Author Archives: ukpositivelad
Today, May 17th 2013, marks the 9th annual International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) ((you may also have seen it written as IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia)).
IDAHO is a day where we should reflect on gay rights (or the lack there of) both home and abroad – something some of us can be guilty of forgetting about sometimes.
We have issues here the UK that’s for sure, we’re still fighting for the right to marry the person we love (the ball is rolling, but the fight is far from over) and 5 to 7 percent of the LGBT people surveyed in the UK say that homophobia is very widespread. But things are getting better all the time – one day we will have marriage equality, we will be seen as equals next to our straight brothers and sisters.
But our problems here in the UK pale in comparison to those abroad. In Uganda politicians are falling over themselves to progress their ‘Kill The Gays Bill’ which would, as the name suggests, enforce death penalties on people engaging in ‘same-sex relations’ and other penalties for those supporting these “deviants”.
Meanwhile in Russia the Moscow authorities have denied a request to carry out a ‘gay pride parade’ in the city. This apparently falls under “compliance with ethics” as to allow such an event would not be patriotic, it seems “Moscow does not need such events”.
We may live in 2013, we may have equal marriage in an ever growing number of countries including several US states, we may have cars that drive themselves and space tourism – but apparently it’s not alright for everyone to be who they want to be. That’s so sad.
This IDAHO please spare a thought for couples all over the world who’re having to conduct their relationship in secret for fear of persecution or even death, then get angry – together we can make a change. If you are one of those people, stay strong, hold out – don’t let people tell you who you can and cannot be – you have every right
Official IDAHO website: http://www.idahomophobia.org/
You may remember a week or so back I posted about a new HIV awareness campaign in England called ‘It Starts With Me’ – designed to educate people about HIV, how it’s spread, how it’s prevented and what they can do to fight HIV.
Well the campaign is really in full swing now, with events and awareness materials rolling out across England.
Yesterday I returned from a trip to Berlin with my friend Anthony to find a ‘It Starts With Me’ t-shirt waiting on my door step. So I popped it on and took a few snaps, you’ll probably see me at a few events up and down the country – including pride events wearing it, talking to people about their attitudes towards sexual health, testing and HIV.
Some quick HIV related facts from the It Starts With Me website:
- 1 in 4: The number of people with HIV in the UK aren’t aware that they have it
- 10 years: how much shorter your life could be if you delay testing
- 8 in 10: gay men get HIV from someone who doesn’t know they have it
- 25-29: the age group in which the most gay men test HIV positive
- 96%: Treatment for HIV can make you upto 96% less infectious to others
Please make sure to head over to the It Starts With Me website to find out more about HIV, and how YOU can stop it in its tracks.
As many of you who have been following my writings for some time now will know, I have frequently lambasted the UK Government, Department of Health and Health Protection Agency for failing to take any decisive action to curb the rising rate of HIV infections in the UK.
In recent years there’ve been numerous repetitive campaigns about cancer, stroke, mental health, alcohol, drugs, fruit & veg, exercise – even barbequed food, but nothing about HIV since the late 1980s. Well that changes this month.
24th April 2013 marks the launch of ‘It Starts With Me‘, a campaign created by The Terrence Higgins Trust and funded by HIV Prevention England (HPE), via the Department of Health, a campaign that will run (at least initially) for two years – until April 2015.
‘It Starts With Me’ is a campaign that will be delivered online, via the press, via posters/condom packs in venues and via local outreach teams. HPE will funding national and regional organisations to promote the campaign up and down England.
The campaign focuses on:
- Testing for HIV at least once every twelve months, and more frequently if they have taken a risk, or show symptoms of seroconversion illness.
- Taking the medication they need to stay fit and well, if they have been diagnosed with HIV.
- Protecting themselves during sex by using condoms and finding other ways to avoid risk.
- Participating in community action by finding a way to support the campaign and spread the word to their friends and contacts.
Make sure to check out www.startswithme.org.uk, the website for the campaign, and watch the short introductory video, which includes many interesting facts like 1 in 4 people in the UK with HIV don’t know that they have the virus, and that treatment is easier than ever and dramatically reduces the risk of you passing the virus onto anyone else.
It Starts With Me.
On June 16th 2013 I will be taking part in the Terrence Higgins Trust‘s ‘Walk For Life’. The aim of the walk is to raise vital funds for the HIV Hardship Fund.
Imagine for a moment that you’re HIV positive (if you’re not already), you’ve got plenty on your plate to deal with as it is right? Now imagine you can’t afford to feed yourself, your family, keep a roof over your head or afford warm clothing for the winter. Things are bad with the economy right now, most of us are feeling the pinch – but it’s those who are already in a bad situation who are hit hardest at times like these.
When I was out of work, was forced to move back home and at the same time dealing with my HIV diagnosis I felt like I had few people to turn to and even fewer options to take. The Terrence Higgins Trust gave me a helping hand with its HIV Hardship Fund and their counsellors threw me a lifeline via MyHIV.org.uk – so taking part in this event is the least I can do.
Please give what you can, every penny you donate will go to helping those living in crisis with HIV up and down the UK. There are no overheads being taken from your donations, as those are covered by the registration fees paid by walkers like myself. If you’re a UK tax-payer please remember to click the ‘GiftAid’ box too and the Terrence Higgins Trust can claim back 25p for every £1 you donate. Thank you.
You can donate by following this link: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ukpositivelad
Everyone who sponsors will get a shout out and a follow back on Twitter, and those who donate £50 or more will get a hand written thank you card from myself as a sign of my gratitude for doing such an amazing thing for others
All my love,
On a daily basis I get maybe thirty or forty emails from people reading this column or people visiting my website. Some are asking for support, others asking questions about HIV, a few are even hate-mail (the crazies are everywhere) – and an alarming number telling me that they’ve never had a HIV and/or STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) screening.
Of course I always handle these messages sensitively. I suggest that they should go and book themselves in for a full STI screening and even provide a link to the Terrence Higgins Trust website where they can pop in their
postcode and find a clinic near them. But the whole exchange often leaves me baffled and concerned. Many of these people are in their mid-to-late twenties – how they have got this far in life (presumably having sex along the way) and never having had a check up?
Is it simply a case of sticking their heads in the sand or is there something more going on here? Having spoken to some of them in more depth there’s definitely some ostrich like behaviour for sure, for some ignorance really is bliss, if you don’t know something is wrong then you don’t need to worry about it – but for others it’s a fear of the testing process itself, and this can only be due to lack of education around the topic.
Going for a STI screening really is not that big a deal. Honestly. I went for one only the other month (I go every six months – and so should you if you’re sexually active). Here’s what happened:
I arrived at the clinic at about 10am. I sat around watching Jeremy Kyle in the waiting room until I was called through by a doctor. They ask you a few simple questions:
Why’ve you come in today? “routine testing”,
Do you have any symptoms? “none”,
Any pre-existing conditions? “HIV-positive”.
After that I head back to the waiting room for a couple of minutes for a spot more Jezza (turns out he wasn’t the father). Then a nurse calls me through to one of the other rooms. She takes a couple of throat swabs (say “ahhhh”), a tiny swab from the end of my penis (it does pinch a little, but it doesn’t hurt), and a swab from my ass. Another nurse comes into to take a couple of vials of blood and then I’m given a little bottle to go put a urine sample in. I’m good to go. That’s it! takes about 45 minutes, one hour tops. They’ll text me any results in two weeks time.
(If I didn’t already know that I was HIV-Positive they would have also offered a HIV Rapid Test, which gives you a result in 15 minutes)
It’s incredibly important that each of us get regular STI screenings. Most sexual health charities recommend twice a year or more frequent if you’re more sexually active. Whilst you may not have any symptoms you may still carry any number of infections without even knowing it. I myself had absolutely none of the ‘flu-like’ symptoms often associated with HIV and only found out at one of my regular screenings.
Getting checked out doesn’t just mean that you’re looking after yourself, it means you’re showing respect and looking out for those who you sleep with – after all you’d hope anyone you slept with to have been checked recently, wouldn’t you?
So if you’ve never been checked out, or maybe it’s been far too long since your last test perhaps today’s good deed could be calling up your clinic and booking yourself in for a little MOT. Don’t know where your nearest one is – sorry, that’s no excuse. Head over to THT.org.uk and click ‘Sexual health’ to use their ‘Service Finder’ tool.
It made a nice change from chatting with them on the phone! I spoke about my big disclosure, the ‘functional cure’ story concerning 14 patients in France, my appearance on BBC World News and the first birthday of rucomingout.com
As before you can download and listen to the show in MP3 by clicking HERE
If you want me to appear on your show please don’t hesitate to get in touch using the contact page on this site.
As some of you know I’ve had some sad news over the last couple of days. I’m not one to let me get it down though, I mean I’ve had to deal with shit since as long as I can remember – and especially since I was 13. But I always bounce back.
This song, ‘Boomerang’ by Nicole Scherzinger, kinda sums up how I’m feeling at the moment. The tune is upbeat and the lyrics really hit home as well.
To those of you trying to drag me down, screw you – you’ll get yours I promise, karma is a shit.
Here’s to a excellent weekend in Manchester.
This Thursday (21st March 2013) is LGF’s ‘Sex Tips Live’ night at the Eagle Bar, Manchester.
Hosted by the handsome Martin Coops Cooper the night promises to be a fun filled affair in game-show format – it will test how much you know about sex, safer-sex and how to get the most out of your man! There’ll be fun, games and prizes – not to mention alcohol. Plus visiting hunks from Manhunt.net on the premises. Oh and I’ll be there – in leather. What’s not to like?
The bar opens at 5pm and the fun kicks off around. The fun and games start around 8pm. Entry is free.
Come along, you just might learn a thing or two
For directions check out The Eagle Manchester’s website
For more on the Lesbian & Gay Foundation (LGF) check out their site.
See you then,