve as a genuine deterrent against today’s gay youngsters wanting to acquire HIV.

            He ducks and dives all suggestion of such an initiative, using sleight of hand PC/sensitivity training trickery to turn the issue back on those advocating a harder line and then cries foul that WE are not dong anything to change things when it is not us who swoop vulture-like on the HIV prevention budget and hoover it up every time the contract is up for renewal.

            There is no doubt W6 is here to shill for the THT and advance their insane testing and treatment-led agenda at the expense of all other HIV prevention initiatives, no matter how many lives this approach ultimately ends up costing.

          2. Sister Mary Clarence 18 Feb 2013, 12:04pm

            Samuel, I am absolutely aghast at the way W6 is behaving.

            THT should be ashamed of themselves at the way their volunteers behave if he is typical of them.

            Its like he’s been brainwashed, and cannot acknowledge that people are allowed to have a different view from his.

            We all have views about all sorts of topics often largely based on our own life experiences. Those life experiences will all be different, and as a result those opinions that our experiences help form will all be different.

            Doubtless quite a number of us posting here will be +ve, and a larger number will have people close to us that are. We are not therefore completely uninformed about the subject matter. We have probably ALL be targeted by THT’s advertising/education programmes.

            When I look around my own social circle I don’t see anyone whose life is so together or perfect as the one W6 tells us he leads …..

    2. Whatever callous sociopath(s) awarded you two stars for speaking the blatant truth here, Spanner, seriously needs a good injection of humanity, compassion and their sick head(s) examined.

      1. Spanner1960 17 Feb 2013, 4:18pm

        I’m not sure how to take that.
        Was it a backhanded compliment, or a guarded insult? ;)

      2. Oops sorry Spanner, what WAS I on when I typed that?

        I was referring in fact to the two red arrows that miraculously were awarded to your posting within minutes of it appearing, just as they always immediately seem to appear whenever I post on an HIV related debate.

        Hmm, strange that, unless of course someone is attempting to engineer consensus on PN and is failing miserable…

        Ho hum.

    3. Spanner, as we all know you have often posted unacceptable messages in these threads, but I have to say that in essence what you have written here is correct. It’s the bare bones. The spade has been called a spade.

  21. GingerlyColors 17 Feb 2013, 9:16am

    Don’t die from ignorance and don’t die from complacency either.

  22. It’s great that, if diagnosed promptly, there are effective treatments now, but these drugs are powerful, have to be taken religiously and can have extremely unpleasant side effects. So we must be careful about balancing the reassuring message that prompt testing and treatment is to be encouraged with the fallacy that HIV is ‘not that serious coz you can take some pills’.

    I lost friends in the nineties and I have watched with anger as over the last decade THT put out a series of mealey mouthed campaigns whilst infection rates amongst our young gay brothers soared. Meanwhile there’s been a huge increase in the number of profiteering sex clubs and saunas. The fetishisation of bareback and its promotion in porn only adds to the toxic cocktail.

    Consistent condom use is the only effective strategy for reducing the risks of STD infection. It is time for gay men in their late thirties and over to stand up and say “Enough is enough: we will not see our younger gay brothers sold short.”

    1. It is also perhaps time for the THT to be split into two organisations: one engaged in prevention and health promotion and the other engaged in advocacy and support of those living with HIV. At the moment they seem to be woefully conflicted and it shows in their message.

    2. Hi there Iain – can I ask if you have any experience of taking HIV medications, or are your views those you have read about? I think you make an important point that side effects can be problematic, but in my view no one should have to put up with side effects that are debilitating – part of the job of a good Consultant is to ensure that these side effects are dealt with promptly & combinations changed accordingly. This may not work for everyone, but for the majority of people taking modern medication side effects are short lived & the detailed monitoring that place in the UK ensures that any underlying problems are identified and dealt with.

      My experience from contributing to a a UK HIV forum provides me with much anecdotal evidence to suggest that whilst side effects of medication are often very concerning most people are able to get these issues resolved with the help of their clinicians, health advisers & peer educators.

      1. Sister Mary Clarence 18 Feb 2013, 4:41am

        W6, I really do think you consistently push a rose tinted view of life with HIV. I’m pleased for you that your life seems to be together and you are managing your HIV well, but maybe because you are well informed about the topic you are able to better ensure you get what is right for you, but for a lot of people it isn’t the same.

        Getting on meds is still an issue for many people. Getting the right information to ensure they can take an informed view about going on meds is an issue. Getting the best medication rather than the most convenient is an issue. Correct identification of other health problems, HIV related and non-HIV related are hugely problematic for many. Getting appropriate GP and dentists services are also often difficult.

        There are so many things and it does annoy me that you seem to gloss over them all.

        1. This is the main problem with W6.

          He is way too simplistic in his argument about the benefits of the right treatments and views life from his own, narrow perspective and assumes that all positive people have the same in depth knowledge – and if not then WHY not?! – and access to the same top line treatments that he does.

          It does smack of an I’m alright Jack, nuff said, bugger everyone else type of attitude, I’m afraid.

          The problem is that the treatments that may currently work for W6 may not work for the next man or may work but only for a certain time.

          I greatly acknowledge the work W6 is doing in spreading his knowledge and guiding gay men to the treatments right for them, but on a person by person basis he can only ever help a few people at a time:- a fraction of the 3000+ gay men who seroconvert each year.

          W6 needs to consider the bigger picture and the realities that confront most newly-converted people who will be at the whim and caprices of their doctors and specialists.

          1. Jock S. Trap 18 Feb 2013, 10:08am

            You’ll find that most people living with HIV research the fact and become better educated.

            The problem is people who don’t have it don’t and they won’t, whether personally or in schools. This shows the importance that this kind of education is vital to all. It’s not a case of ‘I’m alright Jack’ it’s a case of why aren’t people being educated to have the knowledge, the facts.

            As with all illnesses people don’t tend to be educated until they end up with the problem. That is not the fault of that person who has the illness. Most information is out there. It’s the fault of each individual who thinks it won’t happen to them, mainly because they have no education on the subject. This is why attitude to education needs to change. Like anything else more money needs to be spent on prevention.

          2. Sister Mary Clarence 18 Feb 2013, 6:59pm

            Unfortunately though at the point people are first diagnosed they are unlikely to be particularly well informed and are therefore not best placed to take decisions about treatment, and argue against decisions made by their doctors.

            As time goes by, understandably knowledge improves for most people, but people must first overcome the turmoil, the dread, the shame and the confusion that often manifests, before they can focus on making the right decisions about their future.

            The researching for most people comes later.

          3. Jock S. Trap 19 Feb 2013, 9:07am

            Indeed Sister Mary C… I have know several people who have committed suicide after finding out because all they heard was negative press and negative comments. They couldn’t see people living with HIV like myself they just saw a blank brick wall.

            It’s very sad and doesn’t need to be and all because education is the most important thing. It’s all very well trying to scare people into being safer but that too has dire consequences.

          4. Very well said Jock, it is a very fine balancing act in terms of getting the right message out there to encourage people to regularly test & at the same time realise that whilst HIV is an illness no one wants, there is life after receiving that diagnosis & as the years have gone on that life has become less restrictive & more people living with HIV enjoy life to the full.

            If there was an easy way of dealing with this conundrum then whoever comes up with the right formula will make plenty of money & at the same time enable new infections to drop like a stone!

    3. “Meanwhile there’s been a huge increase in the number of profiteering sex clubs and saunas. The fetishisation of bareback and its promotion in porn only adds to the toxic cocktail.”

      Well said, Iain. So true!

  23. THT will argue that we don’t live in an ideal world where condom use will always be used by everyone, and that it is naive to think this would be the case.

    However there was a time when condom use was considered de rigueur by gay men.

    It was the HIV sector itself that created a false dawn with the advent of antivirals and began transmitting irresponsible messages about their effectiveness while simultaneously deciding that messages aimed at those who were, as a result, starting to bareback, should be aimed at ALL gay men.

    Thus gay men weaned on a non-negotiable “condoms always” message began seeing ads instructing them to “pull out and cum over his back”.

    Before too long it was being dictated that all prevention campaigns had to take into account that some gay men f*cked without condoms and targeted accordingly.

    The blurring of the original “condom always” message to today’s messages such as “Update Your Status” is a mass betrayal of the trust we placed in them to guide us safely.

    1. Well said Samuel – this is the heart of the problem and where THT has failed us.

  24. W6, your faith in science and knowledge of drug regimens as elucidated in this debate is very inspiring.

    However you should be reminded that nothing in science where HIV is concerned is yet an absolute, and while some may lay claim that putting people on treatment as soon as diagnosed would reduce onward transmissions by such and such an amount, the fact is that no one truly knows.

    While I have no doubt that you have genuinely good intentions in propagating such hypotheses, I also have no doubt that they are actively encouraged, indeed pushed, by a pharma cartel hungry for ever more profit whatever the cost.

    Your steadfast refusal to opening your mind enough to entertain such a possibility, unpalatable though it may seem, is, I fear, your Achilles Heel.

    When you do awaken to the fact that big pharma DOES sponsor such reports to boost its bottom line and its propensity to misrepresent its own drugs research, I have no doubt that you will come into your own.

    1. I would also refer to your endless citing of endless statistics and scientific studies that cannot hope to provide a definitive picture of HIV in the UK today nor an evaluation of the best approach required to tackle onward transmissions head-on.

      As we all know, stats are bandied around almost meaninglessly by the HIV sector, most recently in tandem with fear-mongering campaigns designed to force us all into testing clinics when they refuse to use the same level of shock tactic in genuine HIV prevention campaigns (I refer specifically to the THIVK and electric chair campaigns).

      As the saying goes, there are lies, damn statistics and lies.

      What you need to remember is that those you are debating with on these forums are speaking experiencially as opposed to theoretically, which is where the academics and scientists who compile your beloved and oft-quoted studies come from.

      So a little more dialogue relative to the level of most PN contributors for a change wouldn’t go amiss.

      1. It seems to me Samuel that you are prepared to believe some statistics & not others – this story is based on surveillance data which have been used to “model” various scenarios & to provide an insight as to what is actually driving new infections the most; at the same time to help identify a clear strategy that may help reduce the incidence of HIV going forward

        I happen to believe it is a very beneficial piece of research, you on the other hand may not see the benefit in terms of public health & longer term planning for HIV Services. In case you hadn’t noticed our NHS is going through a huge re-organisation, which for HIV services could be good, but could also be a disaster – the need for modelling of this type is very important if NHS Commissioners are going to get things right in the future both in prevention & care & treatment

        Without an appreciation of the statistical data longer term decisions cannot be made & the money available used to greatest effect it is that simple

    2. You have spent the best part of 3 years trying to discredit me Samuel – so forgive me (once again) I am very sceptical of your intentions when you offer some words of that could be perceived as “complimentary”. You have the mantra that HIV is a global “business” & that the pharma co’s are at the heart of every decision taken here in the UK regarding anything from HIV prevention to treatment -that is your entitlement, but do not expect me to allow your “conspiracy theories” to go unchallenged.

      I am not interested in the balance sheets of pharma co’s & I have said Gilead are greedy in the way they price their ARV’s. Despite what you think, there are several often prescribed ARV’s that I am very critical of, Efavirenz (which is a component of the1 pill a day Atripla) is the top of my list. 20 yrs ago it was the gold standard, this is no longer the case, others are of equal effectiveness & less toxic to the central nervous system – I want the best outcomes when it comes to meds

      1. I use this as an example to once again demonstrate that I do not have an “ideology” wedded to pharma co’s – ARV’s work, they are very well tolerated by the majority & right now they are the only real tool we have to ensure that the 40,000 or so +ve MSM in the UK can at least get on with life & enjoy all that life has to offer; what irks me often on PN is that some commentators, including yourself want to play down the advances in treatment & care, you seem to want to wish the worst case scenario upon those of us living with HIV.

        Is it any wonder that I am often a lone voice as you keep saying – the sad fact is that many many +ve individuals lead double lives because individuals like yourself are so quick to make assumptions, make judgements & be all doom & gloom about HIV – forgive me but I am not prepared to allow you or others to perpetuate the myths I see here all the time.

  25. Just wanted to say thank you to W6 for spending so much time in this topic and trying to correct opinion vs the evidence as we know it about HIV on PN.

    My understanding of the evidence is that in order to continue to living a full life as a gay man with HIV, the evidence is that to test early.

    Going on medication also helps with the spread of HIV.

    Maybe I am reading this wrong, but I deeply worry that so many of those who continue to comment on topics related to HIV, gay men, from your lofty heights of being negative or have yet to find out your diagnosis, think it is dignified to spend so much time attacking an individual living with HIV. I shudder.

    I am no great fan of THT, but I do not think they are to blame for so many gay men, who think they can live the life, take drugs, drink, have sex without condoms and that it will not affect them.

    It does not work like that. Ask anybody who has it, ask a friend, my guess you have at least one who is living with it.

    1. Thanks very much Charles for your supportive comment – alas I fear that the likes of Samuel B. will suggest that your comment is not genuine & it is just my vain attempt to create “consensus opinion”. All the same I very much appreciate the time it must have taken you to read through the thread – an accomplishment in itself!

      It is encouraging to realise that some of my postings are either helpful or perhaps encourage others to learn more about HIV – it that happens every now n then I am very happy ;-)

    2. Sorry to have to correct you here, Charles, but when the likes of THT and GMFA actively collude with, endorse and receive fundraising from underground sex dungeons with names like “The Play Pit” and club nights called “Filth”, then they most certainly are a part of the drive to hypersexualise gay men and create degrading environments in which the binging on drugs, alcohol and sex without condoms is regarded as normal behaviour.

      There appears to be a certain degree of denial among HIV-pos men spurred by an irrational belief that negative men tend to adopt a lofty, holier than thou stance when all we are interested in occurring is for HIV prevention to stop being twisted inside out and turned on its head so that it ceases actively spawning the types of environment that facilitate unsafe sex as opposed to adopting common sense measures that serve to minimise its spread.

      Is that too much to ask?

      And again, medication is NOT the answer to all our ills:- safer sex and staying negative is.

      1. If you make a conscious decision to protect yourself against HIV, great.

        Unfortunately, there are an awful lot of gay men, who for one thing or another, make a different decision. Perhaps, once they do not live up to their own standards, and get pissed or high and have sex without a condom. Or those who do it a few times and think it will not affect them. Even those who possibly don’t care because they are depressed or have low self esteem.

        If you seriously think that myself, anybody who else who is HIV, or any HIV charity would ever wish or actively collude in somebody getting HIV, you need to grow up.

        You know that you can become a member of THT, attend their AGM and express your opinions. Rather than ranting here. Why not find out all the information and debate this face to face.

        1. “You know that you can become a member of THT, attend their AGM and express your opinions. Rather than ranting here. Why not find out all the information and debate this face to face.”

          We’re supposed to believe the above was posted by one” Charles”?


          So, another W6 alias exposed, and trust me I take no delight in doing this, W6.

          The above extracted quote is the same one you have used previously in successive HIV debates on PN boards almost ver batim.

          I will resist from listing previous extracts here so as to save your embarrassment, W6, but I do think it mighty rich that you go to such trouble to invent aliases to make it appear as if another person agrees with you when you have the audacity of accusing me of indulging in a lobbying conspiracy with assorted PN veteran scribes.

          I would also remind you that it was exactly one year ago this weekend that I outed “Stu”on the PN boards for using an identical alias (Charles) to engineer a similarly false consensus.

          Whatever next?!

          1. Provide any evidence you have that clearly suggests I have multiple aliases Samuel, if you think that I am deceitful then why not contact PN & ask them to review all the postings on this & other threads.

            Having had to endure the multiple postings of caped crusader & his multiple aliases, PN will take action if they believe it to be the case.

            By all means believe what you will, but if you are gong to make such allegations please provide the evidence to back up your assertions!

            Innocent until proven guilty I believe, I await your further response!

  26. There are two things at play here.
    1. Groups of men who feel that HIV is not such a big deal anymore and would rather just catch the virus and feel free to practice barebacking, than to constantly worry about catching it and wearing condoms.

    2. The fact that the HIV groups around the world, in order to “de-stigmatise” HIV, have in fact, made it out to some, to not be that big of a deal to get.

    There are also the “bug chasers” out there, but they are in fact in the minority.

    If you want to lower infection rates, the only way to do so, is unfortunately, to make HIV out to be a death sentence and a big deal. Something nobody would ever want to catch.

    I know a few on here won’t agree with that, but it’s reality. The figures back it up. Just the fact that these “campaigners” are concerned about increasing infections, really just shows that HIV is still a big deal and not as harmless as they make it out to be. Of course, most positive men will tell you that anyway.

    1. I don’t necessarily see that de-stigmatising HIV collates with people or organisations saying living with HIV is a walk in the park. I don’t know anybody who is positive believes it is easy to deal with, myself included.

      HIV is not the death sentence that it was, ARVs have played a huge part in that. Perhaps if HIV was the death knell, there would less people who would be getting infected, but thankfully we will never know.

      1. I’m sorry to refute you there. But HIV has never been a death sentence in itself. AIDS is the death sentence. To an extent, globally it still is for many. HIV also still damages immune systems. It still leads to AIDS and people still die.

        What you are saying is exactly what the problem is. Too many people think like you. That HIV is not the death sentence that it was and that ARVs make HIV somewhat a walk in the park.

        Each positive person responds to medications differently. I can assure you that not every positive person, who is newly diagnosed, is put on a one pill a day regimen. There are some who are fortunate enough to never get sick, those who are called “non progresses”. There are, however, still many, even in the western world who cannot afford medications and there are still some (myself included) who have mental health issues that make adherence to ARVs difficult, if not impossible.


        1. What we don’t see on TV, are ads that downplay how serious driving while drunk, texting or talking on a phone is. We don’t see ads downplaying the danger of speeding, taking illicit drugs or smoking. We also don’t see ads on TV showing that Cancer is as manageable as “diabetes”.

          What we shouldn’t see is ads anywhere around, making HIV out to be something that can’t or won’t harm you anymore than flu or diabetes. It’s a dangerous virus. It shouldn’t be toyed with and what needs to happen, is the “fear of god” needs to be placed into negative people. Fear is the only way to get a message across to the masses.

          Telling them it’s no big deal anymore, only results in complacency. HIV infections rates rise (which they have done in all western societies) and those who should know better sit around scratching their heads wondering why.

          1. No one has suggested that HIV is not a serious illness here Richard, or that it should be downplayed – if you read my postings I have presented a dilemma that exists these days – how do you deter MSM from taking undue risks with their sexual health, & at the same time avoid the truth when it comes to the great advances in HIV care & treatment. You seem to suggest we must be deceitful & paint the bleakest picture about HIV in order to scare people into looking after their sexual health – how is that ever going to help, when the cat is out of the bag, the death rate from HIV in the UK is extremely low, & sadly many of those deaths are related to late diagnosis.

            We need to engage with MSM using positive methods rather than resort to cherry picking the very worst aspects relating to HIV; I am not prepared to have people discredit HIV care here in the UK & in doing so undermine the confidence for those living with HIV, I refuse to be portrayed as a diseased individual with no hope!

    2. There is also the point to be made, Richard, that in order to destigmatise something, short of conditioning an entire population which just ain’t gonna happen, the only other solution is to normalise it so that it becomes the prevailing condition.

      This is what occurred several years ago in San Francisco wherein a positive status went from being a minority condition to the prevalent one, and negative men began seroconverting simply in order to fit in and not feel isolated due to the reverse stigmatisation that began occurring.

      Indeed this frightening scenario was depicted in a 2003 film documentary called The Gift by Louise Hogarth, which chronicled the phenomenon of deliberate HIV infection.

      Before W6 wades in to decry the “myth” of bug chasing, the documentary is up on You Tube for all to see:-

  27. In London last summer I saw very few condom ads or THT information on safe sex. Porn every-where in gay venues with little emphasis on condoms on the abundance of erect dicks. Reminded me of the 70s and when we got a STD we were always confidant an anti-biotic would be readily available. Those days are coming to an end as anti-biotics are not keeping up with the evolution of bacterias ect. Aids changed those of us who watched and nursed our lovers and friends. THT should “rise” to these new infections and do what it is meant to do, educate and show what Aids can do to the body. But even when I was a “buddy ” in the 80s and 90s in London THT were not concerned with those of us on the front-line and when I saw the sir being bestowed it confirmed my frustration at the organisation back then.

  28. As predicted an important thread has turned into farce…………..seems to me there is an anti THT lobby developing here on PN, but one wonders why PN does not moderate these threads to ensure all posters are genuine!

    Such a shame that we never get to debate the real issues rather than THT, once again Samuel B. has stymied good debate……….how totally shameful

    1. How dare you W6!

      You lose the debate (again) so you resort to inferring I’ve formed a lobby to speak out against THT?!

      I hope all contributors to this thread can see what we’re up against when those who deny the common sense measures needed to sort out the mess the HIV sector has created are the same ones who use disgusting and dishonest tactics to diminish and denigrate the majority of us demanding change.

      FYI I’ve never met Eddy, Spanner, jako, Gazza, Paul, JD, Robert in S. Kensington and all the many others, most of whom are stalwart contributors to these threads and with whom I disagree on many subjects to the extent that I’m most certainly not “in” with any of them.

      Need I remind all, W6, that on other recent debates you’ve resorted to using a multitude of aliases – …westie… being the most recent – in a vain effort to engineer/distort consensus, and you were caught red-handed each time as you forgot to change your alias name while switching from guise to guise?


      1. I think you can point to one posting where I used the username …westie… which was clearly me as my avatar was displayed.

        Me thinks the lady doth protest too much but as neither of us can prove who is being deceitful I am very sure that the readers will make their own judgement, sadly you have a reputation for bullying tactics in order to divert and stymie debate.

        Let us not forget your recent outrageous attempts to give your “friend” false hope by suggesting HIV Dr’s here in the UK had mis-diagnosed him, & had put him on ARV’s even though you claim he didn’t require them. You also have posted HIV denialist propaganda in relation to HIV testing, do you want me to carry on describing your under handed subversive tactics?

        Enough from you, as always you spoil good debates with your disgusting attacks on HIV charities, you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself!

        1. It is a shame you are ending this debate by resorting to dirty tricks and underhand tactics, W6.

          I have been truly impressed at how you have fielded yourself in this debate despite the onslaught of criticisms of your beloved HIV sector that have been relentlessly hurled your way.

          You have made quite a few mature and insightful postings that have certainly provided some pause for thought, but you then undo all your good work by resorting to smears interlaced with schadenfreude and the usual assorted aliases.

          That is no way to debate and you ought to know that by now, just as these debates have enabled you to add a pantheon of clever words to your vocabulary such as “stymie”, “methinks”, “hoist” and “petard”.

          Erm, fail!

          1. Errrr what a pompous & self indulged individual you are Samuel, giving me your critique, I think you are deluded in your self-importance.

            You are the individual always monitoring reds & greens, always suggesting there is conspiracy & above all always doing your upmost to discredit me.

            Your views about me are not important, but what I do object to is your constant intervention that always dominates HIV debates, it seems obvious to me that you are deliberately targeting THT & are here to be an anti-pharma lobbyist. These two subjects are consistent in every HIV related thread.

            I think it is obvious to any one who is interested that you are trying very hard to ensure positive individuals like myself do not have a voice here on PN, shameful & very distasteful.

            As I always say I am not here to make friends so you will have to do much better to try and silence me! You have no shame & are not to be trusted, pure troll through & through, disgraceful!

          2. Sister Mary Clarence 18 Feb 2013, 4:56am

            “but what I do object to is your constant intervention that always dominates HIV debates”

            Pot? Kettle?

            W6 – you are a bully, simple as that. Just a bully.

            People have different opinions from your. They are perfectly entitled to do so. You need to stop acting the the HIV Though Police.

            Your behaviour is pig ignorant

          3. That’s rich coming from you SMC, from my experience you always add your two penneth worth & have consistently had a pop at me – yet never contribute to the substance of these important debates, an opportunist who has no real interest other than to score points – you should be ashamed of yourself!

          4. Do I detect a victim in full throttle, here?

            “Oh poor pity me, whinge, whinge, etc. etc.”

            Not a pretty sight.

            Oh do grown up, W6, and take responsibility for the ire you and your various aliases attract, and which you/they attract for very good reason.

            As the good Sister says, pot, kettle, black.

            A good long look in the mirror, therefore, would be a good place to start.

          5. Sister Mary Clarence 18 Feb 2013, 11:00am

            W6, in response to your passive aggressive posting directed at me. Its not that I am having a go at you, but I vehemently disagree with your views and I think you express them in a hostile and bullying manner, seeking to humiliate those who disagree with you. As a volunteer for THT, which you go to great lengths to advertise, even using their logo on your twitter site, you could scarcely be a worse ambassador for their work. If I was running the Trust I would have grave concerns about the impression of the organisation you create with your behaviour – certainly not the warm and caring organisation I would imagine they would wish to be perceived to be.

            At every opportunity, I (and I suspect manner others) feedback to THT my opinions on their education and outreach work, and it makes no difference whatsoever.

            They have chosen the path they want to take and are as blinkered about it as you.

            The results speak for themselves.


          6. Oh do keep up SMC – I no longer volunteer for THT & havn’t done for a few months now. As for my twitter account my avatar is a photo of me with a THT Twibbon attached to it, rather than the THT logo as you seem to suggest.

            If you feel that my postings are at all aggressive I suggest you use the report button, or if you feel that strongly why not contact PN & ask them to review my postings & have them removed from the thread if they are in breach of the terms & conditions of use of the comments pages.

            I suggest you are the one adding petrol to the fire here by deliberately bating me!

          7. As I have already suggested, W6, take a good had look in the mirror and you may discover that the only person baiting you here is…yourself.

            Indeed, something of a master baitor if you ask me.

    2. W6_Bloke, there is no ‘lobby’ here merely a consensus amongst many ordinary gay guys that THT are failing us.

      How dare you suggest that we are bogus posters, when in fact we are the ones pointing out the huge elephant in the room.

      1. Rather than waste your time backing up the THT troll why not get off your backside & do something constructive – all the energy that is expended here on PN would have changed HIV prevention policy several times over had it been correctly harnessed, & that is just in this particular thread, let alone the 3 yrs Samuel B. has been bleating on & still not doing anything to bring about change.

        Just like Samuel I note you have not answered my direct question, the truth will out as your namesake always says!

        On yer bike sunshine…………& pedal hard!

        1. I think you might be taking this a little too personally W6. It’s not all about the THT. In fact, I say that just about all HIV/AIDS organisations are complicit in the increase in HIV transmissions in western society.

          If you look at Queensland in Australia, the state Health Department withdrew funding from QuAHC (the local HIV body) because of the rise in infections. And rightly so. There has to be value in the money spent. If you’re not getting reductions in infection rates, then there’s obviously little to no value. There’s also a broken link somewhere between the organisation and the general community it’s trying to talk to.

          This has to be investigated. We have to work out what went wrong, and rather than just stating the bleeding obvious, doing something about it.

          1. Of course I am taking this personally Richard – Samuel B. has spent 3 years trying to discredit HIV treatment & care here in the UK, he peddles utter rubbish about THT, GMFA, NAT & he has gone out of his way to bully & discredit me – sometimes one had to stand up to these fools, so yes I am not at all ashamed to say I do take it personally.

            Perhaps if more gay men were passionate about thier health then we would not see quite so many new cases of HIV here in the UK.

        2. Sister Mary clarence 18 Feb 2013, 4:51am

          Do something constructive?

          What are you suggesting?

          Should we all write to the Department of Health or our MPs to let them know how p1ssed off we are with the continuing failure of THT to address HIV infection rates?

          Should we ask that future funding is parceled up into smaller packages to ensure that the tender process is more viable for smaller locally based organisations?

          You seem to be the THT expert, so pray tell, what should we do to stop people needlessly dying while those charged with preventing the spread of HIV run workshops for escorts on PAYE and NIC?

          1. That is exactly what I am suggesting – if you feel so strongly about HIV prevention then take an active role & try to make a real difference, rather than waste your time here reading all this drivel.

            It is all very well protesting on these comments pages & having your usual pop at me (as always very late in the day I note) but bleating on here don’t solve anything does it?

          2. “if you feel so strongly about HIV prevention then take an active role & try to make a real difference”

            You insist on missing the main point entirely, W6.

            It is not the likes of us who hovver vulture-like over the HIV prevention budget each time the contract is renewed for another 3 years.

            Give US £6m and I daresay a consortium of good people on this thread demanding value and results from the HIV prevention budget – and who you constantly sidestep every time to avoid the main issue by demanding that THEY get off their backsides and do something – would be able to HALF the rate of HIV’s spread among gay men within 5 years!

            It’s no good using that trick anymore, W6:- it is THT that pockets the loot designated to reduce HIV rates and then squanders and misappropriates it at will on insane back-to-back “Test At All Costs” and “Update Your Status Today” initiatives plastered everywhere at the expense of campaigns that serve as a genuine deterrent to acquiring HIV in the first place.

          3. I suggest you phone your boss Samuel & tell him you need to take the day off (you have in the past admitted to such actions in the past) – if you wish to continue to bait me then be my guest I am more than happy to exchange insults if that is what you wish to do; I am more than willing to stand tall in the face of undue criticism; I am more than happy to put forward reasoned arguments to answer any of your many obscure points – you carry on sunshine, waste your time if you must, I am determined to prevent you having a free reign to peddle your anti THT & Pharma Co conspiracy theories.

            I am more than happy to engage in reasoned debate that has at least some origin in the material facts – all we get from you is headline, no substance & a great deal of overblown rhetoric – is this surprising with your right leaning political views & the privileged micro-bubble you live in?

            So carry on I’ve all day if you want to waste your time!

          4. I do not have to phone my boss to take the day off, W6.

            The fact that I work in a major fashion emporium in a large Central London department store will not deter me from fending off your bullying and intimidatory tactics on these boards.

            Especially when said boss gifted me with a brand new Mini iPad for my Christmas bonus which has enabled me to make, admittedly discreet, contributions to these forums throughout the day as opposed to outside of 9-5 hours.

            So are we to assume that you are fully-paid up to patrol these boards by those whose interests you are clearly serving here?

            Either that or you seem to have an awful lot of time on your hands or are making your universally unpopular postings here at the taxpayers’ expense.

            So, which is it, W6?

            Some transparency and a declaration of your self-interests would shed considerable light on the enormous blind spot that no one else on this board suffers from.

          5. Why would I feel the need to be transparent with you Samuel, I did wonder who long it would take you to make remarks about my emoyment status, & how I arrange my time.

            What does this have to do with the story as published to which this comment page is attached?

            My my first an iPhone now a mini iPad no wonder you are able to have so many aliases with all those devices to hand.

            Have not got any posh customers to go & bow n scrape to, or is business a bit slow today?

          6. Just this once, W6, would you kindly refrain from judging everyone else by your own standards?

            At least you have explained the two red thumbs that instantly appear against every contribution to these boards not posted by yourself, thus explaining the paradox behind one of life’s, up till now, eternal mysteries.

          7. Coming from you that is priceless – you are constantly making (incorrect) judgements, what you don’t know you make up Samuel!

            As I predicted this thread has once again become about you & I….you will not change my views on HIV care, treatment & prevention in the UK. You will not change my views or my support for THT, & all the other HIV charities.

            The problem I have with your argument is that 90% of it is inaccurate & has no basis in material fact, that is why we will never be able to have a decent debate – I get that you dislike THT, we all know that by now, why do you always make HIV stories all about THT? The real issue reported in this story has been lost & has once again been degraded by both of us. I did try to restrain myself, but as always you antagonise me with your cheap shots & cowardly antics

            You show many classic signs of being overly anxious about HIV & an irrational fear of contracting the virus, I suggest you deal with it rather than direct your frustration @ me!

          8. YOU refers specifically to you Samuel B. It is refressiog to learn that you are following current stories regarding HIV, but as always you have cherry picked a particular quote to suit your argument.

            I have referred to the content of this article earlier in this thread when I was commenting about the commissioning of prevention services.

            I am very pleased that London Councils are going to ensure commissioners do a good job for London, however I note that you believe London is over-served currently. I am as always left wondering exactly what your views are as you seem somewhat confused when putting forward your arguments.

        3. I wouldn’t call you a THT troll W6 but you do seem to have an unhealthy and unquestioning devotion to the trust.
          I haven’t answered your question about my medical history because that is a private matter and discussing pharma induced diarrhoea is not that much fun.
          Unlike you I am not a regular poster on these pages and I naively thought that engaging in public discourse with my community _was_ a constructive first step.
          I haven’t a clue what you are on about concerning namesakes, truth, and bicycles, but I think you might need a cup tea dear.

          1. W6 also has an extremely unhealthy devotion to awarding two red thumbs each time someone posts a message that conflicts with his given HIV sector PC groupthink consensus.

            PN’s vote system is supposed to only allow one person one vote yet it is W6 who has the audacity to accuse others of lobbying and adopting counter aliases when it is he who is blatantly bypassing and rigging this system!

            I say attempt, of course, because the weight of opinion is so clearly against his narrow perspective that his two red thumbs are always quickly obliterated by the green thumbs that invariably follow.

            W6 will of course now follow with a hasty rant about how it is I who is obsessing over the PN scoring system when I am merely observing how transparently low he is prepared to stoop to gain some support.

            Yet it is only through rigging the system itself and adopting a welter of aliases – s”…westie…”, “Charles” et al – that is providing his own engineered consensus!!

          2. Unlike you Samuel I do not seek comfort from a voting system that is not secure, I do not seek to validate my opinions by developing a consensus opinion that requires other people to agree with me. You can carry on making these bogus allegations – I suggest you contact PN and ask them to remove any duplicate identity postings made from the same IP address, or ask them to remove all my postings if they believe I am breach of the terms & conditions of the comment page use.

            Put up or shut up Samuel, prove to the other commentators that your allegations are correct – if you can’t do that then I suggest you don’t waste any of your time, as I say I have all day if needs be!

          3. See what I mean?

    3. But was not THT established for all, to educate, advise and support W6 ? So why are the infections rising, is it because this better than ever Educated IT generation don’t care for them-selves let alone any-one else ? The THT safe sex posters I saw last year were more about graphics and design than reality. And the reality for many still with HIV is incredible restrictions on life style and suffering, which is now prolonged through-out longer lives.

      1. No avatar this time jako, that would suggest you are using a different email address………. how very odd! Some might accuse you of using multiple email addresses leaving you wide open to the charge of creating multiple aliases!

        1. Paranoid, W6? Much.

        2. Sister Mary Clarence 18 Feb 2013, 10:49am

          W6 you’re all but a paid employee of THT, no one expects you to agree when they get slammed, but please stop with all the bullying posts please

          1. You must know something that I don’t then SMC – yes I once volunteered for THT do you have an issue with that? If you think I am being a bully I suggest you look at yourself & also your chum Samuel B. he is well known for his bully boy tactics on PN. As I say to him, please carry on, I’ve got all day if you want to waste your time.

            If you have anything of value to add here then please do, if not then I suggest you are wasting your time as I am not about to change my views just to fall in line with the likes of you & Samuel B.

          2. W6 is not bullying anyone.

            His tone on this blog has always been measured.

          3. Gazza, with all due respect the definition of an online bully is someone who, having lost the debate, resorts to insulting and abusing those who make their points clearly and concisely whilst resorting to skullduggery and dirty tricks to bolster their stand.

            I happen to be reading about the disgusting bullying and intimidation of NHS whistle blowers who were bribed with large pay offs not to speak out against massive wrong doing and negligence.

            I have no doubt the likes of W6 stem from the same PC school of intimidation and bully boy tactics when it comes to suppressing the truth about the failures of the HIV sector.

            Indeed it is only because these forums are still fair and open that we can speak freely about matters that are of paramount importance as they affect all our choices every time we engage in sex with another human being.

            Yet you can be sure the likes of THT would love to control these forums, just as they hector and berate their own when they step out of line.

          4. “the definition of an online bully is someone who, having lost the debate, resorts to insulting and abusing those who make their points clearly and concisely whilst resorting to skullduggery and dirty tricks to bolster their stand”

            I think you are describing yourself here Samuel are you not? I am the second person you have consistently bullied here on PN, so I think it is only fair to suggest you have form when it comes to insults & abusing others!

            To be very clear Samuel, from day 1 when I joined these comments pages you have gone out of your way to attack me, occasionally stopping when I have posted something that resonates with you personally, such things being the risks associated with oral sex, most recently to clarify your understanding of HIV testing & for a time you even acknowledged that I know my subject area very well.

            Other than these 3 periods of “time out” you have consistently attacked me for daring to question your inflammatory inaccurate postings!

          5. Samuel B.

            Your comparison between W6 and the NHS abusers and bullies is seriously stretching credibility.

        3. No W6, It just did not work for me this time. I wanted to post my frog avatar but it did not work .I am not interested in playing games on such a serious issue but I wish you well.

          1. I agree with your sentiments entirely & thank you for your good wishes, likewise!


    When the man using
    As contraceptive the woman
    Become mad and crazy… this duo to the semen of
    Man is remaining In the CONDOMS
    And it was not ejaculated and dropping in
    Vagina of women there is not sweet taste for
    Sex meeting .
    Like that you are drinking tea or coffee with out
    Sugar the coffee or tea is not sweet it is bitter.

    Of man is like Sugar it make the coitus and
    Sex meeting sweet to woman
    The sex meeting
    Sweet With out
    When man is not Using
    In sex meeting with woman the
    Semen of man will Ejaculated and dropping and
    Falling in vagina of Woman then the semen is
    Absorbed by vagina wall and inter the blood
    Circulation and reached the brain
    Then the women mind become in a convenience
    Mood and good feeling she is not be a Madden Or Crazy woman

    To good enjoy and pleasure in your sexual live

  30. Funny, I did not expect this thread would take a turn, where my existence would be questioned. A bit too existential for me.

    Last time I looked, I am a gay man, over six foot, early 40s, positive for coming up for nine years, living in South London. I work for a University. I volunteered for THT for a year, though I got a bit disheartened by the whole experience and decided to leave.

    If that person sounds like some demented figment of W6’s imagination, that’s your own problem.

    Anyway, back to work.

    1. You just never quite know how things will turn out on Pink News lol!

      I did predict that Samuel B. would indeed suggest I was in fact having a two way conversation with myself – the guy does not trust his own shadow or the image he sees in the mirror, conspiracy is everywhere. Thanks for taking the time to re-affirm you are indeed an individual & not a figment of my imagination ;-)

      1. Having just found out the very sad news about “Stu” I am withdrawing myself from this comments thread as a mark of respect.

        Stu & I had some very lively debates, but he was always measured in his approach & was a very well respected commentator – he will very much be missed & my thoughts are with his family & friends at this very difficult time

    2. Apologies for my haste in this instance, Charles.

  31. An apology is due Samuel! I think you at least should withdraw your accusations of me having several aliases!

    If you insist on claiming that I post under several other names then you do need to provide proof of these allegations; all this animosity towards me is most disconcerting & does you no favours with other PN readers.

    I note that in several recent commentaries you have been totally out of step with consensus opinion – that is perfectly fine by me – please allow me the same courtesy.

    How often have you said that consensus is akin to ” PC indoctrinated group think”? I have an analytical / scientific mind Samuel, I use those skills to form my own opinions, you should at least respect that.

    You have stated that “I have the upper hand” when it comes to the technical aspects of HIV, perhaps if you read what I have to say you might learn a thing or two & be better prepared to debate in an adult fashion

    I am disappointed in myself that I have allowed you to antagonise me!

    1. “I think you can point to one posting where I used the username …westie… which was clearly me as my avatar was displayed.”

      – W6 (quoted, for accuracy, on this very thread)

  32. Having just read the very sad news about the passing of Stu, as a mark of respect I am withdrawing myself from this comments page.

    Stu & I had some lively debates, but he was always measured in his approach but there were times when we had very similar points of view.

    He will be very much missed

    1. No W6, you contribute a lot to our more serious thought and for that I am always grateful to people like you who encourage us to think out-side of our norm. I wish you well and hope always to read your well thought out responses on serious issues.

    2. Having re-read your attack on me above, I wonder whether with your new attitude of respect you might perhaps refrain from being aggressive to new members of these forums W6. That would be more than gesture.

      1. I am more than happy to apologise to you Iain, but it is a case of “welcome to my world” – I was greeted by the very same combative & aggressive approach when I first started posting, it seems that I have also fallen into the same trap that other more seasoned commentators have fallen into!

        PN for not for the faint hearted in my experience – I have been truly shocked by the level of animosity that has been generated on these comment pages – yes I will hold my hand up & say I am sometimes as bad as others. Samuel B & I go back 3 yrs & over those 3 yrs he has chosen to focus his anger at me in particular – as a result I have defended myself & we are where we are, he dislikes me & I intensely dislike him!

        He sees me as the face of THT – just because I volunteered for them, so naturally I have become the focus for anyone who hates THT. I will defend any organisation where lies are being deliberately peddled, THT are not perfect but neither are they corrupt which is often suggested!

      2. I would also add Iain, that I have had to “serve my apprenticeship” here on PN – there seems to be a pecking order & I have been more or less told “your sort are not wanted around here” – I have had my use of vocabulary, spelling & grammar questioned, my postings have been described as “monotonous” & “Dalek like” – apparently I look like a Dalek, (as I am a bit rotund) & I have no heart just like a Dalek. These are just of the more amusing terms that have been attributed to me. I have retaliated, I’m no angel!

        I think the worst insult was speculation on how I contracted HIV, it has been implied that I was “obviously reckless & not taking the care I should have been” or words to that effect. I found that comment totally unacceptable, & sadly that has coloured how I sometimes react here on PN.

        I suggest you get ready to develop a thick skin, because in my experience unless you are very much of the same opinion as some of the elder PN commentators you might need it!

        1. If you are interested in contributing to an HIV online forum then you could look at There is plenty of useful information provided by people living with HIV, it is a very supportive & welcoming forum (it does have it’s slight flash-points) but it is very much more supportive than the comments pages here! It is managed by THT, funded & by EJAF – the level of input from the moderators is minimal as it is not often required.

      3. W6, it you think it is all about you then you are sorely mistaken.

        For the record it is just two years since you ventured onto PN’s boards:- the archives will show I have been a debater on the topic of HIV prevention long before you decided to pitch in.

        You are also sorely mistaken to assume I dislike you.

        Just because we differ in opinion where HIV prevention is concerned is no reason to dislike someone.

        Indeed I am sure there are more things we do agree than disagree on.

        It is fair to say we are never likely to be aspiring bedfellows, but please do not assume because you dislike someone so vehemently they will automatically dislike you back.

        You have long made me out to be the green-eyed monster on these boards when all I am guilty of is caring passionately about the health and well being of my fellow gay man having seen too much death and suffering in one lifetime.

        Please try to be more careful and selective with your choice of words in future.

        Thank you.

        1. With all due respect Samuel I have just described what my experiences of contributing to the comments pages……… you well know there is a great deal more I could mention & none of it is particularly pleasant on either side.

          I have just reviewed this thread and a few others & I note that the majority of the comments made by individuals who have disclosed their positive status more often than not get voted down, not just myself but also Jock & more recently Charles………sadly I do not think this is just coincidence, I have long felt that those of us who are open & honest about our status are treated rather differently by several regular posters on PN.

          My view is not helped by your use of the phrase “the right of negative gay men to stay negative” If you cannot see how this might be perceived as rather inflammatory then perhaps you should ask a good friend to review your postings…….just saying!

          1. If positive men are marked down then I would assume it is because they are airing opinions that the majority of people in some way don’t agree with.

            I am negative and get voted down on other threads all the time but I developed a back bone and will not be swayed by majority consensus simply in order to fit in.

            Let me just remind you that I am possibly the least discriminatory person towards positive people you could meet:- I vehemently oppose the reasoning behind those who reject positive people sexually for the blatant apartheid it is.

            And just as you would rightfully demand the right of positive men to not be stigmatised, I will always do likewise for negative men to receive a decent level of education and information they need in order to make informed choices about protecting their sexual health.

            Indeed I would go so far as to say that in a civilised society that should be a basic human right, which young gay men today are being deprived of.

          2. I totally agree with what you say regarding “majority consensus”, however I am a little amused with your double standard here Samuel I have to say. I’m not wishing to be provocative here, but you have often suggested that I must be incorrect in my many assertions, because my views are not those of consensus opinion here on PN, yet it seems ok for you to have views contrary to majority consensus, in fact you see it very much as a strength!

            I am left scratching my head over this puzzle ;-)

          3. I understand your point entirely, W6, but I think where the consensus with regard to HIV prevention is concerned, this is literally a life or death matter and most people at street level can blatantly see what has been wrong in its approach the past two decades and what needs to be done to correct it.

            The only people who refuse to listen and who are steadfastly following a business as usual approach where HIV prevention is concerned, ironically, are those within the HIV sector who have the power to change such methods but instead are working, almost drone-like, to a PC-at-all-costs directive emanating from central government, and they refuse to be swayed at any cost.

            I think there is an acute difference in what I have described here, W6, and being against consensus – as in thinking “outside of the box” – where other issues are concerned. :)

          4. My opinion will always be with the consensus amongst HIV scientists, clinicians & experts in the field of epidemiology across the globe.

            My worry for your point of view is that you will continue to be very disappointed & frustrated by HIV prevention in the future. I believe prevention is very likely to follow a test & treat model, particularly when the International Strategic Timing of ARV Treatment (START) Study begins to report results in a few years time.

            These decisions will be made based on cost/benefits considerations, particularly if we continue to see high levels of late diagnosis which not only adds to higher mortality rates, but also adds to the cost of treating advanced HIV which is reliant on a team of specialist input, greater clinical resources & inpatient costs to manage advanced infection.

            Perhaps I will be proven wrong, time will tell!

          5. This is a most worrying development, W6.

            Have you thought out what you are saying here?

            You’ve all but declared your stand by dismissing all notion of a practical approach to HIV prevention in the form of impactful condom/safer sex campaigns by singing up a “test and treat model…based on cost/benefits considerations” on the basis that we “continue to see high levels of late diagnosis which not only adds to higher mortality rates, but also adds to the cost of treating advanced HIV.”

            That’s an awful lots unknowns where this new “model” is concerned, and you even infer it may be proven wrong in time.

            So, gay men’s sexual health is now hanging on the roll of a dice, with practical measures that could half HIV overnight ignored in favour of an untried treatment-based approach?

            You may well be sorry if proven wrong, W6, but by then those who pushed for this high-risk strategy will have lmoved on and no longer be accountable for its implementation.

            Job done in other words?

          6. I am only suggesting what I believe the direction of travel sees to be – as I am not at all responsible for designing, implementing & evaluating HIV prevention measures I am not sure why you seen so enraged by what is just my opinion?

            Just because this is my opinion does it mean it will happen?

    3. W6_Bloke

      I don’t think your knowledge, insights and experience are put to their best use on PN comments pages, particularly as you seem to get “mobbed” when you post here on HIV issues.

      There are posters who have strong views about how THT should be, and should have been, conducting their work. I am not well-informed enough to comment on this with great confidence, even though I do feel strongly that there should be much greater efforts made to publicise the risks of HIV transmission and to stigmatise unsafe sexual practices. I don’t know how much limited finance or social taboo impede this, or to what extent, if any, it is because of THT’s approach.

      Regardless, I think that many people – both the worried well without HIV, and people living with HIV, would benefit greatly from your advice, support, and reassuring manner. I think that your time spent responding to antagonists on PN would be much better spent working on helplines or face-to-face with people in stress.

      1. And how do you define what being an antagonist is, Gazza?

        For me you sum that up in your very last sentence, because you have provoked me out of anger to respond to your attack on just about everyone on this forum who have by and large posted concise and eloquent responses to W6, and on many occasions not receiving the same level of courtesy and respect back.

        Why not offer W6 some truly practical advice that could perhaps try to open up his mind from his rigid, “this lady’s not for turning” mindset when debating diametrically opposed viewpoints?

        Just these last few minutes whilst surfing the online news sites during my lunch break, I stumbled across this article on The Huffington Post from which I am sure a good few of us – W6 included – could do well to learn from:-

        And I offered that link, Gary, as practical advice in a non-antagonising manner:- perhaps something you yourself can now learn from.

      2. Thanks for your very supportive & kind comments; sadly I have always found PN comments pages to be highly combative & particularly hostile to HIV Charities in general, with THT very much in the firing line.

        There seems to be a consensus of opinion that THT has the sole responsibility for reducing HIV incidence, but the reality of the situation is that the NHS has an equal if not bigger role in helping reduce new infections.

        HIV / Sexual Health is underfunded both in the NHS & the third sector, so what we are getting is watered down approaches to prevention, & have done for many years. The commissioning process is complex & no doubt tainted by political interference, so is it any wonder we are not seeing good quality campaigns that reach the many different groups they need to

        We now have generic campaigns because these are less expensive to run, & if the commissioners are not clear on what the outcomes should be & how that will be monitored the charities will never deliver

        1. On a personal level I am involved in Peer Education & Support, having volunteered for THT for the last 2 years I am starting a new project working alongside clinicians in a large HIV Directorate in the NHS.

          PN is a challenge for me, from reading past articles & comment pages it seems to me that for too long the voice of reason was absent, THT volunteers were referred to as “part of the rot” & many other inflammatory terms.

          It is true to say THT have lost the support if some gay men, & I have long called for this to be addressed. I am in the process of trying to figure out what THT can do to reconnect with gay men, but I fear as always funding will be an issue, that said perhaps there are ways around this if it is just a funding issue.

          Charity finance is complex, this is poorly understood by most people, THT has obligations to many of its benefactors who donated large sums in the early years of the epidemic to ensure the charity remains financially viable & is sustainable.

          1. You could perhaps persuade THT to sell up a part of their multi-million pound property portfolio – which they invested in with the millions in dowries bequeathed to the THT to be used in times such as these – since they are now claiming to plead poverty where HIV prevention is concerned, notwithstanding of course the £25 million in funding they Hoover up each year, as an excuse not to mount the considerable effort needed to once again get impactful and deterring messages across?

            Just suggesting…

          2. Claims have been made that THT receives up to £25million each year for the Government – this is very innaccurate, the last financial year was £13million, of which £5million was awarded & allocated towards the statutory prevention initiatives, together with funding for regional & local partners which THT work with as the main contractor.

            £5million is not a huge sum of money to provide prevention strategies directed at MSM & the African Community – I suspect the Sex & Relationships school contract funding may well be included in this £5million.

            In the current climate THT have used some property assets to continue to fund vital services – the profit of £743,000 in the last financial year will help support initiatives like THT Direct which had lost the £500,000 per year in funding cuts. When I read gross inaccuracies then I defend THT, because what is being peddled as fact is not. Anyone can view THT accounts, I don’t understand why these myths exist – it’s not rocket science!

          3. I cannot recall anyone ever suggesting that THT receives £25m each year from the Government, not here anyway.

            What I was inferring to was the total amount of funding it soaks up each year from a multitude of sources to the arguable detriment of other, smaller gay men’s voluntary charities that struggle to survive.

            Yes, THT’s annual cash bonanza is primarily coughed up by the taxpayer via the government but various other donors too (pharmaceutical companies included), as well as from gala fundraisers, World Aids Day events and so forth.

            I think I’m correct in saying THT’s turnover for the last reported tax year is near enough £25m?

            That is a heck of an income in anyone’s book, but many are of the opinion that the taxpayer is not getting the value they deserve in return for their hard-earned cash.

            It is time to evaluate pound for pound what the THT provides and assess whether the same amount of money would not go a long way further were it not a sprawling bureaucracy.

          4. The total income last year for THT was £20.3million of which £19.3million was spent – the balance being held over into the next financial year. The income figure includes the profit of £743,000 on the sale of property, with the remainder likely to involve grants from the likes of EJAF which had not been completely spent, this can be found in the restricted funds information.

            We have seen recently that a consortium which THT was part of were not successful in winning the contract to provide the national sexual health telephone service, which is now operated by Serco, which I think is evidence that the DoH were looking for the most competitive terms, so THT is not immune to scrutiny. We can debate the why’s & wherefores as to why Serco were successful, but I am sure they are not able to provide the high level of service THT employees are able to. I am sure Serco were able to undercut the cost of call handling infrastructure etc. The next few yrs will be interesting!

          5. Of course when Local Authorities take control the prevention funding throughout England they perhaps will favour local & regional charities over THT; they could also decide to spend their money with the likes of Virgin Healthcare & any “qualified service provider”.

            My concern is that monies for HIV prevention are not ring fenced as such, they form part of the overall ring-fenced financial envelope for public health; prevention could become very much more politicised with some Town Hall Chiefs preferring to invest in initiatives such as obesity, drug & alcohol services etc etc as they may think these are likely to be vote winners as opposed to be seen to cater for gay men for instance?

            I think we need to be careful what we wish for in this new age of commissioning led approach to essentially very complex social issues.

          6. I have to add Samuel that funding from the Pharma Co’s is very small beer these days. particularly to THT. Total corporate donations in the last financial year were £200,000 hardly a sum that is going to influence policy is it?

            There are 30 corporate donors shown in the annual accounts & include, ViiV Healthcare, Gilead, Barclays, EJAF, The Monument Trust, Heal'[s, Soho Estates, Joseph Rowntree, Recon the list is there for all to see.

          7. Thank you for your extremely illuminating and insightful breakdown of the THT’s income, W6.

            It’d be particularly useful to see what the upper echelons award themselves by way of salary.

            I fully understand your concern about the prospect of sexual health contracts now being awarded to local authorities and private companies, but surely the diversity of approaches this will enable may result in one contractor blossoming and establishing a proven successful working blueprint upon which all future contracts could be based?

            You appear to place your entire faith in THT yet in recent years it has come to be regarded as the Tesco of sexual health and has developed a near arrogant sense of entitlement where the awarding on these contracts is concerned.

            Could it not just be that those awarding said contracts have woken to the fact that whilst THT presents itself as the jack of all trades, it is to all intents and purposes a master of none?

            It is time for others to have a go now.

          8. I guess my view on companies like Virgin & Serco is that they have shareholders to answer to, they have to make a profit, which is not the case for charities, any reserves are kept within the organisation rather than going to pay dividends to shareholders.

            The use of contract cleaners within the NHS has, I believe directly resulted in the astonishing rise in hospital acquired infections, so I am concerned about the effect this could have on the quality of prevention services, but time will tell.

            To be clear Councils are being given the £ to spend on prevention, not the contracts as you seem to suggest. I really hope they get it right.

            There are no senior staff at THT paid more than £90,000 a year, the accounts show this very clearly – by comparison I am sure the CEO of Virgin Healthcare or Serco are paid much more than this.

          9. “I have to add Samuel that funding from the Pharma Co’s is very small beer these days. particularly to THT. Total corporate donations in the last financial year were £200,000 hardly a sum that is going to influence policy is it?”

            Well, it certainly depends which way you look at it.

            I do feel you have been a little disingenuous suggesting my reiteration in these threads of Big Pharma’s business model – to develop drugs that people are dependent on in order to secure big dividends for their shareholders – is conspiracy theory when it is really sound business sense.

            The pharmaceutical lobby is one of the biggest on earth with tentacles in all major western governments, where “salesmen” attempt to influence and persuade MPs and senators to legislate in their favour whilst enticing doctors and clinicians via financial and gift incentives to to push particular drugs in favour of others.

            The same lobbyists have also worked hard to penetrate HIV organisations throughout the west and…

          10. have seduced many with cash enticements and junkets to pharma-sponsored HIV conferences in exotic far off places in return for what can only be described as colluding to further the industry’s aims, whether benevolent or otherwise.

            It is frankly foolhardy bordering on absurd to deny such a conspiracy does not, cannot happen when THT itself was caught out red-handed in the 1990s embroiled in an illicit, under-the-table deal with Glaxo Wellcome whereby it pushed its failed chemo drug – the highly toxic AZT – to Aids patients in return for paybacks, accelerating the transition to death for many.

            It is not half so serious where these agencies are only in the business of providing services, but where they are also tasked to prevent the ongoing spread of HIV itself then it is frankly impossible to ignore the blatant conflicts of interest that arise when these organisations also have their hands outstretched for pharma donations and doors wide open for their lobbyists.

          11. This is my cue to leave you to it Samuel!

          12. Have I hit a raw nerve here?

          13. By no means have you hit upon a raw nerve, more a case of hitting the buffers. We have “debated” this many times. I am not of the view there is or ever has been a case of collusion or corruption with THT & Burroughs Wellcome, as it was at the time. I have tried to find sufficient supporting evidence to confirm your suggestions. I am also minded that the successive Boards of Trustees would have acted if any of the claims were proven. The Trustees are there to hold the executive to account & to ensure the organisation is managed to meet it’s obligations in terms of financial control & transparency.

            We have opposing views on this matter so I do not see what is to be gained by going over this argument once again. Of course, I am aware that no organisation is ever totally immune from the charge of collusion, it would be naive to think otherwise, as they say money makes the world go around – there are far bigger problems with our public institutions, perhaps it is a case of perspective?

          14. As an interesting aside with regard to salaries in the Public Sector – in my Local Council the Director of Housing & Regeneration is paid £126,000 pa (to sell off council homes, abolish the social housing register & making social housing a thing of the past) with the Director of Finance being paid £156,000 pa.

            One wonders what the Director of Public Health will be paid (who will be responsible for local HIV / STI prevention strategies from April) – it’s got to be somewhere between £125,000 to £150,000 me thinks. These figures to me are staggering so I think we get reasonable value out of the CEO of a major Charity for £90,000 who has long service to the organisation. Again it is a case of putting things into perspective ;-)

          15. I fully respect your opinion in this matter W6, but you must remember that this is a general news site that is open for debate from all perspectives.

            You have openly moaned that the way your views are respected on here isn’t the same as on the HIV forum that you host and dispense your information on, bordering on throwing your toys out if your pram – and I mean that in the least antagonistic way possible – when you complain to those who are more sympathetic to you how the likes of I and others have treated you on PN forums.

            I do get a sense that what all of this boils down to is that you have a mind-made-up-view with regards to HIV prevention and treatments and would very much like to control debate in your favour.

            What you find difficult to accept is that most average gay men do not share the same views and this often leads to you hurling a brickbat in someone’s direction which then rebounds back to you and you clearly lack the backbone to receive what you dish out…

          16. I’ve been greatly encouraged by recent progress we have made in getting a good dialogue going, and then you decide to bale out because I respond to your point about pharma funding of the HIV sector with 100% factual info that, ok, you may have heard before:- but in terms of the debate and for the benefit of anyone following this is info that’s relevant and a legitimate response to the point you were making.

            Turning hot and cold like this is no way to debate, particularly when it is because you say you’re tired of hearing the same points from me over again.

            Much of what you say I have also heard many times over yet I extend you courtesy by listening to the same stuff again when it’s in context with the point we’re debating.

            I do think that’s why people get so frustrated with you, W6:- you mean well but only want to steer debate to suit your own worldview on open forums such as this in the same way you have total control of your Twitter page and HIV forum.

            It just isn’t on!

          17. You are of course correct that my mind is made up with regards to the suggestion that THT has colluded with the Pharma Co’s, & I am not sure of the relevance this has in this debate.

            As it is only you & I now conversing do you not think it is pointless to go over our completely differing views on the role (if any in my opinion) the Pharma Co’s have on HIV incidence here in the UK.

            It is not simply a case of blowing hot or cold but one of “is there anything else to say on the matter”.

            Using one liners is hardly indusive to good debate, “have I hit a raw nerve” is rather an inflammatory phrase in my view, sadly my perceptions of your remarks are always somewhat tainted by experience.

            I make a very loyal friend but I am often unforgiving to those who antagonise me. None of us are perfect!

          18. All I hope to achieve by commenting here is to provide an evidence based argument, given that there is so much incorrect information about HIV in the public do domain I believe it is essential to provide a well researched opinion that is in keeping with what the experts in HIV science & clinical practice, which informs prevention interventions.

            For me, a factualy science based argument is a good basis for debate with regard to HIV, perhaps you prefer to take an experiential basex approach, each have their merits to differing degrees, depending on the subject matter.

          19. “For me, a factualy science based argument is a good basis for debate with regard to HIV, perhaps you prefer to take an experiential basex approach, each have their merits to differing degrees..”

            Very well said, W6 – of course each to their own!

            Yet even Gazza suggested you may feel happier focusing on your HIV forum and Twitter page than dazzling us “laymen” with science when you’re clearly out of your comfort zone on PN amid a welter of people expressing highly legitimate outrage toward THT for their, shall we say “slacking” in the realm of HIV prevention as opposed to words like “indifference” and “failure”, which you take such offence towards?

            But that’s the point, W6:- we shouldn’t have to nimbly and dilligently tiptoe around your feelings and stymie debate just because you find certain truths uncomfortable or awkward.

            You do yourself no service with your sob stories:- this is an open forum on which all views are rightfully aired.

            If you can’t stand the heat…

          20. I think your last sentence is very telling Samuel, & you have put yourinterpretation on the comments made by Gazza rather than take it at face value.

            It seems to me that you prefer to “debate” in a way which is extremely combative, frequently using inflammatory remarks & relying very heavily on “reading between the lines”. This creates a situation where other commentators either do not comment because they are likely to be heavily criticised, which then creates a vacuum for those who enjoy combative debate.

            It is natural for people to attack large organisations & it is just a shame that you cannot divorce your dislike of THT from the very valid points I put forward.

            I am very sure you would prefer it if I didn’t make any comments here on PN, preferring to prevent those of us living with HIV to have our say when it comes to any topic on HIV.

            As for not being able to stand the heat, I think you underestimate my tenacity & determination, I have very broad shoulders!

          21. Unbelievable!

          22. Would you like to elaborate or are we now to expect even less use of the one liners in favour or single word debating?

          23. You’re one major piece of work, W6, you really are.

            Trust me, what I elocuted above is not lost on most reasonable, nay right-thinking people:- only those without eyes to see and ears to listen, who see life via a selective filter and hear what only they want to hear, and who go tone when their delicate sensibilities are challenged to consider something, anything that conflicts with their indoctrinated and deeply ingrained groupthink agenda.

            The tragedy is that our sexual health is in the hands of people like you and your fellow foot soldiers at the THT who are blinded by PC and science while being completely devoid of heart and empathy.

            You really cannot see how the policies and agendas you push and the charlatans within the HIV sector you defend to your last gasp are the problem in all of this:- you most certainly are NOT the solution.

            And on that note, I take my bow and depart this board because trying to get through to people like you is like p*ss*ng in the wind.

            Good night.

          24. You really are a drama queen Samuel – how is the sexual health of gay men in my hands? Do you think I have influence with anyone connected with prevention policy, strategy or implementing prevention policy?

            I don’t recall ever making an announcement that I consider myself to be part of the solution as you claim. Given that you seem to suggest my views are totally out if step with the gay man in the street I really don’t think anything I suggest is going to have much impact do you?

            If any of my postings make people research HIV a little more closely then that has to be a good thing.

            I really do not understand you thinking that I have influence where clearly I have never suggested I have; this is yet another of your assumptions!

        2. “There seems to be a consensus of opinion that THT has the sole responsibility for reducing HIV incidence, but the reality of the situation is that the NHS has an equal if not bigger role in helping reduce new infections.”

          So is that why the Department of Health has awarded the multi-million pound Pan London HIV prevention contract to THT all these years?

          Oops forgive me for thinking it was handed over for the sole intention of preventing the onward spread of HIV!

          If it was not intended for the objective of preventing HIV since you are now claiming that was equally if not more so the NHS’s remit, then what the hell was it intended for, awarded as it was during a decade that saw HIV rates among gay men double?!

          So much for resigning from this thread and taking your frustrating, nay exasperating outbursts with you, W6…

          1. There are I believe 3 areas that impact on HIV incidence in the UK;

            1. Education – THT has no control over unless it has been awarded a contract to provide these services, where Local Authorities have decided to outsource the teaching of SRE in Schools.
            2. Charity Sector – This is work to provide National, Regional & Local awareness campaigns. THT probably receive the most of this income, but other charities, particularly in the North of England (Yorkshire MESMAC, George House Trust, Waverly Centre) to name a few all have a remit for Regional & Local prevention initiatives. THT often provide funds to such organisations to fulfill their Contract with the DoH. It is incorrect to say that THT receive all the Pan London £ the GMI Partnership, GMFA & other smaller charities are all funded by this £.
            3. NHS GUM Clinics have a big role to play in HIV/STI prevention – often the GU clinic is the best place to be able to have a 1 on 1 conversation with people who need advice / at risk.

          2. I believe your perception that THT receives ALL the prevention £ is incorrect, & therefore I believe it is incorrect to lay the blame for the flat-lining of new HIV infections that we have seen between 2000 & 2010 solely at the doors of THT. It may be fashionable to do so, but upon closer inspection I believe there is a wider issue involved here. Is any large organisation perfect? No – can THT be better, absolutely, which I am on record of posting here on PN.

            The wider problem is lack of funding for good quality School Education, salami sliced resources that are fiercely fought over by the charity sector & the inevitable cuts to the NHS. Add to this the very poor Commissioning arrangements & lack of joined up thinking by DoH, now defunct PCT’s, & what have you got, a system that is not delivering!

            All I ask Samuel, is that you research & then form your opinions rather than rely on newspaper headlines & the fashion to have a pop at THT, nothing is ever as it seems in my opinion!

          3. I would be very careful about what you post regarding the unfortunate death of Stu – that is all I am saying on that subject, other than to ask you to read back your own recent comments & ask yourself how they may be perceived by myself & others!

          4. The Pan London HIV Prevention Budget has been allocated to the following charities for particular contracts over the last few years:

            PACE & THT – Group Work
            GMFA -Website, Small media
            Camden NHS – Condom provision
            GMI Partnership – Health Trainers, Counseling, Mentoring & Resource Distribution
            THT – mass media
            London & Lesbian Gay Switchboard

            As you see there are several organisations involved in spending this money – should they not all have their feet held to the fire? The majority of the face to face interventions are run by charities other than THT – interesting me thinks!

          5. This particular programme has been very poorly managed by the PCT who was commissioning the work streams & supposedly monitoring the various contracts as let to the service providers I have detailed above. My understanding is that the contracts have been allowed to roll over in recent years because of a lack of joined up thinking & agreement between the Commissioners & the Service Providers – is it any wonder there has been no real downward movement on HIV incidence, truly shocking I believe.

            I am on record of highlighting this ridiculous situation (probably 18 months ago), but as always I was shouted down. Had commentators perhaps read what I was posting then a better understanding of the issues involved.

            It should also be noted that not all London PCT’s contribute to the Pan London HIV Project, again this demonstrates that HIV is not a priority for all the organisations involved in spending tax payer monies – this is my concern going forward, will Local Councils use money wisely?

          6. Thank you for your very eloquent and considered – not to say detailed! – response W6.

            A lot to take in but I look forward to responding in a similarly accordant manner to see if we can’t agree a consensus of sorts.

            It occurs to me you’ve a very influential platform which attracts the major players within the realm of the HIV sector among your Twitterati followers.

            You ‘could’ be using your unique position to alert them to the welter of opinion at ground level towards their approaches and priorities where HIV prevention is concerned?

            Indeed can there be any justification for them not to listen when some of their methods are so clearly out of synch with the common gay man?

            Still, good to have a restrained dialogue going again with you.

            Yes, I was extremely shocked and saddened to hear of Stu’s passing, which serves to remind all of us how we should live life to the full but in a way that respects ourselves and the betterment of others, hence the reason we are both here!

          7. “…I believe it is incorrect to lay the blame for the flat-lining of new HIV infections that we have seen between 2000 & 2010 solely at the doors of THT. It may be fashionable to do so, but upon closer inspection I believe there is a wider issue involved here. Is any large organisation perfect? No – can THT be better, absolutely…”

            Well, W6, I am pinching myself here, holding my breath and hoping against hope, but I can’t find a word here that I disagree with, and there is plenty we can agree on.

            Ok course THT isn’t solely to blame here:- the blame lies squarely with the government and the low priorities they give to sexual health education.

            My argument with THT, though, can be summed up quite simply:- they are ideally positioned to make a difference where HIV prevention is concerned, but as Sister Mary and many others have lamented, the main problem with THT is its “mum knows best attitude” and its refusal to engage with the common gay man.

            You mention becoming a THT…

          8. member and attending board meetings to make our points heard but it is not that simple when that entails getting to where the THT is at, finding the time to do so, and then facing the strong prospect of a shouting down for daring to speak your mind (as infamously occurred at a CHAPS conference several years ago).

            May I venture that the real disconnect here is that it is the THT which is not getting out into the communities and engaging with US to find out how we feel about the state of sexual health prevention today and how they can best tailor their methods and procedures to synch in more closely with our needs?

            There’s a real feeling that they are shut away in their ivory towers and totally detached from the realities of what it means to be a gay man in 2012:- it’s not the same environment as back in the 1970s when Nick was a young man exploring his sexuality in a pre-Aids era of moustaches and check shirts.

            If they engaged and debated with us then that would be a start.

          9. I agree that the disconnect between THT & gay men is concerning & is not helping younger gay men to engage with the work they are doing.

            We must all try to do much better & that means gay men becoming more vocal in a constructive way, lobbying MP’s holding Government to account – I am constantly writing to my MP & I have to say I always get a reply; if more did this then perhaps things will change.

            Getting involved doesn’t mean attending meetings, you can do a great deal from home via email & letters. Yes it seems futile but if we all think that nothing changes. We must hold those who represent us to account.

            I have had the misfortune to have to deal with Government Departments & Councils – it is frustrating & one has to be tenacious, business like & occasionally aggressive, but persistence has paid off – not just for me but others I have helped keep a roof over their head, or get the medical / social care they need

            Taking a passive role is not an option in today’s climate

          10. Despite my misgivings about the new NHS & Public Health arrangements coming into force in April there is a huge opportunity to get involved & try to shape service provision.

            I suspect my interest will be more involved with the Commissioning of HIV outpatient / inpatient services going forward, as the NHS Commissioning Board must be held to account – there is a huge variation across England in terms of service provision, my care should be the same as another +ve person in Leeds or Bristol, sadly at the moment that is not the case

            I want to be involved shaping the care & treatment +ve people receive, I want to empower & enable patients to be the experts of their care, as going forward there will be less emotional & social support, clinicians will do the basics, we as patients will have to pick up the rest

            You can do the same for prevention if you get involved & hold London Councils to account, make sure they commission campaigns & interventions you want to see, you can do it

          11. Very good points, W6, which I know you have emoted many times previously.

            Such an effort would require a co-ordinated approach utilising the power of social networking.

            As someone whose level of online interaction is limited to adding the two numerals required to have one’s opinion shared on these boards (hands up here, I do not have a Facebook or Twitter account, and do not have the time to immerse myself into an alternate social universe!), what we really need is someone with an established and well-respected platform and who possesses an intricate – not to say highly articulate – knowledge of the subject matter in hand.
            That and an indepth insight into the iniquitous shortcomings and downfalls inherent in not just the current system of awarding HIV prevention contracts but in the tone of the many campaigns over the years than have failed to make an impression on their target audience:- ie. us!

            Hmm, wonder who such a person could be?

            Any ideas?

            Might I also venture…

          12. venture to suggest that a core aspect of such action should be at pains to stress the fundamental dichotomy of a touchy-feely PC approach being applied, ostensibly, to the very serious issue of preventing the onward spread of HIV?

            Sure, such an approach utilising glossy, colourful campaigns and clever graphics may engage the five tangible senses, but on a deeper, intuitive (ie. subconscious) level they are demonstrably proven to barely register, being here today and gone tomorrow.

            The most successful awareness campaigns that do impact remain on the collective consciousness forever and, whilst they are certainly harder hitting, can be done in ways that do not evoke images of death nor stigmatise those with HIV.

            Today’s campaigns must be ‘souped up’ to a level that they impact without veering so far as to be considered shock tactics:- an approach that will require a good degree of creativity and collaboration with ordinary gay men to get right, but it can – and must! – be done.

      3. I would further add that were W6 to show even half the level of compassion and consideration toward the rights of negative men to remain negative through effective HIV prevention as he admirably bestows on positive men in guiding many through the maze of treatments towards the best possible options, then these debates would not become the drawn-out epics they invariably become.

        That is ALL most on here are asking for:- decent, effective HIV campaigning to educate the next generation of gay men properly so that we can turn this rapid tide of HIV infections around.

        We are talking about prevention from the acquisition of a killer virus here, Gazza:- it is only the drugs that inhibit the pace of HIV’s advance, and they are not an answer in themselves as they contain compounds toxic and alien to the human body.

        Why do you have a problem with the majority who are demanding this a common sense approach to our sexual health and well being, Gazza?

        1. Samuel B.

          “Why do you have a problem with the majority who are demanding this a common sense approach to our sexual health and well being, Gazza?”

          Please drop this vacuous, straw-man misrepresentation, and the patronising tone it carries, together with the paragraph that precedes it.

          The very reason why I regard you as an “antagonist” is encapsulated in the above. You give me the impression of someone for whom it is more important apparently to win an argument by clever verbal formulations (including misrepresentation), than of someone who is keen to listen, change others’ opinion by civil and patient persuasion rather than browbeating, and to modify his own position if appropriate.

          If I was someone with HIV, or someone who thought I might have accidentally got infected with HIV, I am sure I would rather be speaking to someone like W6 than to yourself. That’s why I have encouraged W6 to invest his energies into projects other than dealing with antagonistic commenters on PN.

          1. In which case, Gazza, you have chosen to deliberately, or ignorantly, overlook the entire point of this debate:- which is the reasons for lack of confom use that are blamed for the rise in HIV cases in gay men.

            It isn’t a debate or argument about who someone with HIV would go to:- it is about the reasons for this complacency in condom use and what needs to be done to reverse this worrying trend.

            Indeed I’d jolly well hope anyone who got infected, accidentally, would go to someone like W6 and certainly not the likes of me who’ve never, ever professed to having an intricate knowledge about this subject matter.

            Talking of someone “for whom it is more important to win an argument by clever verbal formulations”, why indeed don’t YOU get off YOUR high horse and contribute something meaningful to this debate as you did in your earlier postings before you decided to change tack and score a few high and mighty cheap points.

            Playing an antagonist in denial really doesn’t suit you.

          2. To be fair Samuel the headline used by the BBC, Guardian & PN has not been helpful, & the cherry picking of certain statistics is not helpful.

            The full study paper did not to set out to identify condom usage, but to model certain assumptions with regard to providing an analysis of the effects different strategies may have on HIV incidence.

            The small rise in condom-less sex over the last 20 years (a modest 9% point increase 35% in 1990 to 44% in 2010) may have had a bigger than expected positive impact on the effects of increased testing, diagnosis & treatment over the same period. As always the figures have been then out of context & poorly reported upon in my view.

            The model is important as it will inform future commissioning decisions about prevention methods – I think you will find testing & treatment will feature heavily in future, condom use is actually at high levels.

            I maybe wrong in my assumptions but commissioners will be increasingly looking at cost / benefits.

  33. northwestuk 19 Feb 2013, 8:57pm

    As a HIV+ man, I have to say my own experience of living with the virus and those I have met over the last 5 years, matches W6’s description. The medications are easily tolerated and I have blood tests once every 6 months. The stigma and discrimination is the hardest thing to deal with. Something which is very common within the gay community unfortunately.

    I think the real root of a lot of the increased HIV transmission in the gay community is a lack of self worth. I think plenty of people are educated about HIV and how it’s transmitted but some don’t have a high enough self esteem to protect themselves.

  34. PS: I couldn’t resist having the last word and notching up the 300th post on this epic forum.

    Erm, is this a PN record?!

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