Latest: Gay Men & HIV

Publish Date: 07/09/2011

Data released September 2011 by the Health Protection Agency shows that almost 70,000 people were accessing HIV-related care at the end of 2010, an increase of 4,100 (6%) compared to 2009.

Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men remain the group most at risk of becoming infected with HIV, with 3,000 new diagnoses made in 2010 - the largest ever annual number of new HIV diagnoses in this group since the HIV epidemic began.
 
Dr Valerie Delpech, head of HIV at the Health Protection Agency, said: "Despite progress in delivering treatment, preventing transmission is critical to reducing HIV costs to the NHS, which were an estimated £484 million in 2010 - an increase of £49 million from the previous year.
 
"The best way to prevent all sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, is to practise safe sex. This means using a condom with all new sexual partners until you have both been tested and given the all-clear."
 
Rob Cookson, Director of Programmes and Performance at The Lesbian & Gay Foundation (The LGF) commented:  “The data released by the Health Protection Agency reinforces the importance of regular and consistent condom use. It also highlights the importance of gay and bisexual men knowing their HIV status-through getting tested.”
 
The figures from Health Protection Agency come just after Manchester Pride payed tribute to those affected by HIV at George House Trust’s Candlelit Vigil.
 
The commitment in the HIV & LGBT Communities has never waned but the lack of national campaigns around HIV prevention and to promote HIV testing has meant that HIV remains one of our most serious public health issues.
 
A major House of Lords report timed to coincide with the 25th anniversary of 1986’s ‘Don’t Die of Ignorance’ Campaign has provided many recommendations to improve the way the UK deals with HIV which is urging for more prevention and promotion work in this area.

Protect Yourself. Wear a Condom

As well as providing the best possible defence against HIV and sexually transmitted infections which continue to rise amongst men who have sex with men, LGF condom packs come with a reminder of the importance of regular testing for HIV.
 
The LGF’s Safer Sex Packs are arguably the most visible resource that we produce. For over 17 years they have been protecting men who have sex with men across Greater Manchester. It is because of the visibility of the scheme that we have decided to use it to promote HIV testing, and ensure that as many people as possible are aware of their HIV status. Gay & bisexual men should be getting an HIV test at least once a year. Safer sex plus regular testing is the best way for men to look after their sexual health.
 
Know Your Status. Get Tested.
 
This year as well as providing the best possible defence against HIV and sexually transmitted infections which continue to rise amongst men who have sex with men, the LGF’s condom packs come with a reminder of the importance of regular testing for HIV. The new packs were launched at Manchester Pride – the message “Know Your HIV Status” will continue to be visible throughout the year in the months leading up to World AIDS Day on 1st December.
 
Rob adds: “Preventing transmission remains critical in reducing the human costs of acquiring HIV, plus reducing the growing HIV costs to the NHS, estimated at £484 million in 2010 -an increase of £49 million from the previous year.”
 
“It is vital that we maintain and increase the investment in prevention services with a particular focus on targeted campaigns for those most at risk such as men who have sex with men, and continue to carry out community based services such as the Lesbian & Gay Foundation’s free gay men’s safer sex packs and regular weekly Rapid HIV Testing Service and Outreach service.”

Every Thursday, the LGF hold a Rapid HIV Testing Clinic - gay and bisexual men can get their results within 20-30 minutes of taking the test - it takes place at The LGF, Number 5, Richmond Street, Manchester between 4pm - 6pm.

Every Monday, the LGF's Sexual Health Outreach Clinic is held at venues around Manchester and Salford. For more information on the next clinic visit: http://www.lgf.org.uk/testing
 
For more on the latest HIV statistics:
http://www.hpa.org.uk/web/HPAweb&HPAwebStandard/HPAweb_C/1314807668695