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Groundbreaking new campaign encourages South Asian gay and bisexual men to get tested for HIV

Patrick Kelleher October 18, 2019
Groundbreaking new campaign encourages South Asian gay and bisexual men to get tested for HIV

Alexander and Mufseen (GMFA)

A new campaign from the Gay Men’s Health Project (GMFA) is encouraging gay and bisexual men from South Asian communities to get tested for HIV.

The campaign is called Me. Him. Us. and follows in the footsteps of an earlier campaign of the same name which encouraged black men to get tested.

Me. Him. Us. is also aiming to increase representation of gay and bisexual men from these communities, who are often underrepresented. The campaign will be advertised in London and across Britain from this month.

Being South Asian and gay is ‘a delicate balancing act’.

The campaign features a team of South Asian gay and bisexual men who are trying to make a positive contribution to their communities.

“Being South Asian and same-sex attracted can be a delicate balancing act,” Alexander Leon, one of the GMFA campaign’s leads said.

“For me, the clash of trying to observe cultural norms while navigating an emerging queer identity was a deeply isolating experience. It seemed impossible to stay true to my authentic self while maintaining a meaningful relationship with my loved ones whose culture or religion sometimes dictated intolerance.”

As Leon became more aware of his identity, he said it became “achingly evident” that there was a lack of representation of South Asian gay and bisexual men.

Me. Him. Us. is so important because it delivers a crucial message on HIV prevention to a demographic who sorely need to hear it.

Leon believes the campaign will serve a powerful purpose: it will encourage more gay and bisexual men from their communities to get tested while also showcasing less celebrated members of the LGBT+ community.

“Me. Him. Us. is so important because it delivers a crucial message on HIV prevention to a demographic who sorely need to hear it,” he continued.

Groundbreaking new campaign encourages South Asian gay and bisexual men to get tested for HIV
Ferhan and Vaneet (GMFA)

“What’s more, our deliberate choice to place campaign ads in LGBTQ+ social spaces around the country sends a clear message to any South Asian men feeling the particular sense of isolation that comes from simultaneously experiencing homophobia from your ethnic community and racism from the LGBTQ+ community – you, your identity, your life and your choices are valid.”

Gay and bisexual men from South Asian communities are more likely to be diagnosed with HIV.

Ian Howley, chief executive of GMFA’s parent group said it is important that South Asian gay and bisexual men have a platform to create change in the community.

“For far too long, these men are an afterthought or used in a tokenistic way. This version of Me. Him. Us. puts South Asian gay and bisexual men front and centre of a national campaign. That’s really important.”

Howley continued: “South Asian gay and bisexual men are more likely to be diagnosed with HIV and at a later stage too. It’s important that we increase the need for frequent testing for HIV and STIs for South Asian gay and bisexual men.”

More: AIDS, gay men's health project, GMFA, HIV, me. him. us., South Asian

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