THT urges gay men to take three steps to reduce spread of HIV
According to new figures released by the Health Protection Agency (HPA), in 2010 there were 3,000 gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV in the UK, the highest yearly figure since records began. This means men who have sex with men (MSM) made up 69% of all HIV infections acquired through sex in the UK that year, despite representing between 3% and 4% of the general population.
HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) is calling on the entire gay community to place a renewed emphasis on safer sex, and is highlighting three steps gay men can take to help reduce the spread of HIV on the scene:
1.Use condoms with every new partner, and continue using them until you’ve both been tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
2.Attend a full sexual health check up at least once every six months, and more frequently if you have a high number of partners or a symptomatic STI.
3.If you have HIV, visit MyHIV.org.uk to gain detailed information and advice on living well with HIV, including personal support from other people living with HIV through the community forums. And start treatment when a doctor advises – modern HIV treatment reduces onward transmission as well as lengthening your life.
To reinforce these actions, THT is launching a series of ‘back to basics’ HIV prevention campaigns. The first of these, ‘Smart Arse / Clever Dick’ (pictured), focuses on condom use and will run in gay venues and media throughout the winter months. The campaign was funded by the Department of Health through CHAPS, a partnership of community organisations, which carries out HIV prevention work with gay men in England.
Paul Ward, Deputy Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “These figures are a serious wake up call for gay men. Thirty years ago, AIDS devastated gay communities across the UK, but also gave rise to an unprecendented community response. Effective drug treatments have made it possible for someone diagnosed with HIV today to live a long, healthy life, but that doesn’t mean we can take our foot off the gas in trying to stop its spread.
“HIV isn’t happening somewhere else or happening to other people; it’s happening right now, and the people who have or are at risk of contracting HIV are our friends, our lovers, and the guys who work on the scene. They are the men you meet at social groups, in saunas, online or on the dance floor. HIV affects all of us and it’s up to all of us to stop the spread of HIV in our community.”
Other key findings from the report
In 2010, there were around 91,500 people living with HIV in the UK, of whom one in four remained undiagnosed and therefore more likely to pass the virus on.
6,660 people were newly diagnosed with HIV, and 50% of those people were diagnosed late, after a point at which they should have already started treatment.
MSM made up 69% of all HIV infections acquired through sex in the UK, despite representing between 3% and 4% of the general population.
In 2010, 39% of MSM were diagnosed late, after a point at which they should have already started treatment.
Over 51,000 HIV tests were performed among MSM attending STI clinics in 2010, representing between 8% and 11% of the MSM population in England.