Category Archives: Campaigns
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.
Well hello there,
This week I’m lucky enough to have a guest post from our favourite TV doctor and fellow Attitude columnist, the handsome Doctor Christian Jessen. In this post we won’t be discussing embarrassing bodies or healthy eating, but rather condoms – the simple tool for safer sex…
We all know that condoms offer us the best protection (98% effective when used properly) from both STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) and unwanted pregnancy, but are you sure that you’re using them correctly?
Don’t be so sure: a study of 1,400 teens by Southampton University found that 6% had put the condom on too late and another 6% took the condom off too soon.
Here are some simple DOs and DON’Ts to make sure you’re using your condoms properly:
- Only use approved latex or polyurethane condoms that bear the BS Kite mark.
- Make sure you have the right condom for YOU – just like penises they come in many sizes.
They can be measured for at home by you and ordered online to save any embarrassment.
- Check the date before you use it, out of date condoms become brittle and break.
- Make sure you have the condom the right way round BEFORE you apply it to the head of your penis.
- With one thumb and finger grip the tip of the condom to squeeze out any air, then use your other hand to roll the condom as far down as you can.
- Use a water or silicon based lube – this reduces friction and reduces risk of breaking the condom.
- If you’re having a long session consider taking a break and switching to a new condom.
- If you’re playing with more than one partner (lucky you) – use a different condom for each person. The same applies to sex toys, put on condom on them and change with every partner.
- Pull out whilst you’re still hard – making sure to hold the base of the condom.
- Throw it in the bin, don’t flush it.
- Don’t use an out of date condom – they can break more easily, and we don’t want that.
- Don’t bite condom wrappers open – you may damage the condom inside.
Remember that long nails can also cause damage to condoms.
- Don’t unroll the condom until you’re ready to roll it down and over your penis.
- Don’t use an oil based lube (this includes Vaseline and baby oil) – the oil weakens the condom and can lead to it failing.
- Don’t re-use a condom, this shouldn’t need saying but we’ll throw it in anyway.
- Don’t use two condoms at once – the friction between them can tear both condoms.
- Don’t use a condom and a female condom (or femidom) together for the same reason.
You can buy condoms at supermarkets, pharmacies and most convenience stores, if you’re too shy to do it in person why not order yourself some online from NHS Freedoms, and don’t forget that you can always pick some up for free from your local Sexual Health Clinic.
Doctor Christian Jessen
This morning my alarm went off at 7:00am, time to get up and make myself a coffee. I was on the radio in 30 minutes.
With their permission I’ve included an MP3 of the recording for you to download and listen to here! We touch on blogging, twitter, celebrities, HIV support and gay mugs. Check it out!
If you want me to appear on your show please don’t hesitate to get in touch using the contact page on this site.
Matthew Walters is the Gay Men’s worker and Health Trainer for Positive East, a vital HIV support charity based in East London. Today he’s telling us all the story his diagnosis and asking that you help support him in his latest challenge, climbing Kilimanjaro to help raise funds to provide essential services – and give back to a charity that has helped him find his feet again after diagnosis. Please read on…
5 years after my diagnosis in 2005, I found myself in quite a bad state. Being HIV Positive was making life difficult. Eventually, everything had started to get on top of me. Some friendships had been lost, and generally I was in quite a dark and depressing place.
I finally plucked up the courage to access support from a HIV charity. New to East London, I found myself knocking on the door of Positive East.
Positive East instantly offered me a wide range of support including Counselling, the Gay Men’s Support Group, Careers Advice, help with Housing and Hardship. I often used to pop in and use the gym and internet café which gave me an opportunity to keep active, make new friends and get on with my life.
Within a short space of time, I went from a place of despair to a bright and happy future thanks to the support that Positive East had given me. Grateful to the support I had received, in 2006 I wanted to give something back so started to volunteer for the organisation. In 2009, I started working for that charity and I’m still here today helping to give individuals living with and affected by HIV the support that I received 7 years ago.
I want to raise £5,000 by the time I set off next month, and I need your help. Just go to http://www.justgiving.com/
You can also follow Matthew on Twitter as: @HIVpozGayMan
Lots of Love,
Welcome to Monday morning! I hope you’re enjoy a cup of coffee, I’m on my third at this point.
What a crazy weekend that was, with gallery openings, World AIDS Day events, street collecting for the Terrence Higgins Trust in the freezing cold, speaking engagements and being interviewed on live radio to top it all off.
I got a call on Saturday afternoon from the producers of the ‘Double Take’ show on BBC Radio 5 Live, asking if I’d be willing to come on air for a few minutes to talk about my experience with HIV, and where I think we’re failing in light of the recent figures realised showing that in 2011 more gay men were diagnosed HIV+ than ever before.
I was in Milton Keynes on Saturday night/Sunday morning and had no way to get to a BBC studio, so had to conduct the interview from a spare room at my friend’s house over Skype. It was pretty brief but I think got part of my message across. HIV is manageable, but not curable and we can’t continue to be complacent. We need a widespread and mainstream ad-campaign that reaches everyone in the UK regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, wealth or age.
You can listen to the interview on BBC iPlayer for a week here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01p3mwy
My interview starts from time: 23 minutes and 45 seconds in.
Have a great week everyone!
Today, Saturday 1st December 2012, is the 24th World Aids Day.
We’ve come a long way in thirty-four years. Back then a HIV diagnosis was more often than not followed with an AIDS diagnosis and a high likelihood of death. Now in 2012 HIV is a manageable condition, with early diagnosis and modern treatment regimens we can expect to live as long as any of our HIV- contemporaries, some say even longer with the constant health monitoring and care we receive.
But HIV still has no cure, it’s a life long condition – one that is not easy to live with, either physically or emotionally. The HIV related complications are numerous, the risk of certain cancers is dramatically higher and that’s not even mentioning the stigma and discrimination HIV+ people can still face today.
Whilst things may have improved dramatically for people living with HIV in the developed world the same thing can’t be said for others around the world. Deaths from HIV/AIDS in Africa are still unconscionably high. We need to work on providing support, education, cheaper medication and contraception. If we’re going to fight this epidemic we need to hit it – HARD.
Closer to home, I hear a lot of people asking “What does World AIDS Day have to do with me?”, and until I was diagnosed I’m ashamed to admit that I was one of those people. We’re bombarded with so many “international days” it’s hard to keep track of what’s happening when and whether it’s worth getting involved. In November alone there are TWENTY-FOUR “international days” including:
- World Planning Day
- World Kindness Day
- World Pneumonia Day
- World Hello Day
- World Fisheries Day
But World AIDS Day is one of the biggies. It happens in most countries around the world with the backing of the United Nations and the World Health Organisation. It’s a time to reflect on those we’ve lost to the disease internationally over the few decades, time to think about how we can help work towards a HIV free generation, and time to think about our own behavior.
Leading up to this year’s World AIDS Day there was the first UK wide ‘HIV Testing Week’ – an initiative to get people up and down the country regardless of gender, age, sexuality or ethnicity to go and get tested. Something I wrote about the other day ‘Read more…’
But don’t let the good work stop there, if you didn’t get chance to go get tested this week – go next week! Once you’ve done it put an appointment in your diary to go again in six months, the short time it takes to get tested is a small price to pay for peace of mind and being in control of your own health, and the health of those you sleep with.
I’m going to be spending today wandering around Central London with the Terrence Higgins Trust rattling buckets and collecting money to help continue the fight against HIV. If you see us please fling some change our way, and if you don’t perhaps you could go online and donate something?
Whatever you do this World AIDS Day do it with kindness, love and thought.
Happy Friday to you lovely people,
Today, Friday 23rd November 2012 marks the start of National HIV Testing Week here in England. This is the first time such a large initiative has been run to encourage the people of England to go out and get tested.
National HIV Testing Week runs from Friday 23rd November to Friday 30th November, finishing just before World AIDS Day on Saturday 1st December.
The initiative is being run by the Terrence Higgins Trust, the UK’s largest HIV charity (who are celebrating their 30th birthday this year) and supported by a whole host of other organisations such as BASHH, BHIVA and the HPA.
Many people are put off going for HIV test by a fear of needles or having blood taken, but the fact is most clinics these days use rapid testing known as FastTest which involves a simple prick on your finger and you’ll get the results within minutes.
Annie Lennox was interviewed this week for ITV News about her views on HIV and testing in the UK, she said:
“We’re still struggling with the issue of stigma, fear and ignorance, There are many people that now, actually need to get tested. Friday 23rd at the end of the is the begining of National Testing week here in the country and we’ll be encouraging people to go get tested and find out their status… Go and get tested, find out your status, then you can know what you’re dealing with.” You can watch the full interview here: http://vimeo.com/53871991
Boris Johnson, The Mayor of London said:
“London is home to almost half of all people living with HIV in the UK, but a quarter of them are unaware that they carry the virus. It is vital that people who might be at risk get tested, not only to reduce the risk of transmission to others, but to ensure that they get the life-saving treatments that are available”
Even if you’ve been tested recently, or are HIV+ why not help promote National HIV Testing week via your facebook or Twitter using #HIVTestingWeek and encourage your friends to go and get tested. The sooner you know, the sooner you can take control of your health and protect those around you.
Enjoy your Friday and weekend!
Lots of Love,