Health study raises HIV worries in Bromley

Amy Bourke June 7, 2007
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A survey by the London Borough of Bromley has found that 40 per cent of gay men in the area have never had an HIV test.

The study of LGBT people was intended to establish their health needs. It covered sexual health, accessing services, drug use and alcohol.

It found that one third of respondents, both male and female, had not used any sexual health services in the last year, and nearly 40 per cent of males had never had an HIV test.

A spokesperson from the Terrence Higgins Trust said: “A third of people with HIV don’t know they have it, which is why it’s essential that anyone who thinks they might have been at risk of HIV goes to a clinic for a test.

“It’s estimated that as many as one in nine gay men in London have HIV. The best way to protect yourself against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections is still to practice safer sex and always use a condom.”

The survey also found that gay men and women in Bromley used nightclubs as the best place to access information, advice and support in regard to sexuality, and were least likely to get this information whilst in education.

The majority of respondents were openly gay and out to their friends, family and work colleagues.

Only 60 per cent of males and 40 per cent of females would report hate crime to the police.

80 per cent of males and 70 per cent of females drank alcohol, and nearly 100 per cent of respondents smoked, but had very little interest in giving up.

Across the country, gay men are more likely to smoke than their straight counterparts.

41% of gay men are smokers, a figure which soars above the national average of 25 per cent.

Researcher Adam Lott said: “The findings from this report…give us reason to be targeting work with this community in many ways and putting LGB health issues on the local agenda.

“Agencies and services do not always know how to or where to target their support services to a sometimes invisible community.

“Now we are able to let services know whether LGB people access their services and look at dealing with specific areas of health and respond to community issues.”

Mr Lott says that services such as Victim Support, drug and alcohol agencies and LGBT Liaison Officers in the borough are pulling together to engage with the community and fight homophobia.

The newly launched Bromley LGBT Community Forum is holding an event at local gay venue The Star and Garter on July 7 with entertainment from The Drag with No Name.

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