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About sexually transmitted infections
If you think you have a STI
If you think you have a STI…
- Don’t have sex
- Read this very helpful section
- And get to a clinic
And yes, you can Google your symptoms until the cows come home to try and find out what you have but, frankly, this is bloody useless. So, at the risk of repeating ourselves, get yourself to a clinic!SXT | SXT
Find a sexual health service | NHS
Sexual health services by London Borough | MEN R US Free do-it-yourself STI test kit | Sexual Health London (SHL)
This service is designed for individuals who have no symptoms. Back to top
You're not the first to get an STI
If you ever thought that you were the first or only person to have had a sexually transmitted infection (STI) – think again; they have been around for thousands of years. Gonorrhoea was first mentioned in the Bible and the name of the disease was given by the second-century Greek physician Galen. The origin of syphilis is less clear but by the 16th Century it was making its way across Europe.
Anybody can get a STI from someone who already has one. The trouble is that STIs are usually passed on by someone who doesn’t know that they have an infection and so just asking your partner won’t protect you. The majority of STIs enter the body through tiny abrasions, sores or cuts in the body, many of which can be invisible to the eye. A few STIs only itch, some are painful, some are permanent and many can be serious if left untreated.
Effective prevention, protection and treatment will significantly reduce the likelihood of getting STIs or, if you do get them, will reduce or eliminate the harm they can cause.
Over recent decades, HIV has affected the lives of gay men everywhere and has changed the way we think about sexual health. Not only do we have a better understanding of our health needs, but many sexual health services have responded to the need for improvement. None of us really want to dwell on STIs, but being aware on what’s going on leaves you free to concentrate on having a good time.Celebrating a century of sexual health care in the UK | British Association for Sexual Health and HIV | 8 Jun 2017 | 2m 43s Back to top
Being sexually healthy is not only about dealing with sexual problems as they arise, it’s also about avoiding problems in the first place. Most sexual activity carries some kind of risk of getting an STI and, while never pleasant, many gay men see them as an occupational hazard.
You significantly reduce the risk of getting or passing on STIs by:
- Prompt visit to a sexual health clinic if you think you have a STI
- Vaccination against hepatitis A and B
- Routine clinic check-ups every 3-6 months. If you have unprotected sex, use drugs or have had a recent STI, we suggest you have check ups every 3 months
- Using condoms when fucking
- Not sharing injecting equipment
In May 2022, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) identified a handful of monkeypox cases, saying “…the most recent cases are in gay, bisexual and other MSM communities, and as the virus spreads through close contact, we are advising these groups to be alert to any unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitalia, and to contact a sexual health service if they have concerns.”
While it’s essential to know if the outbreak disproportionately affects gay, bisexual men and other MSM communities, a handful of cases is an outbreak, not an epidemic. However, it’s worth noting the outbreak in Spain, where health authorities said, “Generally speaking, monkeypox is spread by respiratory transmission, but the characteristics of the 23 suspected cases point towards transmission through mucus during sexual relations.” It would be concerning if the 23 cases were gay men, but we must not jump to conclusions.
Already, professionals and pundits are over it like a rash (no pun intended) with opinions, forebodings, perspectives, and predictions. We should be mindful that the outbreak is relatively new, and the narrative is unfolding. Should the situation develop or worsen, it’s good to know that the UKHSA is monitoring gay, bisexual and other MSM communities.The above text was posted in early May 2022. See below for updates.
There is no evidence it is a sexually transmitted infection like HIV or chlamydia. Rather, in the UK outbreak, close contact during sex or intimate activity may have been a key factor in transmission.
London’s Public Health Director Kevin Fenton explains why everyone, but particularly gay and bisexual men, to be on the lookout for any unusual rashes or blister-like lesions after the recent discovery of several cases in England.
Monkeypox | UKHSA | 19 May 2022 | 36s
NHS helpline and listings for sexual health services (Greater London)111 | NHS Helpline
Sexual health services for Greater listed by London borough | MEN R US
Sexual health services for United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland | MEN R US
MonkeypoxMonkeypox: Q&A and Update | i-base | 26 May 2022
This Q&A is about the recent cases of the monkeypox virus (MPV) in the UK. It will be updated as new information becomes available.
Monkeypox Resources | British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) Monkeypox cases confirmed in England – latest updates | UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA)
Monkeypox | GOV.UK
Monkeypox | NHS
Monkeypox | World Health Organisation (WHO) Monkeypox | Wikipedia
Monkeypox virus | Wikipedia
MoreMajority of UK’s 366 monkeypox cases are in London, says health agency | The Guardian | 10 Jun 2022
Law makes monkeypox a notifiable disease in England | BBC News | 8 Jun 2022
The Guardian view on monkeypox: communication is crucial | The Guardian | 5 Jun 2022
Fifth case of monkeypox discovered in New York City | The Guardian | 3 Jun 2022
Monkeypox infections rise as guidance advises cases to abstain from sex | BBC | 30 May 2022
Monkeypox: what is it and how worried should we be? – video explainer | The Guardian | 27 May 2022
Monkeypox: UK cases rise to 71, with vaccines for high-risk contacts | BBC News | 25 May 2022
Monkeypox is spreading among gay men worldwide | nam aidsmap | 25 May 2022
UN denounces ‘homophobic and racist’ reporting on monkeypox spread | The Guardian | 23 May 2022
Monkeypox outbreak is primarily spreading through sex, WHO officials say | CNBC | 23 May 2022
Monkeypox Q&A: how do you catch it and what are the risks? An expert explains | The Conversation | 23 May 2022
UNAIDS warns that stigmatizing language on Monkeypox jeopardises public health | UNAIDS | 22 May 2022
Monkeypox: Doctors concerned over impact on sexual health | BBC News | 21 May 2022
Monkeypox could significantly disrupt UK sexual health services, expert says | BBC News | 21 May 2021
Monkeypox: Time to worry or one to ignore? | BBC News | 21 May 2022
‘Now we have to deal with it’: what’s going on in the UK with monkeypox? | The Guardian | 20 May 2022
US reports rare case of monkeypox amid small outbreaks in Europe | The Guardian | 19 May 2022
Even more monkeypox cases identified as queer men urged to watch out for rashes and lesions | Pink News | 19 May 2022
Monkeypox alert in Spain after 23 people show symptoms | The Guardian | 18 May 2022
European outbreak of monkeypox: what you need to know | The Conversation | 18 May 2022
What is monkeypox and should UK residents be worried? | The Guardian | 17 May 2022
Monkeypox: Four more cases detected in England | BBC News | 17 May 2022
Four queer men diagnosed with monkeypox in ‘rare and unusual’ UK outbreak | Pink News | 17 May 2022
US monitoring over 200 people for potential monkeypox exposure | The Guardian | 26 Jul 2021
US reports rare case of monkeypox amid small outbreaks in Europe | The Guardian | 19 May 2019
Monkeypox case in England | 8 Sep 2018 | GOV.UK Back to top
STI signs and symptoms
- Bacteria which generally live and multiply in the warm and moist parts of your body like your throat, inside your penis and in your anus and rectum.
- Viruses which generally need to get into the blood stream before they can do harm.
- Parasites which live on your body in areas like your groin and armpits.
While some STIs have no symptoms, most do and can include:
- Itching in or around the cock, balls and arsehole.
- Burning or itching when you piss or poo.
- Needing to piss or poo and then not being able to go, or only going a little.
- Spots, scabs, or rashes on the cock, balls, or entrance to the arsehole or body rash,
- Pus from the end of the cock or from the arsehole itself.
- Unusual lumps or bumps.
STI symptom sorter
The sorter is for guidance only and to satisfy curiosity. If you’re checking out your own symptoms then that’s reason enough (in our book) to get a clinic check-up now, where tests can determine whether you have an STI or not.
Some symptoms can also indicate other illnesses or medical problems. All the more reason to see someone as soon as possible.Back to top
STI self-test kits
Sexual Health London
Sexual Health London (SHL) is a self-test STI kit service that provides free sexual health through the internet and local venues. Simply register for SHL and complete an online consultation to order your free STI test kit.
Please note the service is designed for individuals who have no symptoms. If you have symptoms, please attend your local sexual health clinic. The service is available to people aged 16 and over residents in most London Boroughs.Hillingdon, Croydon and Greenwich do not participate in SHL.
The service provides testing for sexually transmitted infections, including chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B and hepatitis C via samples you can collect at home.Sexual Health London | Sexual Health London
How SHL uses your data
Please click this link if you would like to know how Sexual Health London collects and uses the data you provide. SHL states, “Currently, no profiling is undertaken, and we have no plans to do so. Profiling would only ever be used to help us fulfil our duties under the Equality Act 2010 in advancing equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it.” SHL is operated by Preventx, Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust, LloydsPharmacy and Zesty, backed by Mangrove Capital Partners, Innovation Capital and Qualcomm Ventures.Back to top
SH:24 (outside London)
SH:24 says it makes it easier for people to get tested for the four most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs). We provide free test kits, information and advice – 24 hours a day. It is quick, discreet and completely confidential.
SH:24 operates outside London in parts of England and Ireland. Click here for the full list.SH:24 | SH:24
Order a test kit | SH:24
You will need to enter your postcode to clarify whether SH:24 operates in your area. Back to top
PREP and PEP
PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis)
Pre = before
Exposure = coming into contact with HIV
Prophylaxis = treatment to prevent an infection from happening
When someone is exposed to HIV through sex – or injecting drug use – these medicines work to keep the virus from establishing a permanent infection. When taken daily, PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV. Studies show that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken daily.As PrEP only protects against HIV, condoms are important for the protection against other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Condoms are also an important prevention strategy if PrEP is not taken consistently.
More about PrEP
PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) | iBase Editor’s choice.
PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) | LGBT Hero
PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) | Terrence Higgins Trust (THT)
PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) | National AIDS Trust (NAT)
PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) | Wikipedia
PrEP Access Fund
Fund supports people with no income or in receipt of benefits who do not have access to PrEP on the NHS.
Mags Portman PrEP Access Fund
The evidence for PrEP
In February 2015, the PROUD study reported that PrEP reduced the risk of HIV infection by 86% for gay men and other men who have sex with men. It measured the effectiveness of daily PrEP for those recruited during the 2-year study. In the UK there is still some concern that widespread use of PrEP could reduce the number of people who are using condoms and therefore increase the number of exposures with people who are not aware of their HIV infection, and who are potentially very infectious.
2021Huge fall in new HIV infections after roll-out of PrEP in Scotland | nam aidsmap | 21 Jan 2021 Communities with high virus rates ‘left behind’ due to Tory public health cuts | Mirror | 5 Apr 2021
2020Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Schools Pharma Exec. on HIV Drug Prices | NowThis | 19 May 2019 | 4m 17s
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) asked this pharma exec why life-saving HIV drug Truvada costs nearly $2,000 in the U.S. and $8 in Australia. How PrEP users decide whether to use condoms | nam aidsmap | 30 Nov 2020
On-demand PrEP is highly effective, but some may find it confusing | nam aidsamap | 8 Jul 2020
Statement: government intend to cut PrEP funding by a third in England | NAT | 3 Jul
A quarter of gay men report casual sex during UK lockdown | nam aidsmap | 11 Jun 2020
PrEP, the drug that prevents HIV, will finally be fully rolled out in England | BuzzFeed | 16 Mar 2020
HIV drug PrEP to be available across England | GOV.UK | 15 Mar 2020
PrEP: Preventative HIV drug available in England from April | BBC | 15 Mar 2020
A drug can stop HIV infection – so why isn’t it available on the NHS in England? | The Guardian | 16 Feb 2020
Does PrEP cause more HIV drug resistance? Yes, some | nam aidsmap | 12 Feb 2020
Why do people turn down the offer of PrEP? | nam aidsmap | 14 Jan 2020
Trust and stigma affect gay couples’ choices on PrEP and PEP | nam aidsmap | 7 Jan 2020
2019 – 2016
Second case of unintended HIV transmission during HIV cure study prompts questions about PrEP provision | 22 Nov 2019 | nam aidsmap
Taking HIV drug PrEP ‘doesn’t mean you’re promiscuous’ | BBC | 26 Apr 2019
London Councils to add 4,000 new places to PrEP trial | Pink News | 12 Apr 2019
First year of PrEP in Scotland: more users than expected, few dropouts, few HIV infections | NAM aidsmap | 2 Apr 2019
Sadiq Khan: Cash row is denying Londoners access to HIV ‘wonder drug’ | Evening Standard | 12 Mar 2019
Scotland’s introduction of HIV drug PrEP ‘puts England to shame’ | The Guardian | 27 Feb 2019
PrEP drug uptake ‘exceeds predictions’ | BBC News | 26 Feb 2019
Truvada and the truth: is HIV prevention propelling the STI epidemic? | The Guardian | 21 Oct 2018
The HIV-positive man who stopped thousands getting the virus | BBC News | 28 June 2018
New (US) research explores the reasons men stop taking PrEP | Avert 28 Mar 2018
PrEP: HIV ‘game-changer’ to reach NHS in England from September | BBC | 3 Aug 2017
Fall in HIV among gay men could spell end for Britain’s epidemic, say experts | The Guardian | 22 Jun 2017
Sex without fear – my experiment with… PrEP | The Guardian | 22 Jun 2017
Massive drop in London HIV rates may be due to internet drugs | New Scientist | 9 Jan 2017
NHS England has power to fund Prep HIV drug, court decides | BBC 10 Nov 2016
NHS loses court appeal over ‘game-changing’ HIV drugs | The Guardian | 10 Nov 2016
NHS England 45 Day PrEP Consultation | 10 Aug 2016
HIV drug row: A very modern dilemma for the NHS | Nick Triggle, BBC | 2 Aug 2016
NHS England: August update on the commissioning and provision of PREP for HIV prevention | 2 Aug 2016
HIV campaigners win NHS drug battle | BBC 2 Aug 2016
Judicial review over HIV Prep drug | BBC News | 13 June 2016
Buying PrEP online: safer use and NHS monitoring | i-Base and others | June 2016
NHS England reconsiders HIV Prep drug decision | BBC | 19 Apr 2016
NHS will now consider putting PrEP back… | NAT | 19 Apr 2016
England’s PrEP policy in disarray after NHS U-turn | NAM Aidsmap | 22 Mar 2016
Row over HIV prevention drug Prep (Funding 500 over 2 years) | BBC | 22 Mar 2016
Sign statement calling for earlier access to PrEP | prepaccess.org
PrEP: Why we are waiting | The Lancet HIV | Jan 2016
R.I.P. Condoms | Michael Henry | 2 Jan 2019 | 3m 23s Back to top
Some gay and bisexual men see PrEP as a ‘social problem’
“Gay and bisexual men have differing attitudes towards men who are using pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), according to US research published in Sociology of Health & Illness. A series of focus groups conducted in New York City showed that some men regarded PrEP users as immoral, irresponsible, naïve and vectors of disease. In contrast, other men saw PrEP as a beneficial new option for preventing the spread of HIV. They had a nuanced view about the effectiveness of condom-based prevention campaigns and the epidemiology of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among gay and bisexual men.”
Some gay and bisexual men see PrEP as a ‘social problem’ | nam aidsmap | 5 Oct 2018
So, what is the problem with PrEP? Why is there stigma around a pill that, ultimately, prevents HIV infection and can save lives?
“Ultimately, we are a community living in the shadow of a devastating and traumatic chapter in our history (AIDS). With PrEP and undetectable, we are asking people to unlearn everything they ever learned in a climate of fear, infection and death. We are asking people to learn the new science and the new facts, and oftentimes, change or something new can stir deep emotions and reactions. It requires us all to use the basic components of constructive debate, which are respect, compassion and kindness. It will require us to listen and be open to learn. It will be uncomfortable but it needs to happen.”
PrEP: The battle against stigma | GMFA | 2018 FS 168
Do-it-yourself HIV prevention: who do men buying PrEP online get support from?
“Gay men in London who source their own supply of generic pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drugs, usually from overseas internet pharmacies, most often learnt about this possibility from people in their social network and would like more support from other PrEP users to be available. Nonetheless, clinicians’ endorsement of purchasing PrEP online was important in convincing men of the legitimacy of the practice and men would have much preferred the NHS to actually provide PrEP, according to a study in PLOS ONE.”
Do-it-yourself HIV prevention: who do men buying PrEP online get support from? | aids map | 18 Sep 2018
PrEP, condoms, STIs and antibiotics
Studies show a significant rise in bacterial STIs in men who are using PrEP that appears to be related to their sexual networks and the level of condom use. Even if PrEP is the game-changer many are hoping it to be, PrEP offers zero protection against other STIs which are on the rise at a time when antibiotics are failing.
Rapid rise in anti-HIV PrEP pills linked to drop in condom use | The Guardian | 6 June 2018
Antibiotics ‘may be lost’ through overuse, says chief medical officer | BBC | 13 Oct 2017 | 59s
PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) or PEP SE (sexual exposure)
Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) also known as PEP SE (post-exposure prophylaxis sexual exposure) is a course of medication after a potential exposure, designed to reduce the risk of HIV infection. It is the same meds that are used to treat HIV.
The course of medication lasts 28 days and may be able to prevent you from becoming infected with HIV if you start taking it within 72 hours of being at risk of HIV exposure; eg: a condom break during fucking.
If you think you may need PEP don’t spend the next 72 hours wondering, or searching the Internet for the right advice. The right advice is right here and you should go to a sexual health clinic now as time is of the essence. You can also obtain PEP at A&E (Accident and Emergency) departments of some hospitals. A&Es are especially important at weekends because most sexual health clinics are closed.
A&E London | MEN R US
Find a sexual health service | NHS GMFA
Wikipedia Use of PEP: UK Guidelines | NICE | BASHH | 2015 Back to top
Not sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, Porn4PrEP uses porn to stimulate conversation and bridge gaps in knowledge about sexual health. It also promotes awareness and access to PrEP in the UK and overseas.
The same team have produced The Good Porn Project, a coalition of professionals from the porn industry celebrating the beneficial impacts that porn plays in society.Porn4PrEP | Porn4PrEP
The Good Porn Project | The Good Porn Project Back to top
Sexual health check ups
Sexual health clinics
Sexual health clinics or services provide treatment for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and practical help to reduce the risk of getting them in the future. Some services are referred to as Genito Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinics which is the medical term for this field of medicine.
For many years, ‘GUM’ or ‘clap’ clinics were hidden away in hospital basements but many improved from the 1990s, with changes driven largely by gay men, developing a more positive and comprehensive understanding of gay men’s health. And for those who want them, there are clinics specifically for gay men, and evening opening times.
Having said that, improvements are not universal and the quality of service can vary between clinics. In some cases, thankfully more rarely today, we can still be patronised and mistreated by homophobic and judgemental staff, although they do seem to be on the way out.
If you are sexually active, finding a GUM clinic you like is essential, particularly if you can build up a good relationship, if required.What services do sexual health clinics (GUM clinics) provide? | NHS Back to top
Finding a clinic
Unless a clinic has been recommended to you by a friend, it can difficult to know where to find a clinic whether you’re looking for your first clinic or moving to a different one.Find a sexual health service | NHS Health Services by London Borough | MEN R US
United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland | MEN R US
With few exceptions, most of us use clinics run by the National Health Service – they’re free (including treatment prescriptions) and generally very good. Alternatively, you can go to a private clinic and pay for it. Depending on where you live and work, it can be worth thinking about the clinic location, although this should be a secondary consideration after the quality of the service you receive. Even if there’s just the one locally, some gay men do go elsewhere to reduce the likelihood of recognition or because the service is crap. So shop around to find a clinic which best suits your needs.
Go online or phone up the clinic and find out if you need an appointment, or whether it is a ‘walk-in’ service. ‘Walk-in’ clinics can be very busy and it’s almost impossible to gauge how long you’ll be there. It is advisable to put aside a morning or afternoon until you have a clearer idea of how the clinic works. You might want to ask if they have a special clinic for gay men if that’s what you’re after.
Free on-line service (also available as an app) that helps find the right type of sexual health service at a convenient time near you including screening, HIV testing, chlamydia testing, PEP and sexual assault. Run by professionals, SXT has a database of more than 2,500 clinics across the UK and is open for everyone: all genders, ethnic groups and sexualities.SXT | SXT
Three Flying Piglets (one of our other projects) has just completed a series of short animated films “TOM MEETS SXT” to promote the service.Back to top
Sexual health clinics (STI clinics) are bound by law to ensure the confidentiality of your records, so it’s OK to give your real name and address. All information about you and your sexual health is protected by law under the NHS Trusts and Primary Care Trusts (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) Directions 2000 and The NHS (Venereal Diseases) Regulations 1974.Keep our sexual health services confidential | NAT | 6 Aug 2014
In September 2015 a breach occurred where the 56 Dean Street clinic sent out the names and email addresses of 780 people when a newsletter was issued to clinic patients. Although this was appalling it was an exceptionally very rare occurrence in the sexual health field. Patients were supposed to be blind-copied into the email but instead details were sent as a group email.London clinic leaks HIV status of patients | BBC News | 2 Sep 2015
If you’re going to have an HIV antibody test you may decide to give a false name, and this is not against the law. However, don’t forget it… and any other false information you provide. Unfortunately, the same standard of confidentiality cannot be assured outside your clinic if you’re referred to another hospital department or service.Back to top
When you arrive
When you arrive you should report to reception, where you will be booked in and given a numbered ticket (depending on the system). You then wait until your ticket number or name is called. If it’s your first time, you may need to answer a few questions or complete a short questionnaire.
Some guys feel the need to give a different name which is OK as long as you remember it… and respond when it’s called out! At some point you will be given a reference number. Don’t lose it as it links you with your clinic file which sits amongst tens of thousands of other records. Although they can be found by your name and/ or date of birth, looking for records in this way causes delays and extra waiting time for you.
Visits may take up to 2 hours, sometimes longer, so don’t be afraid to ask how long it is expected to take. Longer waits usually occur in clinics that provide a ‘walk-in’ service where it can be difficult to match demand with staff. If the waiting room is packed and the clinic is short staffed, you could be there for several hours – it’s unavoidable. Pre-arranged appointments are more likely to keep to time, but are prone to delays like any health service.
Everyone is there for the same reasons and nobody is likely to feel any less awkward than you. Just get on with it; take a book or watch a movie on your phone to pass away the time. Some clinics even have free wifi.Back to top
The check-up and consultation
Practice varies between clinics but you can usually expect the following during a visit:
- A routine check-up
- A conversation about concerns or symptoms
- The examination
- Blood tests
- Initial test results
- Other test results
- At the end
If you are going for a regular check-up with no concerns or symptoms (that you know of) you will be asked for some or all of the following:
- Complete a short questionnaire
- Pee in a pot
- Swabs from bum and/ or throat depending on the sex you’ve had (for gonorrhoea, chlamydia)
- Bloods tests for syphilis, HIV and viral Hepatitis
Checkups with concerns or symptoms
You will be seen by a clinician (a nurse or doctor) who will find out about your reason for attending the clinic
- You will be called by name or number and shown to a consulting room and while the consultation is taking place the door should be closed
- Clinicians should introduce themselves (sometimes there is a student present and you should be asked whether this is OK. If you’d rather see the clinician alone – say so, particularly if it’s your first time at the clinic or if you are feeling in any way nervous)
- You will be asked about any problems or concerns you might have. Explain in your own words what seems to be the matter and describe any symptoms
You may also be asked about these sorts of questions…
- How many people you’ve had sex with recently and their sex
- Whether your partners were casual, known to you or regular
- The kind of sex you’ve had and whether you used condoms (or not)
- Whether you’ve had STIs before
- If you have been vaccinated for hepatitis in the past (as you may need a booster)
- Your alcohol intake and recreational drug use
- General health problems are taking medication or have allergies
Difficult and embarrassing though they might be, be truthful, and be as specific as possible. If you hide anything (eg: say you always use condoms when in fact you don’t) or are economical with the truth, you may be not be tested for something you have.
Depending on why you are attending you will be examined, this is likely to include:
- the cock and balls
- the throat and the glands in your throat
- the skin.
You will need to provide samples to find out whether you have a sexually transmitted infection.
Swabs can be used to take samples from:
- your pee hole
- your throat
- your arsehole
- you may also be asked for a urine sample
These are used to test for gonorrhoea, chlamydia, pus in the rectum, or penis (proctitis or NSU).
You will then be asked to give a blood sample for syphilis, HIV and Hepatitis.
Initial test results
Some of the test results will be available during your visit so after you have been examined and provided the necessary samples, you are likely to be returned to the waiting area for a short time before seeing the nurse or doctor again.
Depending on the diagnosis you may be given a course of treatment (usually antibiotics)
Other test results
The rest of your results will take a week or so and you will have to go back to get them and most clinics communicate your results by text or telephone, however, you may be asked to attend for your results or review.
At the end
Thoughtful clinicians will close your session by checking that everything is OK and give you an opportunity to ask any other questions.
Visiting a STI clinic | NHS
Back to top
Surveys, studies and trials
If you are receiving HIV treatments/ therapies, you may be asked to take part in a clinical trial or survey (especially if you are newly diagnosed).
Before you make any decision you need to understand the purpose of the survey/ trial etc; what is involved; your rights; and whether there are any dangers or risks. If you have difficulty in understanding what is being asked of you, ask that the questions or information are rephrased or re-explained. You should also be given time to think about what has been said before you make any decision.Back to top
If you have a STI then you’ll be prescribed a course of treatment. If you’re given antibiotics then it is very important that you complete the whole course even if you think the symptoms have gone away.
The infection may not have been fully cured and if it comes back then it can be more difficult to treat second time round. You will be asked to come back to check the infection has gone away.
If you don’t understand what the treatment is and you want to know, don’t be afraid to ask. If you are unhappy with what you’ve been given then ask if there’s an alternative. All treatment and prescriptions are free.
Antibiotics | MEN R USBack to top
Telling sexual partners and contact tracing
Clinics will want to make sure that all your recent partners are traced so that they can be warned that they need a check-up too. Just assure the clinic that you will personally tell all your partners. Then do it!
Alternatively, there is ‘provider referral’ where a clinic will contact partners on your behalf anonymously. All you have to do is give the clinic his first name and mobile number. They will do the rest and will not identify you at all.
Remember, you can have most STIs without there being any external or recognisable symptoms. The situation is more complex if you test HIV antibody positive but the health adviser should help you tackle the issues.Back to top
The service you can expect
Generally clinics provide an excellent and consistent service and, you should be to
- Understand and be kept fully informed about what’s going on
- Have questions asked with sensitivity and in plain language
- Have time and attention to express concerns and ask questions
- Have your questions answered honestly and in plain language
- Be given time to understand the answers
- Be asked for your consent to any tests or treatments
Communication works both ways
Occasionally staff assume you are straight (heterosexual) and/ or may only have a limited understanding of gay sex. If you feel the line of questioning is insensitive or offensive so say: firmly but politely. Clarifying something can be awkward and embarrassing but trends in gay sex can be complicated and fast moving (the language and apps we use, for example). Providing your knowledge can also help staff and clinics in the work they do.Back to top
Saying thank you and making complaints
Acknowledging when and where clinics get it right is just as important as complaining. Dedicated staff work very hard to ensure that clinic services meet our needs with the least discomfort and embarrassment. Quite simply, if you’re pleased with the service say-so and spread the word.
Making a complaint can be difficult and embarrassing, particularly if it involves coming face to face (again) with the member of staff about whom you’re complaining. Think carefully about
- why you are complaining
- what you want to say
- what you want to get out of the situation.
Maybe it’s an apology you want, or an improvement in the service you’ve received?
Being clear and calm will not just help you but also the clinic in understanding why you’ve made the complaint in the first place. You may want to deal with the situation then and there. Alternatively, when you get home make a note of the incident before contacting the clinic again. An irate call to the clinic may make you feel better but unless you provide your name, who was involved, and what happened, it’s unlikely that the clinic can carry the complaint further).
It may be useful to talk it through with a friend – preferably one who’ll be supportive but objective. If you don’t wish to contact the member of staff concerned directly, try the clinic’s business manager or senior clinician. Some clinics have a system for complaints and suggestions and this may be a useful place to start.
Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)
Alternatively, clinics are usually part of a hospital or NHS type Trust with a Patient Advice and Liaison Service where you can raise your concern or make your complaint through them.
Find a PALS near you | NHS Back to top
Sexual health services listings
We updated this section in January 2020 by listing sexual health clinics and services by London borough (rather than north, south, east, and west). The format is similar to the way we have mapped drug, alcohol and chemsex services in our DRUGS section. Email us here if you know of a service we should add, or if we’ve got something wrong. If you can’t find a service in your area and we will try and point you in the right direction.Sexual health services that include chemsex support, advice and/ or signposting have a lifebuoy icon.
If we’ve done our homework, the services listed should be located in NHS hospitals where you can walk-in whether you live inside or outside the borough. Alternatively, you can search for sexual health services at SXT and NHS. However, search results may include specialist services and/ or be located in other settings such as GP surgeries, health centres, polyclinics, satellite sites, and pharmacies. Also, some services are for borough residents only and appointment only.
This listing is a response to confusing and unhelpful signposting to services, particularly if you’re unaware of SXT or NHS sexual health service search functions. The aim is to make searches less frustrating and no more than three clicks away.
Confused and unhelpful signposting
When compiling and updating this listing, we discovered:
- local authorities that have no meaningful sexual health information (at all)
- hubs or groups of sexual health services with confusing circular hyperlinks
- unnecessarily complicated phone menus and unanswered telephone lines
- home testing kits as the only option on at least one local authority website
The sexual health service landscape has changed dramatically in recent years; we understand that. However, but we don’t believe all the changes are for the better and, of course, some will argue the opposite. What concerns us most is that gay men start asking:
- why we can’t get an appointment
- why we can’t walk into a clinic
- why we have to do ‘everything’ online
- why our only option seems to be a home testing kit
BARKING AND DAGENHAMSH Clinic Outpatients East | Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust
Barking Hospital, Upney Lane, Barking, London IG11 9LX | Map
Nearest station: Upney (District line)
Chemsex support Sexual health | Barking and Dagenham Council website
BARNETEdgware Community Hospital | Central North West London NHS Foundation Trust
Sexual Health Clinic, Lower Ground Floor, Burnt Oak Broadway, Edgware, London HA8 0AD | Map
Nearest station: Edgware (Northern line), Burnt Oak (Northern line) Sexual health | Barnet Council website
There is no hospital-based sexual health service in Bexley though some GP practices offer sexual health check-ups (for registered and non-registered patients). You can also visit SXT and NHS websites. However, search results may include specialist services and/ or be located in other settings; eg: GP surgeries, health centres, satellite sites, and pharmacies. Also, some services are for borough residents only and by appointment only.Sexual health | Bexley Council website
Bexley residents only
BRENTPatrick Clements GUM Centre | London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust
Central Middlesex Hospital, 2nd Floor, Acton Lane, London NW10 7NS | Map
Nearest stations: Harlesden (Overground), Park Royal (Piccadilly line) There is no sexual health services page | Brent Council website
BROMLEYCamberwell Sexual Health Centre | King’s College NHS Foundation Trust
94 Denmark Hill, London SE5 9RS | Map
Nearest station: Denmark Hill (Overground) Caldecot Centre | King’s College NHS Foundation Trust
15-22 Caldecot Road, London SE5 9RS | Map
For people newly diagnosed or living with HIV Beckenham Beacon Sexual Health Clinic | King’s College NHS Foundation Trust
Beckenham Hospital, 379 Croydon Road, Beckenham, BR3 3QL | Map
Nearest station: Clock House (Overground), Beckenham Junction (Mainline) Sexual health | Bromley Council website
CAMDENMortimer Market Centre | Central North West London NHS Foundation Trust
Capper Street (off Tottenham Court Road), London WC1E 6JB | Map
Nearest stations: Warren Street (Victoria line), Googe Street (Northern Line) Sexual health | Camden Council website
CITYSexual Health (SH) Service | Homerton University NHS Foundation Trust
80 Leadenhall Street, London, EC3 3DH | Map
Nearest station: Aldgate (Circle, Metropolitan lines)
Chemsex support Sexual health | City of London website MEN R US has awarded City of London a 2020 trophy for Least Helpful website.
CROYDONCroydon Sexual Health Centre | Croydon Health Services NHS Trust
Croydon University Hospital, 530 London Road, Thornton Heath, Croydon CR7 7YE | Map
Nearest stations: Thornton Heath, West Croydon (Mainline)
Chemsex support (via Turning Point) Sexual health | Croydon Council website
EALINGGUM/ Sexual Health | London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust
The clinic is closed. Alternative sexual health services can be found at the Central Middlesex Hospital and 10 Hammersmith Broadway. Patrick Clements Clinic | London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust
Central Middlesex Hospital, Acton Lane, London NW10 7NS | Map
Nearest stations: Park Royal (Piccadilly line), North Acton (Central line, Mainline), Harlesden (Overground) Sexual health | Ealing Council website
ENFIELDThe Town Clinic | ECHO | London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust
4 & 5 Burleigh Way, Enfield Town, EN2 6AE | Map
Nearest station: Enfield Town (Overground) Silverpoint Medical Centre | ECHO | London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust
88-90 Fore Street, Edmonton, London N18 2FF | Map
Nearest station: Silver Street (Overground) There is no sexual health services page | Enfield Council website
GREENWICHTrafalgar Clinic for Sexual Health | Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust
Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Stadium Road, London SE18 4QH | Map
Nearest station: Woolwich Arsenal (DLR) Sexual health | Greenwich Council website
HACKNEYHomerton Sexual Health Services | Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Clifden Centre, Homerton University Hospital, Homerton Row, London E9 6SR | Map
Nearest station: Homerton, Hackney Central (Overground)
Chemsex support The Ivy Centre | Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
St Leonards Hospital, Nuttall Street, Hackney, London N1 5LZ | Map
Nearest station: Haggerston, Hoxton (Overground)
Chemsex support Sexual health | Hackney Council website
HAMMERSMITH AND FULHAM10 Hammersmith Broadway | Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
10 Hammersmith Broadway, London W6 7AL | Map
Nearest stations: Hammersmith (Piccadilly and District lines; Hammersmith (Hammersmith & City and Circle lines) Sexual health | Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster Council websites
There is no hospital based sexual health service in Haringey. We advise you to go to SXT and NHS websites. However, search results may include specialist services and/ or be located in other settings; eg: GP surgeries, health centres, satellite sites, and pharmacies. Also, some services are for borough residents only and by appointment only.Sexual health | Haringey Council website
This link connects you to the Central North West London NHS Foundation Trust website BUT there are only three choices: I need emergency contraception; I need PEP (I think I have been exposed to HIV within the last 72 hours); and I need support after a sexual assault. MEN R US has awarded Haringey a 2020 trophy for Least Helpful website.
HARROWCaryl Thomas Clinic | London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust
Headstone Drive, Wealdstone, Harrow HA1 4UQ | Map
Nearest station: Harrow and Wealdstone (Overground and Bakerloo lines) Sexual health | Harrow Council website
There is only a satellite sexual health service in Havering at Queen’s Hospital. The main sexual health service is at:SH Clinic Outpatients East | Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust
Barking Hospital, Upney Lane, Barking, London IG11 9LX | Map
Nearest station: Upney (District line) Sexual health | Havering Council website
There is no hospital based sexual health service in Hillingdon. You are advised to go to:GUM/ Sexual Health | London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust
The clinic is now closed. Alternative sexual health services can be found at the Central Middlesex Hospital and 10 Hammersmith Broadway. Ealing Hospital, Uxbridge Road, Southall UB1 3HW | Map
Nearest station: Hanwell (Mainline) Patrick Clements Clinic | London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust
Central Middlesex Hospital, Acton Lane, London NW10 7NS | Map
Nearest stations: Park Royal (Piccadilly line), North Acton (Central line, Mainline), Harlesden (Overground) Sexual health | Hillingdon Council website
HOUNSLOWSexual Health Hounslow | Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Level 2, Heart of Hounslow Centre for Health, 92 Bath Road, Hounslow TW3 3EL | Map
Nearest stations: Hounslow Central (Piccadilly line), Hounslow (Mainline) Twickenham House | Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
West Middlesex University Hospital, Twickenham Road, Isleworth, Middlesex TW7 6AF | Map
Nearest station: Isleworth (Mainline) Sexual health | Hounslow Council website
ISLINGTONArchway Centre | Central North West London NHS Foundation Trust
681-689 Holloway Road, Archway, London, N19 5SE | Map
Nearest station: Archway (Northern line) Sexual health | Islington Council website
KENSINGTON AND CHELSEAJohn Hunter Clinic | Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
St Stephen’s Centre (next to Chelsea & Westminster Hospital), 369 Fulham Road, London SW10 9NH | Map
Nearest stations: South Kensington (Circle, District and Piccadilly lines); Fulham Broadway (District line); West Brompton (Overground and Mainline); and Earl’s Court (District and Piccadilly lines) Sexual health | Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster Council websites
KINGSTON UPON THAMESThe Wolverton Centre | Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Kingston Hospital, Galsworthy Road, Kingston upon Thames, London KT2 7QB | Map
Nearest stations: Norbiton (Overground) Sexual health | Kingston upon Thames Council website
LAMBETHBurrell Street Centre Sexual Health Clinic | Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
4-6 Burrell Street, London SE1 0UN | Map
Nearest station: Southwark (Jubilee line)
Chemsex support Sexual health | Lambeth Council website
LEWISHAMWaldron Health Centre | Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust
Clinic, Suite 8, 2nd Floor, Amersham Vale, Lewisham SE14 6LD | Map
Nearest station: New Cross (Overground) Sexual health | Lewisham Council website
There is no hospital based sexual health service in Merton. You are advised to go to:Falcon Road | Sexual Health South West London
160 Falcon Road, Wandsworth SW11 2LN | Map
Nearest station: Clapham Junction (Overground and Mainline) No helpful page found | Merton Council website
NEWHAMSir Ludwig Guttmann Health and Wellbeing Centre | Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust
Olympic Park 40 Liberty Bridge Rd East Village London E20 1AS | Map
Nearest station: Stratford (Central, Jubilee, DLR, Overground and Mainline)
Chemsex support Sexual health (broken hyperlink 20-01-20) | Newham Council website
There is no hospital based sexual health service in Redbridge, you are advised to go to:SH Clinic Outpatients East | Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust
Barking Hospital, Upney Lane, Barking, London IG11 9LX | Map
Nearest station: Upney (District line) Sexual health | Redbridge Council website
RICHMOND UPON THAMES
There is no hospital based sexual health service in Richmond, you are advised to go to:Falcon Road | Sexual Health South West London
160 Falcon Road, Wandsworth SW11 2LN | Map
Nearest station: Clapham Junction (Overground and Mainline) Sexual health | Richmond upon Thames Council website
SOUTHWARKBurrell Street Centre Sexual Health Clinic | Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
4-6 Burrell Street, London SE1 0UN | Map
Nearest station: Southwark (Jubilee line)
Chemsex support Walworth Road Clinic | Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
157-169 Walworth Road, London SE17 1RY | Map
Nearest station: Elephant and Castle (Northern, Bakerloo and Mainline), Kennington (Northern line) Sexual health | Southwark Council website
SUTTONRose Hill Clinic | Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust
St Helier Hospital, Wrythe Lane, Carshalton SM5 1AA | Map
Nearest station: Sutton Common and St Helier (Mainline) Sexual health | Sutton Council website
TOWER HAMLETSAmbrose King Centre | Barts Health NHS Trust
Royal London Hospital, Mount Terrace, Whitechapel E1 2BB | Map
Nearest station: Whitechapel (District, Hammersmith and City, and Overground) Sexual health | Tower Hamlets Council website
There is no hospital based sexual health service in Waltham Forest, you are advised to go to:Sir Ludwig Guttmann Health and Wellbeing Centre | Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust
Olympic Park 40 Liberty Bridge Rd East Village London E20 1AS | Map
Nearest station: Stratford (Central, Jubilee, DLR, Overground and Mainline)
Chemsex support Sexual health | Waltham Forest Council website
WANDSWORTHFalcon Road | Sexual Health South West London
160 Falcon Road, Wandsworth SW11 2LN | Map
Nearest station: Clapham Junction (Overground and Mainline) Sexual health | Wandsworth Council website
56 Dean Street, Soho, London W1D 6AQ | Map
Nearest station: Leicester Square (Piccadilly and Northern lines), Tottenham Court Road (Central and Northern lines)
Chemsex support 56 Dean Express | Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
34 Dean Street, Soho, London W1D 4PR | Map
Nearest station: Leicester Square (Piccadilly and Northern lines), Tottenham Court Road (Central and Northern lines)
Chemsex support Jefferiss Wing | Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
Jefferiss Wing (1st Floor), St Mary’s Hospital, Praed Street, London W2 1NY | Map
Nearest station: Paddington (District, Circle, Hammermith and City, Bakerloo and Mainline)
Chemsex support (via Club Drug Clinic) Sexual health | Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster Council websites Back to top
United Kingdom and the Republic of IrelandSXT | SXT
Sexual Health | NHS
Sexual services in ScotlandSexual Health Scotland | Sexual Health Scotland
Scotland’s Sexual Health Service Directory | NHS Inform Scotland
Sexual services in WalesNHS Direct Wales | NHS Direct Wales
Sexual services in Northern IrelandGUM clinics in Northern Ireland | HSC Public Health
Information and support for people with HIV and AIDS | NI Direct
Sexual services in the Republic of IrelandSexual Health Services | Health Services Executive
Gay Men’s Health Service Information | Health Services Executive
List of free STI clinics in Ireland | Spun Out Back to top
Greater London Services Map
Greater London Services Map
- Accident and Emergency Departments (A&E)
Not all London boroughs have an A&E but this has more to do with how they have evolved and been planned over time.
- Drugs and Alcohol, and Chemsex Services
These are commissioned (provided) by local authorities so you will have to access these services* located in your borough.
- Sexual Health Services and Clinics
Even though there is a drive to use self-test kits, we’ve mapped 30 clinics across Greater London.
- Metropolitan Police Service Stations (Walk-In)
The Metropolitan Police Service website doesn’t provide a list of walk-in stations, so we have.
- Metropolitan Police Service Custody Suites
If you arrested in one Borough, your custody suite may be located in another. We list them because the Metropolitan Police Service doesn’t.
* 56 Dean Street and Antidote that provide chemsex support are London-wide.
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- If you’re going to fuck make sure you have condoms and lube to hand and remove all pets and ex-boyfriends from the area!
- Checking the use-by date first, take the rubber out of its wrapper avoiding sharp/jagged finger nails, teeth and cheap jewellery.
- With a thumb and forefinger pinch the end of the condom as this will get rid of the air and make room for the cum.
- Make sure it’s not upside down or you won’t be going anywhere!
- Roll it all the way down your dick. A hard dick makes this easier to do but it may go soft at this point. Simply work up some steam and – using a new condom, try again later.
- Place some lube on a finger or two and gently work it up his arsehole. He’ll get more pleasure if he’s relaxed and the condom is less likely to tear.
- Smother your dick with lube and ask him if he’s ready before putting it up his arse.
- Enter slowly, checking he’s OK. If you go in quickly you could hurt him. Once inside, off you go… checking occasionally to see that the condom is still in place and intact.
- When you’ve finished, hold the condom at the base of your dick before pulling out. You don’t want to lose it up his arse do you?
- Condoms do make a difference: You can’t feel as much and they can be awkward to use, BUT using them with lube every time you get fucked or fuck greatly reduces the risk of HIV infection and other STIs.
- Condoms help protect against other sexually transmitted infections including gonorrhoea, syphilis, herpes, hepatitis, and NSU.
- Wanking with condoms can also improve your technique and get you used to the idea/feel of using them.
- Don’t leave condoms lying around for children to find as there is a risk of suffocation! Knot it, wrap it in a tissue or loo roll and bin it. (Not down the toilet, it may well bob back up).
- Take a break… put on the kettle… leave… start again… or fall asleep in his arms.
How do I use a condom? | NHS
Durex condom sales jump after virus rules relaxed | BBC News | 21 Oct 2020 How to use a condom | Ending HIV NZ | Mar 31 2017 | 3m 23s
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Condoms: 9 common mistakes
- Not checking the condom packet for damage: Condoms can easily get damaged, especially if they’ve been kept in a wallet, pocket, or bag. Condoms that are damaged won’t protect you from STIs and pregnancy
- Not checking the expiry date: Condoms that are out of date won’t protect you from STIs
- Putting the condom on after sex has started: You need to wear a condom before you start having sex in order for it to do its job. If you leave it to the last minute and only put a condom on just before you come (ejaculate) you’re NOT protected from STIs. If you do this, fluids are likely to have already been exchanged
- Not holding the tip when applying the condom: When you put a condom on, it’s important to squeeze the tip, to get rid of any air. If you don’t, the condom is likely to break
- Putting the condom on the wrong way up, then turning it over: Putting the condom on the wrong way round (so it won’t roll down) is a common mistake, especially if it’s dark! But if you do this, it’s really important that you bin that condom and start again with a new one. Don’t be tempted to just turn it over because the outside of the condom will have touched the penis and so leaves your partner exposed to the risk of pregnancy and/or STIs. Get another condom out and start again
- Taking the condom off before sex is over: Whenever your genital or anal areas are in contact, you should use a condom, to prevent the risk of STI. This includes after you’ve come (ejaculated)
- Using a condom that’s been in a wallet or bag for more than one month: Condoms can get warm when in a wallet or bag and this damages them. If they’ve been in there for more than one month, they are not safe to use. Carrying them with you is a great habit though, so just make sure you replace it at least once a month!
- Not holding the base of the condom when withdrawing the penis: This can cause the condom to come off, which means you’re at risk of pregnancy and/or STIs
- Using oil-based lubricants with condoms (such as Vaseline or moisturiser): Using lubricant is a great idea, but make sure it’s water-based (such as K.Y. Jelly or Durex Play). Other products, not intended for sex, are often oil-based and can eat into condoms, causing them to break.
From tortoise shell to latex
The most effective way to protect yourself and your partner(s) from the risk of infection from sexually transmitted infections (STI) are condoms and water-based lubricant – every time you get fucked or fuck.
We started using condoms around 3000 BC, and have been made out of all sorts of materials:
- tortoise shell (for that extra sensitive, gentle touch)
- oiled paper
- animal gut
Up until the 1930s, rubber condoms were thick, washable and re-usable. However, the development of latex in the late 1930s meant that thinner, disposable condoms could be produced. More recently, we have seen the arrival of a polyurethane condom that is stronger than latex, although more expensive. However, being thinner, sensitivity should be greater, and it is the only condom that can be used with oil-based lubricants.A Brief History of the Condom | Very Well Health | 26 Apr 2020
The History of the Condom | Tingle | 21 Apr 2015 History of condoms from animal to rubber | Wellcome Collection
Condom History | Wikipedia The Humble Little Condom: A History | Anne Collier | Penguin Random House How a condom is made | BillyBoyUSA* | 13 Sep 2011 | 8m 38s
Condom HIV prevention short films (2009-11)Get it on | Durex | posted by robertrugan.com | 2009 | 0m 30s
Loop de Loop – Condoms | posted by Daniel Luke | 2011 | 0m 44s
AIDES Smutley | posted by AIDES | 2011 | 2m 20s
A little tedious, perhaps, but we feel we should clarify that MEN R US has no relationship with any of the condom manufacturers featured in this section and acknowledges there are many many other brands available to purchase online, from chemists, shops and supermarkets, etc… but some are also FREE from many sexual health clinics.Back to top
Stronger condoms have been the bedrock of HIV prevention for many years, though the landscape has changed. Today, there’s a shift to choosing the right condom (which doesn’t necessarily need to be thicker) with good technique and plenty of lubricant.
In 2001, an evaluation concluded that “…there is no evidence from the present investigation to support the use of stronger (thicker) condoms over standard strength condoms among gay men. The appropriate use of additional lubricant should be encouraged.”
Obviously, thicker condoms will lessen dick sensitivity, and although they offer better protection under ideal circumstances, the benefits may be outweighed if your dick is so de-sensitised that you have to ferret around for hours before you can cum. On the other hand, guys often love a good ferret! It’s your choice: if you feel safer and more secure using a stronger and/ or thicker condom, then use them!An evaluation of a thicker versus a standard condom with gay men | Golombok S, Harding R, Sheldon J. AIDS, 2001;15(2):245-250. Back to top
Nonoxynol-9 is widely used in contraceptives for its spermicidal properties (it kills sperm on contact). It has been promoted as a backup method for avoiding pregnancy and to protect against STIs in the event of condom failure.
In the late 1990s, studies have found that condoms with nonoxynol-9 can irritate the lining of the rectum/ arse leading to increased risk of STI transmission, including HIV. Most condom manufacturers in the UK have stopped using N-9, but avoid condoms described as spermicidally lubricated.Lubricants containing N-9 may enhance rectal transmission of HIV and other STIs | Contraception, 2004 | 70(2):107-110
David M Phillips, Kristin M Sudol, Clark L Taylor, Laura Guichard, Robert Elsen, Robin A Maguire
Confusion over use of nonoxynol-9 among gay men in San Francisco despite public warnings | 2003 | NAM Aidsmap
Nonoxynol 9 | Wikipedia Back to top
- ISO Standard is managed by the International Organization for Standardisation; give world-class specifications for products, services and systems, to ensure quality, safety and efficiency; and are instrumental in facilitating international trade.
- CE Mark is a European Economic Area symbol of licence approval. It therefore means that it meets all the requirements of European Legislation.
- BSI Kitemark is the registered trademark owned by the British Standard Institution, an accepted sign of reliability and a significant assurance that a product meets rigorous standards of production and testing.
CE Marking | GOV.UK | Wikipedia
BSI Kitemark | British Standards Institute | Wikipedia Back to top
Latex, non-latex, lambskin and vegan
The majority of condoms are made from two types of latex:
Natural rubber latex
Latex condoms weaken and damage easily when they come into contact with oil-based lubricants and other substances such as baby oil, mineral oil, suntan lotion, cooking oil, baby oil, petroleum jelly, cold creams, skin lotions and, bringing up the rear so to speak, butter or margarine.
A type of plastic (eg: polyisprene and polyurethane) doesn’t irritate people with latex allergies. Though less stretchy than natural rubber latex, synthetic latex condoms can be very thin and be used with oil-based lubricants.
If you or your partner is allergic to latex, options for condoms are less limited. An alternative to latex and non-latex condoms is made from a thin layer of sheep cecum, a part of the intestine. We mention them because you may come across them, but they DO NOT prevent the transmission of viral STIs, including HIV and herpes. On the upside, the lambskin condoms are effective against pregnancy; they don’t trigger latex allergies, are biodegradable and can be used with oil-based lubricants.
To make condoms from raw latex milk, many condoms have casein (an animal product that comes from milk) to create a softer texture – not an issue unless you’re a vegan. While there’s no residue of casein once the condom is made, most manufacturers use it, so most condoms cannot be called vegan.
After a deep dive, we understand the following brands are manufactured using milk thistle:Back to top
Condom considerations and jargon
Whether clubbing, dining, or attending an interview, most of us think about what we will wear. The cut of the clothes, the colour combo, and the impact bring it all together. But when it comes to sex, we can be so fixated on the fuck we forget that the right condom can give you and your partner(s) more pleasure, more security, and more fun.
Not too small, not too large
You shouldn’t really feel a perfectly fitting condom. Too large, and it can slip off (yes: up the arse). Too small it can be impossible to put on (as your dick is choked to death), and it’s more likely to break while fucking. So while condom length is important the cock’s girth (width) should also be considered. More of this later.
- Thickness (usually between 50-100 microns μm)
- Width (width at the head of the condom if it’s not a straight condom).
The choice of condoms is bewildering, and you can start to wonder why you might need an extra thin, non-lubricated, banana-flavoured, slim-fit condom. What is doubly frustrating is that comparing brands is just about impossible. Here are the options:
- Standard condoms have straight sides
- Fitted or trim condoms are slightly narrower below the dick head
- Thinner or sensitive condoms are so you feel more; conversely, some guys will avoid them because they cum too quickly
- Large, XL, or magnum condoms are longer and wider, including over the head of the dick
- Extra strong or stronger condoms are usually thicker, but not always. According to manufacturers, some thin condoms claim to be as strong as stronger condoms
- Textured condoms with ribs and bumps can increase sensation, but not everyone likes speed bumps
- Coloured condoms can make oral sex more fun. Also, they could be a perfect choice for St Valentine’s or St Patrick’s Day, with matching flavours such as strawberry or mint.
- Flavoured condoms are just that, and some of the flavours can be an acquired taste. Who can forget minty mouthful, blow me bubblegum, bangin’ banana, chocolate temptation, blueberry muffin, fizzy cola, blowdom cannabis and succulent strawberry. They are great for oral sex, particularly for guys who are not into fucking
- Non-lubricated condoms are a sensible choice if you don’t like the taste of lubricated condoms. Great for sucking, or you can add the lube of your choice if you’re fucking. Trivia: also used as protective covers for microphones and ultrasound machines and for keeping stuff dry on camping trips.
- Glow in the dark condoms have rather stumped us, but supposedly handy in a dark room? If anyone has an interesting tale to tell, we’d love to hear from you.
- Desensitising, extended play and delay condoms are for guys want to last longer before cumming or for guys who cum too quickly. They use a lubricant that slightly desensitises your dick which makes it a little numb. No harm, of course, but you have been warned.
We have trawled the websites of many well known manufacturers and distributors. While some provide condom length, width and thickness, others seem to be more interested in a sales pitch (for their own brands) and/ or posting customer reviews which are subjective and not necessarily that helpful.Back to top
- Stimulation to make you hard and erect; eg: a vivid imagination, porn, a man
- A place where you will not be disturbed
- A flexible sewing tape or tailors measure OR a ruler and a piece of string
- A pen and paper
- A man (optional)
- A sense of humour (optional)
- Place the tape or ruler along the length of your erect throbbing dick from the base to the tip. Bear in mind rulers often have a few ml at the end which you need to take into account (i.e. discount). Write down the measurement.
- Measure the girth or circumference of your penis with the tape around the thickest part of your dick (or loop the string around then use the ruler to calculate). Write down the measurement.
- Don’t waste it, how about a wank or a fuck?
Matching dick size to condom size
Once you have your dick size (most importantly, its girth or circumference), you would think it would be easy peasy matching this information to the correct condom. Nope. Herding cats would be easier!
By way of an example, let’s use Fred (one of our volunteers) who kindly volunteered his dick stats:
His length erect: 14.4cm (5.7″ inches)
His girth or circumference: 12.2cm (4.81″ inches)
Even if Fred applies his measurements to website condom calculators, results usually show only those brands the site sells. Also, he’s wary about buying a brand he’s not heard of before, or he might already prefer a brand they don’t sell.Made to measure condoms | Condomerie | NL
Condom Calculator | condomsizes.org
Many websites have ‘helpful’ charts showing at a glance that if your dick is ‘X’ wide and ‘Y’ long, your condom size is ‘Z’. But when we compared six sites, we found five different condom width sizes for a dick with a 155mm girth with an 8mm range in difference! That’s enough for a condom to easily slip off a smaller dick or choke a larger one!
Even when you work out your condom size, the information supplied by many major condom manufacturers tends to be variable, confusing or does not exist.
Here is a selection of larger condom brands though there are many more. The trick is to find a condom that fits and meets a recognised standard.Durex
Trojan Condom standards | MEN R US Back to top
Wonders of slippiness
While we’re probably preaching to the converted, arseholes and rectums are not self-lubricating. Though we may feel ‘wet’ at times is a small amount of natural mucus and sweat. Without additional lubricant, when fucking can lead to discomfort, pain, irritation, and infection without lube.
There are several types of lubricant for sex:
- Water-based (for use with condoms).
- Silicone-based (for use with condoms).
- Oil-based (not for use with condoms).
They work similarly to reduce the friction between whatever is going up your arse and the lining of your anal passage. However, you need the right amount of lube to do the job. Too much, and the practicalities of what you’re trying to do become comedic/ faintly ridiculous. Too little, and there is discomfort and pain (to both partners) and a risk of damaging the condom, the arse, or both.
One of the oldest and most natural lubricants is spit, or saliva, especially good for oral sex and wanking. However, it’s much less effective for fucking as it’s water(ery) rather than slippery, so does little to reduce the friction between the cock and the arse hole. However, if you’re already using a water-based lubricant, spit can help re-hydrate the lubricant if it’s starting to dry up.
Spit ‘n’ shove or spit fucking is a visceral, primal form of sex – and can be even hornier if unplanned. There’s also something about the heady mix of pain and pleasure. For some, nothing is sexier than a guy spitting on your hole before going in, or vice versa. There is a memorable scene in the film Brokeback Mountain where Ennis (Health Ledger) uses his spit to fuck Jack (Jake Gyllenhall) which illustrates this perfectly, in our opinion.
- It’s an ineffective water-based lubricant.
- Sexually transmitted infections can be passed on, eg: oral gonorrhoea from mouth to arse.
- Spit ‘n’ shove sex, maybe rougher and more primal. But, like all sex, should be consensual.
Spit can be a powerful driver for sex that feels real with a visceral, physical and emotional connection. What do you think?
Considerations when buying lubricant
- Water-based lubricants tend to be less expensive, while silicone-based lubricants are the most expensive.
- Some brands (eg: ID, Elbow Grease, Boy Butter and Swiss Navy) have a range of lubricants – similarly packaged – so make sure you select the right lube for your needs.
- If you find a lube you like, ask your sexual partner what it is, or maybe a mate about their preference.
- Some lubricants include a “desensitising lubricant” (eg: Benzocaine, a local anaesthetic) or have an “added relaxant” or “menthol numbing ingredient.” Be mindful that ingredients that desensitise or anaesthetise is can mask pain and discomfort, which may indicate damage.
- Check lubricants labelled “flavoured”, “anal”, and “organic” to ensure they meet your requirements.
- Be mindful that the lubricant does not contain anything that might cause an allergic reaction. Unlikely, but always worth checking.
Water-based lubes (for use with condoms)
Water-based lubes are considered the safest all-purpose lubricant choice. They do not damage or weaken latex condoms and, generally, do not irritate the inside of the arse. Particularly since the introduction of glycerine, they have come a long way since KY-Jelly.
Brands include ID Glide, Liquid Silk, Boy Butter H2O, and Elbow Grease H2O, though there are many others.
Unlike silicone and oil-based lubricants, water-based lubricants dry up eventually because the rectum absorbs the lubricant’s water content into the body, leaving a sticky residue.
Insufficient lubricant (of any kind) increases friction which is you may need to apply more lube on the cock/ in the arsehole while fucking.
As a general rule, a cheap-and-cheerful water-based lube will work though dicks and arseholes may need re-lubing. More expensive lubes (often with glycerine) have more slippiness and last longer.When shopping for lubricants, some brands – like ID, Elbow Grease, Boy Butter and Swiss Navy – have a range of water, silicone and oil-based lubricants. So, make sure you select the right one for your needs. Personal lubricant | Wikipedia Back to top
Silicone based lubes (condom compatible)
Brands include: ID Backslide/Millennium, Skins Superglide, Swiss Navy, Gun Oil and Elbow Grease Fusion though there are many others.
Unlike water-based lubricants, silicone-based lubricants don’t dry up because your arse hole and rectum cannot absorb any of the components into the body. However, after sex, your rectum and anal canal can become a bobsleigh run, and shit can slip out unexpectedly.
It can also stain and difficult to wash out bedding and clothing, and it can cause damage to sex toys made of silicone. Silicone-based lubes are safe to use with all condoms, latex and polyurethane.When shopping for lubricants, some brands – like ID, Elbow Grease, Boy Butter and Swiss Navy – have a range of water, silicone and oil-based lubricants. So, make sure you select the right one for your needs. Personal lubricant | Wikipedia Back to top
Oil based lubes (not condom compatible)
Brands include: Crisco and Elbow Grease Original (Cream) though there are many other brands.
Unlike water-based lubricants, oil-based lubricants don’t dry up because your arse hole and rectum cannot absorb any of the components back into the body. However, after sex, your rectum and anal canal can become a bobsleigh run, and shit can slip out unexpectedly.
It can also stain and is difficult to wash out of bedding and clothing.
Oil-based lubricants and related oil-based substances weaken and damage condoms and should not be used together. These include baby oil, mineral oil, suntan lotions, cooking oil, petroleum jelly, butter or margarine, cold creams and skin lotions.When shopping for lubricants, some brands – like ID, Elbow Grease, Boy Butter and Swiss Navy – have a range of water, silicone and oil-based lubricants. So, make sure you select the right one for your needs. Personal lubricant | Wikipedia Back to top
Crisco disco and other notes
- J-Lube (water-based)
Popular gunky lube for guys into fisting. Produced by Jorgensen Laboratories, a veterinary supplier. Yes, J-Lube was designed for animals.
- Elbow Grease Original (oil-based)
Thick and creamy with an “exquisite viscosity” apparently, Elbow Grease by B. Cumming Company hit the market in 1979.
- K-Y jelly (water-based)
Once a staple for gay men, KY has been eclipsed by developments in lubricants but is a recognisable brand just about anywhere in the world.
- Boy Butter (oil and water-based)
Boy Butter Original (oil-based) was launched in 2003, while Boy Butter H20 (water-based) arrived in 2007.
- Butter (oil-based)
Marlon Brando famously used butter in one of the most cringeworthy sex scenes in the history of cinema (Last Tango in Paris). Butter contains casein (from milk) which can become rancid pretty quickly. Or, to put it another way, do you want rotting animal proteins anywhere near your tackle?
Crisco and Crisco Disco
The delicious irony about Crisco is that while mums and grandmas use it to make cakes and biscuits, gay men have been using it for sex for decades.
In 1911, Crisco shortening arrived courtesy of the multinational Procter & Gamble. A cooking improvement over lard, it was made from vegetable oil and helped housewives get better baking results. Apparently, Crisco flaky pie crusts were the pinnacle of home cooking at the time! How gay men worked it out has to be a story in itself, but they started using it as a lubricant for fucking and fisting. The rest is history, as they say.
The Crisco Disco was a New York City disco which ran from the 1970s to 1980s, located in New York’s Meatpacking District, 15th Street and 10th Avenue. A giant mock Crisco vintage can of Crisco shortening was built for the DJ booth which could fit up to ten people. See picture above; source unknown.
- Olive, grapeseed, avocado, and sesame oils (oil-based)
Not our first choice. But plant-based cooking oils should be OK as long as they are higher-quality and not blended with anything else, eg: flavouring agents.
- Margarine (oil-based)
Not our first choice, again. Today’s margarine includes emulsified vegetable oil with water, salt, colouring and stabilisers. If you are using it for sex, find brands with the least amount of artificial irritants.
- Fish oil, lard, dripping, and bacon grease
Just no, no, no and no!
- Baby oil (oil-based)
About as slippery as lube can get. Can double up as a massage oil and smells like “innocence”, apparently.
- Vaseline or petroleum jelly (oil-based)
Doesn’t absorb but stays on top of the skin like a barrier. Doesn’t dry and can get everywhere. At one time, Vaseline was so popular among gay men (latter part of the 20th century) that a cruising ground along a stretch of Central Park was nicknamed “Vaseline Alley”.
- Gun Oil (silicone-based)
Made Empowered Products (USA) with a proprietary, three-molecule silicone blend. Expensive.
Crisco | Wikipedia
Crisco Disco | Wikipedia
Crisco or how to do queer theory with things | Drew Sawyer
Photographs of Crisco Disco (DJ Booth) | Tambourine or Machine Back to top
Statistics and trends
2021GPs urged not to test gay men for STI ‘super bug’ over fears it will become more antibiotic resistant | The Guardian | 16 Mar 2021
Number of LGV cases among gay men in England reach new highs and most cases among men who are HIV negative | nam aidsmap | 6 Jan 2021
2015 – 2020
2020Almost one in ten HIV PrEP users report buying antibiotics for STI prevention, raising concerns over potential antibiotic resistance | nam aidsmap | 20 Nov 2020
Public Health England (PHE) shows the number of annual gonorrhoea diagnoses rose 26% between 2018 and 2019 (from 56,232 to 70,936). Increases in gonorrhoea were reported in:
- gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) from 26,864 to 33,853 (26% increase)
- heterosexual women from 14,167 to 17,826 (26% increase)
- heterosexual men from 13,036 to 15,253 (17% increase)
Research also found that the people most affected by STIs were gay men, who accounted for 75% of all syphilis and nearly 50% of gonorrhoea diagnoses in England. “The report looked into nearly half a million STI diagnoses in 2018 and found cases of gonorrhoea were up by 249% and syphilis up by 165% in the last ten years. “Sexually transmitted infections: UK’s sexual health ‘not in good shape’ | BBC News | 5 Feb 2020
2019One million new STIs every day, says WHO | BBC News | 6 June 2019
People urged to practise safer sex after rise in STIs in England | Public Health England | 4 June 2019
Sex diseases on the rise in England | BBC News | 4 June 2019
Record demand for sexual health services amid spending cuts | BBC 1 Sep 2018
Truvada and the truth: is HIV prevention propelling the STI epidemic?
Several recent studies have linked PrEP with a modest rise in STIs. Traeger’s team analyzed eight studies with 4,400 participants and found that starting Truvada for prevention was associated with a 24% increase in such diagnoses. The US study presented in Amsterdam only found one statistically significant STI-related shift in the cohort: after men stopped PrEP, the diagnosis rate for rectal chlamydia or gonorrhea infections fell by 80%.Truvada and the truth: is HIV prevention propelling the STI epidemic? | The Guardian | 21 Oct 2018
Local councils Struggle to meet surge In demand for sexual health services amid government cuts | HuffPost | 1 Sep 2018
HIV and chronic HCV co-infection prevalence in England highest among MSM | Aidsmap | 15 August 2018
Patients being turned away from sexual health clinics, RCN says | The Guardian | 14 May 2018
‘World’s worst’ super-gonorrhoea man cured | BBC News | 20 Apr 2018
2017Fall in HIV among gay men could spell end for Britain’s epidemic | The Guardian | 22 Jun 2017
Cases of syphilis hit highest level in England since 1949 | The Guardian | 6 Jun 2017
Should we worry about the effect of PrEP on STI rates? | National AIDS Trust | 29 Mar 2017
London clinics report dramatic drops in HIV incidence in gay men: PrEP, early testing and early ART likely to be key | ibase | 27 Feb 2017
New HIV infections in gay men have dropped by a third in England | New Scientist | 3 Feb 2017
Massive drop in London HIV rates may be due to internet drugs | New Scientist | 9 Jan 2017
2015/ 16New STI figures show continued increases among gay men | Public Health England | Jul 2016
Review on Antimicrobial Resistance: Final Report) | May 2016
STI figures show continued increases among gay men | PHE | 5 Jul 2016
Gonorrhoea ‘could become untreatable’ | BBC | 27 Dec 2015
STI rates in London | London Councils | Aug 2015
STIs soaring in gay men – warning | BBC | 23 Jun 2015
Antibiotics (also known as antibacterials) are used to treat or prevent bacterial infections. They work by either killing the bacteria or preventing them from reproducing and spreading. The development of antibiotics has been long and complicated. It wasn’t until the 1940s they were first used; their successful use has been one of the greatest advances in medicine.
However, now due to the overuse of antibiotics, there are some bacteria that are resistant (i.e. they don’t respond) to the antibiotics that worked in the past. It is important that you always use all the antibiotics you are given, even if you feel better as then the treatment is more likely to be successful. It also reduces the chances of the bacteria becoming resistant in the future.
Antibiotics are used to treat chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis, however some strains are now resistant to the antibiotics normally used to treat them, this means it will be more difficult to treat you if you get one of these strains.
Until recently the main way to avoid getting sexually stransmitted infections (STIs) and HIV was to either not to heve sex or to use condoms during sex. However, there are now concerns the sustained and widespread use of PrEP will see a reduction in condom use, resulting in an increase in STIs (other than HIV) at a time when the antibiotics used to treat some STIs no longer work.The antibiotic apocalypse explained | Kurzgesagt (In a Nutshell) | 16 Mar 2016 | 5m 57s Antibiotics | NHS
Antibiotics | Wikipedia
About antibiotic resistance | Antibiotic research UK
Antibiotic resistance | World Health Organisation (WHO) | Nov 2017
Antibiotic resistance | Antibiotic Research UK ‘Extremely drug-resistant’ strain of painful STI shigella is on the rise, worrying statistics show | Pink News | 27 Jan 2022
Hidden pandemic of antibiotic-resistant infections, health officials warn | BBC | 17 Nov 2021
‘We will be dying from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections in a decade’ | EL PAÍS | USA | 25 Jun 2021
GPs urged not to test gay men for STI ‘super bug’ over fears it will become more antibiotic resistant | The Guardian | 16 Mar 2021
The other pandemic: Once-treatable diseases are growing resistant to antibiotics | The Conversation | 24 Jan 2021
Almost one in ten HIV PrEP users report buying antibiotics for STI prevention, raising concerns over potential antibiotic resistance | nam aidsmap | 20 Nov 2020
Lack of new antibiotics threatens global efforts to contain drug-resistant infections | World Health Organisation | 17 Jan 2020
Multi-drug resistant Shigella detected in the UK and USA, mostly in gay men | nam aidsmap | 22 Jan 2019
How dangerous is gonorrhoea resistance and can it be halted? | nam aidsmap | 6 Dec 2018
Chemsex and PrEP reliance are fuelling a rise in syphilis among men who have sex with men | The Conversation | 28 Nov 2018
Keep antibiotics working | Public Health England | 23 Oct 2018
Super-gonorrhoea is here – that means the antibiotic crisis is too | The Guardian | 30 Mar 2018
Antibiotic resistance could take us back to… where 40% of us died from infections | Prof. Sally Davies, Chief Med. Officer for England | Huff Post | 29 Jan 2018
Fifth of prescribed antibiotics are unnecessary, study finds | The Guardian | 27 Feb 2018
Number of new antibiotics has fallen sharply since 2000 | The Guardian | 28 Jan 2018
Not enough new antibiotics are being developed to combat lethal drug resistance, warns WHO | The Independent | 20 Sep 2017
Multi-drug resistant gonorrhoea in England: 2018 | Public Health England (PHE) | 18 Mar 2017
Health matters: antimicrobial resistance | PHE/ GOV.UK 10 Dec 2015
Sepsis is on the rise, warns medical expert | The Independent | 20 Aug 2014
Are you ready for a world without antibiotics? | The Guardian | 12 Aug 2010 The crisis in antibiotic resistance | Harold C Neu | Science, Vol 257 | 21 Aug 1992 Back to top
Understanding HIV and AIDSHow HIV works | NAM aidsmap
Do I understand HIV? | National AIDS Trust (NAT)
What are HIV and AIDS? | Avert
What is HIV? | Terrence Higgins Trust (THT)
What are HIV and AIDS? | LGBT Hero HIV and AIDS History | MEN R US Back to top
There are 4 main types of HIV test:
- Point of care test – a saliva sample or a small spot of blood from your finger is taken in a (sexual health) clinic. This sample doesn’t need to be sent to a laboratory and the result is available within a few minutes.
- Blood test – a blood sample is taken in a (sexual health) clinic and sent for testing in a laboratory. Results are usually available on the same day or within a few days.
- Home sampling kit –a saliva sample or small spot of blood at home and send it off in the post for testing. You’ll be contacted by phone or text with your result in a few days. Visit test.hiv to check if you’re eligible for a free test. If not, you can buy them online or from some pharmacies.
- Home testing kit – a saliva sample or small spot of blood yourself and test it at home. The result is available within minutes. It’s important to check that any test you buy has a CE quality assurance mark and is licensed for sale in the UK, as HIV self-tests available from overseas can be poor quality
If the test finds no sign of infection, your result is “negative”. If signs of infection are found, the result is “positive”. The blood test is the most accurate test and can normally give reliable results from 1 month after infection. The other tests tend to be less accurate and may not give a reliable result for a longer period after exposure to the infection. This is known as the window period. For all these tests, a blood test should be carried out to confirm the result if the first test is positive. If this test is also positive, you’ll be referred to a specialist HIV clinic for some more tests and a discussion about your treatment options.
A positive test result
One of the drawbacks of self/ home testing kits is that you may be alone if the test comes back positive. While some people may take this in their stride, others may feel understandably stressed and worried. You may wish to think about where and when you do the test so that you can find support you need quickly, should you need it. Everyone’s experience of being diagnosed with HIV is different. As the news sinks in and you start to come terms with what it means, you may go through a range of different feelings. You may feel like being by yourself, or being with just your partner, you may want to chat with a close friend, or you may want to speak to a professional counsellor, perhaps at the clinic where you received your diagnosis. You can find our more here.
Free HIV test kitsHIV Testing | Test HIV
HIV Testing | Do It London
Fast Test | Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) *
HIV Testing | Public Health England (PHE) Frisky Wales | Public Health Wales
HIV Self Test | HIV Scotland
HIV testing kits you can buy
Here are a selection of HIV self-testing kits you can buy.HIV self test | Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) | £15 * HIV Self Test | BioSURE | £29.95
HIV Blood Test | Lloyds Pharmacy | £29.95
HIV Test Kit | Superdrug | £30.00
* THT says “We are able to offer tests at a special price of just £15, with free tests available too.”
MoreHIV testing | LGBT Hero
Testing and health monitoring | NAM aidsmap
HIV testing | NHS New highly-infectious and damaging strain of HIV discovered in the Netherlands | Pink News | 5 Feb 2022
Living with HIV: never thought it could happen | Terrence Higgins Trust | 30 Mar 2015 | 1m 31s
HIV testing during COVID-19 (lockdown)New HIV diagnoses in gay and bisexual men in the UK at their lowest in 20 years | Pink News | 3 Nov 2003
Time to test campaign | Campaign | HIV Prevention England | 9 Jun 2020
Covid-19 crisis raises hopes of end to UK transmission of HIV | The Guardian | 13 May 2020
How many people with HIV are getting COVID-19? | Poz | 24 Apr 2020 Back to top
HIV is treated with a combination of drugs called ‘antiretrovirals’, also known as antiretroviral therapy (ART). These drugs work to stop the virus from making copies of itself (multiplying) and so reducing the amount of HIV in the body. Reducing the HIV in your body enables your immune system to recover, giving it a greater chance of fighting off, and recovering from, infections and other illnesses.HIV Treatment | NAM Aidsmap
Introduction to ART | i-base Undectable=Untransmittable | Prevention Access
NAM endorses Undetectable equals Untransmittable (U=U) consensus statement | NAM aidsmap Stimulant Activists to UN: Fund Agonist Research to End AIDS by 2030 | Filter | 11 Feb 2021
Revolutionary new HIV treatment that only needs to be taken monthly has just been approved by the European Union | Pink News | 21 Dec 2020
How HIV treatment works | Body and Soul | 18 Jan 2013 | 3m 30
Understanding CD4 counts and viral loads
Whether you have been recently diagnosed yourself, or if you know somebody living with HIV, understanding even a little bit about CD4 counts and viral loads is worth knowing. For example, you might hear someone say “I’m undetectable and my CD4 count is 781” but what does it mean?
A CD4 count is a blood test that measures CD4 T lymphocytes (CD4 cells) in 1 cubic millimetre of blood. It shows the ‘strength’ of your immune system function to fight off infections. Normal CD4 counts range from 500 to 1,500 cells. A CD4 count of less than 200 is one of the ways to determine if a person with HIV has progressed to AIDS. This doesn’t mean a person is near death, but rather that their immune system is so badly damaged that they would have great difficulty fighting off an infection if one were to come along.
A viral load blood test measures the number of active HIV virus copies (or particles) there are in 1 millilitre of blood. For example, a person not on HIV treatment may have a viral load of several million. A higher viral load means a person will be more infectious to others; eg: through unprotected fucking. The goal of HIV treatment is to bring your viral load down to undetectable levels which is usually regarded as less than 100.
We are oversimplifying but as crude example: A person with HIV infection and not on HIV medication might have (when tested) a viral load of 1,000,000+ and a CD4 of 370. Once on HIV treatment (eg: 3-6 months later) that person would be looking good if the viral load was less than 100, and the CD4 count was 500.
Effective HIV treatment is about keeping your CD4 count high and your viral load low or undetectable. We should also add that CD4 counts and viral loads can go up and down depending on how well your HIV medication is working, whether you’ve another STI, and your health generally. This is not unusual.
The clinic doctors specialising in HIV are very experienced in both telling you what you need to know, and answering your questions and concerns.CD4 and viral load | NAM Aidsmap
How CD4 and viral load are related | i-base Viral Load and Monitoring | Animated HIV Science | 7Nov 2013 | 4m 37s
Take your meds!
Today’s HIV treatments are extremely effective, enabling in the majority of cases a normal life expectancy; particularly if you are diagnosed early (the point of infection). Being on ART also reduces the risk of transmitting HIV to others.
You will need to take your HIV tablets as prescribed, which in most cases is one daily dose, to ensure you have enough medication in your body to keep the HIV in check. So, no messing around and missing doses!
Some people do experience side-effects, which can vary between treatments and individuals, although after a few weeks most usually subside or if they don’t can be alleviated by medication. There is still no cure but for most people HIV is now a ‘chronic condition’, a serious but manageable illness that you will live with for the rest of your life.Adherence and why it is so important | i-base
Why taking your HIV treatment properly is so important | NAM Aidsmap
HIV treatment interactions
HIV Drug Interactions from the University of Liverpool. provides a clinically useful, reliable, comprehensive, up-to-date, evidence-based drug-drug interaction resource, freely available to healthcare workers, patients and researchers. The HIV iChart app gives easy access to our drug interaction information on mobile devices.
HIV Drug Interaction Checker | University of Liverpool
Finding out more
NAM works to change lives by sharing information about HIV and AIDS. It produces useful information that you can trust, and makes sure it is there for anyone who needs it. It believes that having independent, clear and accurate information is vital in the fight against HIV and AIDS. It enables individuals and communities affected by HIV to protect themselves, care for others, advocate for better services and challenge stigma and discrimination.
020 7837 6988 9.30am – 5.30pm, Mon-Friday HIV i-base
Formed in 2000, HIV i-Base is a treatment activist group providing timely and up to date information about HIV treatment to HIV positive people and to health care professionals. All resources are produced by and with the involvement of HIV positive people and are reviewed by a medical advisory group.
0808 800 6013 | Mon-Wed 12-4pm UK Community Advisory Board (UKCAB)
Set up in 2002, The UK-CAB is a network for community HIV treatment advocates across the UK. Among its aims: to develop and strengthen a network of treatment advocates, provide expert training on current treatment issues and develop community representation in clinical trials, and setting the standard of care open to HIV positive people and community advocates.
020 7407 8488 Back to top
HIV and COVID-19
This section first appeared under our COVID-19 chapter in April 2020, together with other sections which we have now integrated into the rest of the website.HIV and Coronavirus | National AIDS Trust (NAM)
COVID-19: i-Base articles and links | i-Base
Covid-19 and HIV | Positively UK
Coronavirus (COVID-19) | Avert
What people living with HIV need to know about HIV and COVID-19 | UN AIDS HIV and COVID 19 | All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Inquiry HIV and COVID 19
Peer led HIV treatment advocates network | UK–CAB
Peer support living with HIV | Plus health
Coronavirus COVID-19 | Terrence Higgins Trust (THT)
Coronavirus (COVID-19) and HIV: Responses to common questions | British HIV Association (BHIVA)
Coronavirus (covid-19): Latest news and resources | British Medical Journal (BMJ)
Sex Date? | Film clip messages | MAN to MAN (Netherlands)
Directory of COVID-19 support services from HIV community organisations
BHIVA is working with NAT to create a directory of COVID-19 support services offered by HIV community organisations. This is in response to requests both from clinics and from members of the HIV community. The role of community organisations is critical at this time, whether providing online or telephone counselling, or advice on other issues arising from the lockdown, such as how to access supplies of food and medication, problems with employment or housing.
Directory of COVID-19 support services from HIV community organisations | BHIVA | NAT
The Food Chain
The Food Chain delivers meals and groceries, offer cookery and nutrition classes and communal eating opportunities to people living with HIV in London and their dependants. Every service user is referred by a health or social care professional who has identified them in need of nutritional support.
The Food Chain | Acorn House, 314-320 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8DP
020 7843 1800
After a HIV positive diagnosis
Everyone’s experience of being diagnosed with HIV is different. As the news sinks in and you start to come terms with what it means, you may go through a range of different feelings. You may feel like being by yourself, or being with just your partner, you may want to chat with a close friend, or you may want to speak to a professional counsellor, perhaps at the clinic where you received your diagnosis.
Once you’ve been told your diagnosis you may want to chat with other people who have are HIV positive. A number of organisations run groups where you can share your experiences with other newly diagnosed people, including groups that are just for gay men. You may not necessarily all be going through the same feelings and emotions, or want to ask the same questions, but these groups can be a usefully way to find support and share experiences.
First steps at the clinic
After your HIV diagnosis, several things are likely to happen:
- You will be subjected to a flurry of medical tests to establish your state of health and to what extent the virus is affecting your immune system.
- If appropriate, you may be offered treatments to reduce or stabilise the level of HIV in your body or treatments to help prevent the development of opportunistic infections.
- Depending on your needs, state of health and circumstances, you will be helped to apply for benefits or put in touch with a social worker or home care support team.
There is sometimes an assumption by professionals that because you are gay you know what to do and where to go. This is, of course, not likely to be true where your new HIV diagnosis is concerned. Of course it may be difficult to gauge whether you’re getting the information you need and want, but if you have any doubts ask – or get a second opinion from a helpline or other organisation.
This can be overwhelming, particularly at a time when there is likely to be a lot on your mind and you may be feeling very stressed and emotional. Spare some thought for how you are feeling. Being HIV positive can play havoc with your emotions. Whether you chat regularly with a mate, attend a group, phone a helpline or seek professional help – don’t ignore your feelings. Some find it difficult to ask for help or accept it, but there’s nothing wrong with getting it or asking for it.
We all need help once in a while – it doesn’t mean that we are weak or incapable. Equally, saying ‘no’ doesn’t necessarily mean you are being awkward – so don’t feel guilty or afraid about saying it. The following tips are designed to make getting help and support easier, and so you make decisions which suit you and meet your needs.
- Try to deal with one thing at a time.
- Find a doctor or clinic you like. If you don’t like them, change them.
- Make decisions in your own time.
- Take at least some time to learn more about HIV and how it could affect you. But you don’t have to become an expert or know everything at once. Knowing more will help you feel more in control.
- Consider how you could make your lifestyle healthier. It may include, for example, changes to your diet, having more fun or doing relaxation exercises. Even if you think you’re a sceptic, give it a chance; you can always go back to clubs, drugs, and ready-made-meals – they ain’t going nowhere!
- Listen to your body, it’s usually pretty good at telling you what it likes and doesn’t like. You may take it for granted but it is your friend, get to know and understand it better.
- If there are changes to be made to your life, they are rarely drastic or wholesale and you don’t have to make them all at once. You have time.
- If you’re attending an appointment, there’s nothing to stop you taking someone with you. A little moral support and another pair of ears can be very helpful.
When you are speaking about your HIV, particularly in relation to HIV services, you may come across people whom you don’t know, don’t like or who don’t seem to understand what your needs are. Here are some tips to get you through:
- Be honest and direct – say what’s on your mind.
- Consider taking notes and preparing some questions beforehand. This way you can take the information away and understand it better in your own time.
- Listen to what is being said and think what you want to say next before opening your gob.
- If you’re getting irritable or angry, say so… then take some deep breaths, take a break, or go to the toilet. If you really can’t handle it, leave. You can always go back when you’re ready.
- If you’re told something which you don’t understand, repeat what’s been said in your own words and ask if you’ve understood correctly.
Just found out you are HIV positive… | i-map Gay Men’s Wellbeing | Positively UK
Just found out you’re positive? | Metro Centre
Support group for HIV+ men | London Gay Men’s Group
Living Well | Living Well Beyond positive online magazine | Beyond Positive
Positive Aging in London Forum (HIV) (PAF)
Living with HIV | Cara Trust
Living with HIV | THT Over 50s LIving with HIV Health, Wealth and Happiness Project | THT
This project supports the financial, emotional and physical well-being of over 50s living with HIV in Brighton, Bristol, London, Manchester and the West Midlands. Whether you’ve been diagnosed recently or have been living with HIV for many years you may find one of its services may be able to help.
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“Al is 26 from Dublin, Ireland and also struggled massively when he was diagnosed a few years ago. “The only shit thing about having HIV is the shock, depression, and anxiety that follows the diagnosis. I felt total panic, thought I couldn’t ever have sex again, that nobody would ever be in a relationship with me. I was severely depressed. I felt lost, lost, lost, for about a year. Doctors were telling me everything would be fine but nothing went into my head,” he recalls. “It all stems from stigma and misunderstanding around HIV”.
The lingering cultural and psychological aversion to HIV belies the incredibly optimistic medical realities. Antiretroviral medication is now so sophisticated that most HIV+ people take one pill a day, which suppresses the virus in the body. This means that HIV+ people on medication have a normal lifespan, live healthily, and can have unprotected sex with their partners without ever transmitting the virus (this is where the slogan U=U, undetectable = untransmittable, comes from).
“I’ve had HIV for six years now and I haven’t sneezed”, jokes Al. “I’m taking the most advanced medication which kills all the HIV in my blood except the dormant cells. I’ve been with my boyfriend (he’s negative) for two years and we don’t have to use condoms because I cant pass the virus on. It’s impossible. Everything is fine”.”What it’s really like being young and HIV+ in 2019 | Dazed | 28 Feb 2019
Telling others your HIV status
People have different reasons for disclosing their HIV status. For some, it may be to get support or health care whilst others might want their sexual partner(s) to know. You might have met somebody and it’s getting serious, you’re in a relationship or you’re in an open relationship. Or, you might be having sex and ‘something’ comes up … questions are asked … or maybe you just feel you need to say something. It could be none of these and something else.
Whatever reaction you get telling others about your HIV status, being HIV positive is nothing to be ashamed of. Hopefully, those you do tell will respond positively but that’s not the whole picture: some people will respond negatively and reject you. This often changes with time, particularly if they are up to date with advances in treatment and undetectable = transmissible for example … and finding out the facts, rather than clinging onto misconceptions, ignorance, and stigmas about HIV.
For some HIV positive gay men, disclosing (telling others) their status can be as stressful or as traumatic as coming out as gay. It is important to think carefully about who you want to tell and why. Once you have told someone about being HIV positive, you cannot take the information back. Coming out is a very personal process and should be your choice.
Obviously, it can feel very natural to want to tell a partner and/ or family immediately but the response may not be what you expect. It certainly doesn’t help to be dealing with other people’s crap while still sorting out your own. If, however, you have decided to come out, the following may be helpful:
- Be aware that telling people may affect you more than you think and they may not react in the way you expect
- People are human: don’t tell people if you don’t want them to tell others
- Try and prepare yourself for the questions they may ask or the issues they may bring up
- Try and choose the right time and place
- Not telling someone about your diagnosis might prevent you getting the medication, support, advice and services you need
How do I disclose my HIV status to potential partners? | i-base
Telling sexual partners about HIV | Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) Things not to say to someone who’s HIV positive | BBC 3 | 15 Sep 2016 | 4m 46s
Should I have to disclose that I’m HIV+ if I’m undetectable? | Kings of Reads | 8 Aug 2019 | 13m 11s Back to top
Undetectable = Untransmittable
U=U means Undetectable = Untransmittable which means if someone with HIV has an undetectable viral load then they cannot pass on the virus through sex. The PARTNER Study says:
“Our results provide a similar level of evidence on viral suppression and HIV transmission risk for gay men to that previously generated for heterosexual couples and suggest that the risk of HIV transmission in gay couples through condomless sex when HIV viral load is suppressed is effectively zero. Our findings support the message of the U=U (undetectable equals untransmittable) campaign and the benefits of early testing and treatment for HIV.”
HIV organisations across the world have joined the U=U campaign to endorse the statement that HIV sexual transmission does not occur when viral load is undetectable on HIV medication or antiretroviral therapy (ART). While the impact of HIV medication on reducing HIV transmission has been known for a long time, it’s new to say ART stops sexual transmission completely. This change is especially important given that prejudice and discrimination against HIV positive people is still widespread.
U=U: Undetectable = Untransmittable | i-base
“An end to the AIDS epidemic could be in sight after a landmark study found men whose HIV infection was fully suppressed by antiretroviral drugs had no chance of infecting their partner. The success of the medicine means that if everyone with HIV were fully treated, there would be no further infections.”
End to AIDS in sight as huge study finds drugs stop HIV transmission | The Guardian | 2 May | 2019
“A study of nearly 1,000 gay male couples in The Lancet found no cases of HIV transmission over eight years. This was due to treatment reducing the virus to very low levels in the body. “Undetectable equals untransmittable” should be basic HIV knowledge for everyone, experts said.”
Gay HIV transmission with treatment is ‘zero risk’, study confirms | BBC | 3 May 2019
“Our results provide a similar level of evidence on viral suppression and HIV transmission risk for gay men to that previously generated for heterosexual couples and suggest that the risk of HIV transmission in gay couples through condomless sex when HIV viral load is suppressed is effectively zero. Our findings support the message of the U=U (undetectable equals untransmittable) campaign, and the benefits of early testing and treatment for HIV.”
Risk of HIV transmission through condomless sex in serodifferent gay couples with the HIV-positive partner taking suppressive antiretroviral therapy | The PARTNER Study | The Lancet | 2 May 2019
What does undetectable = untransmittable (U=U) mean? | namaidsmap
What is an undetectable viral load? | Avert
Can’t pass it on | Terrence Higgins Trust The PARTNER Study | Alison J. Rodger, Valentina Cambiano, Tina Bruun, et al | 12 Jun 2016
Opposites Attract Study | Bavinton et al, and the Opposites Attract Study Group
Consensus statement | Prevention Access Campaign The evidence for U=U: why negligible risk is zero risk | i-base | 9 Aug 2017
Consensus Statement | Prevention Access Campaign | 21 Jul 2017
BHIVA endorses ‘Undetectable equals Untransmittable’ (U=U) consensus statement | BHIVA | 12 Jul 2017
NAM endorses Undetectable equals Untransmittable (U=U) | NAM aidsmap | 9 Feb 2017
U = U is out there | Ending HIV | 16 Dec 2019 | 1m
One of those chats | Ending HIV NZ | 31 May 2018 | 1m
Zero Risk | Dr Carl Dieffenbach | Prevention Access Campaign | 14 Nov 2016
Living With HIV: What you need to know about HIV-undetectable and viral load | GMFA | 7 Sep 2016 | 51s
Undetectable Viral Load & The Sex You Want | Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance | 24 Jul 2017 | 2m 30s
Living older with HIVWhat is “successful ageing” for people living with HIV? | NAM aidsmap | 26 Aug 2017
Uncharted Territory: The first generation growing older with HIV | THT
Living with HIV and mental health | NAM aidsmap Back to top
HIV/ AIDS and COVID-19: Connections
Welcome to a selection of timely and thought-provoking articles about COVID-19 and HIV by people who remember – and lived through – the HIV and AIDS pandemic. They discuss similarities between the two pandemics, flashbacks, isolation and loneliness, survival skills, and lessons to be learnt. We will add more as we find them.
“Report assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on prevention, testing, diagnosis and care for STIs, HIV and hepatitis in England.”
COVID-19: impact on STIs, HIV and viral hepatitis | GOV | 15 Dec 2020
“At the very least, would it not be logical to look towards the struggle against HIV as a learning tool? The mode of transmission may differ from COVID-19, but there are many overlaps with the AIDS crisis: a lack of rigorous testing, a political approach ruled by ideological bias, and a public polarised by inflammatory rhetoric. This would not erase our problems, but perhaps we would be equipped to face them with more clarity. Yet, here we are, 24 years after the AIDS crisis’ peak, when a Lazarus combination of protease inhibitors stopped victims dying en masse, and the commentariat reminisces on warfare and century-old flu.”
Have we already forgotten the AIDS crisis? | Huck Mag | 5 Nov 2020
“And then, this year, the new coronavirus arrived — a second deadly pathogen for them to face some 35 years after the initial horrors they experienced as younger men. For some clients, Ware saw the emotion return in flashbacks. Shock. Fear. Sadness. Fatigue. He saw hyper-vigilance and fatalistic thinking.”
‘Not again’: For gay men in Houston, COVID brings up familiar feelings of AIDS crisis | Houston Chronicle | US | 3 Dec 2020
“One thing I have learned is that I don’t expect anybody else to protect me. I know that I’ve got to do my own self-protection, and I know that I feel better if I’m giving back,” James Cox said. “What HIV taught me is that I’m resilient. Part of that resiliency is passion and purpose.”
Far from over: Long-term HIV, AIDS survivors navigate another pandemic | Street Root News | Jessica Pollard | 24 Jun24 Jun 2020
“Societies facing pandemics move through a version of Kübler-Ross’s famous stages of grief—denial, anger, depression, and so on.”
10 lessons from HIV for the COVID-19 response | Open Society Foundations | Daniel Wolfe | 12 Jun 2020
“I’m living proof that there can be life after a deadly virus. My personal panic about the current coronavirus crisis is interwoven with my memories of facing another virus, HIV.”
I’m an AIDS survivor and Covid-19 is giving me flashbacks | Angela Page HuffPost | 23 May 2020
“In the 1980s and ’90s, AIDS taught us to look after each other, put human dignity first and insist that governments step up. This is no time to defer to power.”
I lived through the AIDS crisis: like then, citizens must take control | Jonathan Cooper | Open Democracy | 17 Apr 2020
“The lessons we learn from this will be useful. Here’s to hoping we don’t put them on a shelf.”
COVID-19 and HIV are not the same. But they’re similar in many ways that matter | HIV/AIDS Resource | Mathew Rodriguez | 9 Apr 2020
“What are the similarities and differences between the HIV and COVID-19 pandemics? In what ways are they comparable? Might it be offensive or “triggering” to those who survived the HIV/AIDS pandemic to compare COVID-19 to this period in time?”
HIV/AIDS in Contrast with the COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons in History | Medium: Think Queerly | 10 Apr 2020
“The Aids crisis has taught us many things – and continues to do so. One of the key lessons is to trust science, and the robust (often long) scientific processes that deliver reliable results.”
Lessons of Aids for COVID-19: Don’t sacrifice science to expediency | The Maverick Citizen | Robin Gorna | 9 Apr 2020
“Some of them are now senior citizens: vulnerable again, mistrustful of government directives about coronavirus and unable to organize.”
For HIV survivors, a feeling of weary déjà vu | New York Times | Jacob Bernstein | 8 Apr 2020
“Informed advocates can be the best response to misinformation, whatever its source.”
COVID-19: The HIV research advocacy movement offers lessons | AVAC | Stacey Hannah | 6 Apr 2020
“The reason that the AIDS movement was able to force the country to change was because we had a collective identity that was global, and people with AIDS joined together.”
Lessons the AIDS epidemic has for Coronavirus | CNN Politics | Sarah Schulman | 5 Apr 2020
“The coronavirus pandemic also dredged up traumatic memories for people who lost friends and family in the HIV/AIDS crisis.”
Isolation and HIV memories hit LGBT+ elderly hard in lockdowns | Rachel Savage and Oscar Lopez | Openly | 30 Mar 2020
“Now, the fear has returned, along with another familiar emotion: resolve. Most people will get through COVID-19, though not unscathed. So here are a few other lessons from living through HIV.”
How to survive yet another plague: I lived through the AIDS epidemic – here’s how to live through coronavirus | Buzz Feed | Mark Shoofs | 20 Mar 2020
“People ask me if our lives today feel like the early years of HIV/AIDS, and I want to scream. There is no comparison. Just stop. No one cared about people dying of AIDS in the early years of the pandemic. The stock market didn’t budge. The President didn’t hold news conferences. Billions of dollars were not spent.”
Stop comparing Coronavirus to early HIV/AIDS. Just stop | My Fabulous Disease | Mark S King | 14 March 2020
The Canada-International HIV and Rehabilitation Research Collaborative (CIHRRC) is an international research collaborative that includes people living with HIV, researchers, clinicians, representatives from community-based HIV service organizations, and policy stakeholders with an interest in HIV and rehabilitation research.
CIHRRC broadly defines rehabilitation as:
“Any services or activities that address or prevent impairments, activity limitations, and social participation restrictions for people living with HIV”[Worthington C, Myers T, O’Brien K, Nixon S, & Cockerill R. (2005). Rehabilitation and HIV/AIDS: Development of an expanded conceptual framework. AIDS Patient Care and STDs, 19, 258-71].
- physical therapy
- occupational therapy
- speech-language pathology
- physiatry (rehabilitation medicine)
- services provided through community-based organizations
Finding out more
If you are living with HIV and/ or getting older you may find CIHRRC’s research both interesting and of value. In addition to the written research, its website includes over 60 presentations filmed by Three Flying PIglets, part of the Gay Men’s Health Collective.Back to top
In many ways, ignorance, fear, and stigma came to define the HIV and AIDS epidemic that swept across the world in the 1980s. It killed thousands some of whom may only have had a few weeks or months from diagnosis to death if they even managed to be diagnosed before they died.
Since the 1980s, the HIV/ AIDS landscape has changed beyond recognition and, with strides in treatment and care, HIV is now considered to be a chronic medical condition rather than the fatal illness it once was.
Unfortunately, people living with HIV have been stigmatised and discriminated against since the virus was first discovered in the 1980s, and it continues today. Stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV remains a major issue.
It appears in many forms and ranges from rejection by friends, family or partners to being physically assaulted. It’s also a distinctly unattractive trait among some gay men using hook-up web apps.
stigma ˈstɪɡmə/ noun
Mark of shame and humiliation often driven by views, beliefs and assumptions we make about people. Makes it more likely that people will be singled out, ostracised, or marked out as strange, different (not in a nice way) and, in some cases, thought of as dangerous. Stigma is crippling, bringing on feelings of isolation, shame, hopelessness, blame, self-hatred, which often prevents people from seeking help and support.
What is HIV stigma?
HIV stigma is negative attitudes and beliefs about people with HIV. It is the prejudice that comes with labeling an individual as part of a group that is believed to be socially unacceptable. Examples include:
- Believing that only certain groups of people can get HIV
- Making moral judgments about people who take steps to prevent HIV transmission
- Feeling that people deserve to get HIV because of their choices
What is discrimination?
While stigma refers to an attitude or belief, discrimination is the behaviour that results from those attitudes or beliefs. HIV discrimination is the act of treating people with HIV differently than those without HIV. Examples include:
- A health care professional refusing to provide care or services to a person living with HIV
- Refusing casual and/ or sexual contact with someone living with HIV
- Socially isolating a member of a community because they are HIV positive
What are the effects of HIV stigma and discrimination?
HIV stigma and discrimination affect the emotional well-being and mental health of people with HIV. People with HIV often internalise (bury inside) the stigma they experience and begin to develop a negative self-image. They may fear they will be discriminated against or judged negatively if their HIV status is revealed. “Internalized stigma” or “self-stigma” happens when a person takes in the negative ideas and stereotypes about people with HIV and start to apply them to themselves. HIV internalised stigma can lead to feelings of shame, fear of disclosure, isolation, and despair. These feelings can keep people from getting tested and treated for HIV.HIV testing | MEN R US
HIV treatment | MEN R US
Understanding undetectable = untransmittable (U=U) | MEN R US
PrEP | MEN R US
What causes HIV stigma?
HIV stigma is rooted in a fear of HIV. Many of our ideas about HIV come from the HIV images that first appeared in the early 1980s. There are still misconceptions about how HIV is transmitted and what it means to live with HIV today. The lack of information and awareness combined with outdated beliefs lead people to fear getting HIV. Additionally, many people think of HIV as a disease that only certain groups get. This leads to negative value judgements about people who are living with HIV.
What can be done about HIV stigma?
- Get the facts and be informed
- Learn HIV basics and what it means to live with HIV
- Having the facts can help reduce misunderstandings and decrease stigma associated with HIV
- Talking openly about HIV can help normalise the subject
- But be mindful of how you talk about HIV and people with HIV
- We can all help end HIV stigma through our words and actions in our everyday lives
In 2009, the United Kingdom was one of the first countries to implement the rollout of the People Living with HIV Stigma Index. This generated 5 reports, which can be found here. Findings were based on peer interviews with community members. Building on the success of the 2009 rollout, the 2015 Stigma Survey continued to engage with community while also gaining NHS Ethics approval, thus creating a more academically robust dataset.The People living with HIV stigma index (UK) | Stigma Index | Public Health England (PHE)
People living with HIV stigma index (worldwide) | Stigma Index
“Many people have fears, prejudices or negative attitudes about HIV. Stigma can result in people living with HIV being insulted, rejected, gossiped about and excluded from social activities. At its extreme, stigma can drive people to physical violence.
People living with HIV often feel nervous about telling others that they have HIV due to the fear of stigma or discrimination. This can lead to isolation and feeling unsupported, which can have a significant impact on health and wellbeing.
Stigma, whether perceived or real, often fuels myths, misconceptions and choices, impacting people’s HIV education and awareness. It can result in people with HIV believing some of the things that other people say about HIV, even when these are not true.”What is stigma? | NAM aidsmap
MoreWhat is stigma? | NAM Aidsmap
Tackling HIV Stigma: What Works | NAT
HIV stigma and discrimination | Avert
Stigma and HIV | Terrence Higgins Trust Tackling HIV Stigma: What works? | NAT | PDF
Using the global evidence base to reduce the impact of HIV stigma The Positive Effect More straight people are catching HIV than gay men for first time in a decade | Metro | 7 Feb 2022
BBC News – HIV: People with virus or taking PrEP to be allowed to join armed forces | BBC | 2 Dec 2021
BBC News – HIV: The misinformation still circulating in 2021 | BBC | 1 Dec 2021
The end of HIV transmission in England is within sight, but we can’t be complacent | The Guardian | 1 Dec 2021
HIV diagnosis: Marlon Van Der Mark tackles stigma | BBC News | 23 Nov 2021
People living with HIV in the media: irresponsible, unhealthy and ‘other’ | nam aidsmap | 8 Oct 2021
The hardest outcome of all: HIV and suicide | nam aidsmap | 11 Aug 2021
Home Office failed to put in place system to protect detainees with HIV | The Guardian | 30 Jul 2021 The single biggest risk factor for gay, bi men becoming HIV positive | Plus | US | 24 Sep 2020
Gareth Thomas and HIV stigma: ‘It takes people like him to fight against it’ | BBC | 15 Sep 2019
Meghan and Harry pay touching tribute to Princess Diana’s HIV work to mark first day of Pride Month | Evening Standard | 1 Jun 2019
Being black and gay: how intersectional stigma impacts on the uptake of PrEP | NAM aidsmap 17 May 2019
HIV criminalisation cases recorded in 72 countries, including 49 in the last four years | NAM aidsmap | 3 Jun 2019
Stigma, access and testing: why HIV is still rising in Europe | NAM aidsmap | 11 Dec 2018
The stigma of HIV still remains | The Guardian | 15 Aug 2013 End stigma around HIV testing, says Prince Harry | Guardian News | Guardian News | 17 Nov 2018 | 2m 11s
Grindr Users Talk About HIV Stigma | Grindr | 9 Oct 2018 | 4m 48s
Living with the Stigma of HIV | BBC Three | 14 Jul 2018 | 3m 25s
Our treatment of HIV has advanced. Why hasn’t the stigma changed? | TED Talks | 25 Jan 2018 | 17m 6s
HIV: living with the stigma | Channel 4 News | 17 Dec 2015 | 5m 12s
Living with the stigma of HIV | Michael Rizzi | 24 Nov 2015 | 6m 48s
The stigma of HIV/AIDS: connecting the dots | RYOT | 21 Apr 2015 | 2m 58s
Luke on HIV stigma | Saving Lives @ Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust | 21 Nov 2014 | 1m 6s
HIV stigma: I have judged.. other people are going to judge me | HIV Foundation Queensland | 16 Jun 2014 | 9m 12s
The day I found out I was HIV positive | ImFromDriftwood | 8 Jun 2012 | 3m 2s Back to top
Fast-Track Cities London: tackling HIV stigma
During the latter part of 2021, Fast-Track Cities launched a £300,000 fund for six projects to deliver empowerment training and personal development to tackle the internal stigma that people living with HIV experience. The six winning projects will be targeting a diverse range of communities typically experiencing higher levels of internalised stigma and less likely to engage with services or search out support. The six contracts have been awarded to the following voluntary and community sector organisations:
- Positive East
Will be offering three targeted courses supported by Action Learning Sets with three groups of people: women, African communities, and gay men from emerging communities.
- 4M Mentor Mothers Network and NAM aidsmap
Will develop a women’s network and virtual training, face-to-face empowerment training and work to consolidate the network, and form a Community of Practice and develop reporting.
- Terrence Higgins Trust
Will deliver four cohorts of peer learning sessions run by people living with HIV. Consist of understanding stigma/self–stigma, understanding HIV and (U=U/ can’t pass it on), building confidence and self-esteem and building resilience for the future.
- The Love Tank
Will recruit, train and support 12 gay men living with HIV (over-serving migrant men, men of colour, men who don’t have English as a first language.
- Positively UK
Will deliver their training programme in partnership with two HIV clinics (North Middlesex and Homerton). Seven topics to dismantling stigma over seven weeks, gradually building knowledge, confidence and connections to promote self-respect, self-acceptance and pride.
- Metro and NAZ
Will deliver an audio-visual project that zeroes in on the experiences of three marginalised groups within Latin American communities; trans people, MSM and women.
Looped in offers people living with HIV in the UK a range of trusted content developed for different audiences – from people living with HIV to friends, sexual partners, family and medical professionals. Looped in allows people living with HIV to select the content they want to share and send it to who they want to.
According to HIV in the UK statistics 2017 from the National AIDS Trust, it’s estimated there are 101,600 people living with HIV and 92% of these people are diagnosed – this still means that around 1 in 12 people living with HIV in the UK do not know that they have the virus. 98% of people diagnosed with HIV in the UK are on treatment. 97% of those on treatment are virally suppressed, which means they can’t pass the virus on. Of all the people living with HIV in the UK (diagnosed and undiagnosed), 87% are virally suppressed.Looped In | National AIDS Trust Looped In | National AIDS Trust | 4 Jun 2019 | 1m 11s
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The Positive Effect
The Positive Effect connects the lived experience of those both managing and preventing HIV with facts and evidence to correct the misinformation and fear that underlies and perpetuates stigma. The website includes stories (film, audio and written), erasing stigma, testing for everyone, care and prevention; and there’s’ a blog.
The Positive Effect is collaboratively designed by scientists, medical experts, community leaders and people with living with HIV in Canada. It promotes authentic, ongoing and high-energy engagement across Canada of those dedicated to wiping out HIV stigma, which impedes testing, prevention efforts, and contributes to further health inequities across communities.The Positive Effect
Filmed in Toronto, Canada, Three Flying Piglets, part of the Gay Men’s Health Collective, is immensely proud to have contributed to the Positive Effect – making a series of short films about HIV Peer Researchers living with HIV, their work and HIV stigma.The Positive Effect Promo | The Positive Effect | June 2018 HIV Peer Researchers in Conversation 1/7 (Wa) | 5m 16s
HIV Peer Researchers in Conversation 2/7 (Pa) | 6m 37s
HIV Peer Researchers in Conversation 3/7 (Ma) | 7m 35s
HIV Peer Researchers in Conversation 4/7 (Ly) | 11m 57s
HIV Peer Researchers in Conversation 5/7 (Ja) | 8m 21s
HIV Peer Researchers in Conversation 6/7 (Ev) | 6m 50s
HIV Peer Researchers in Conversation 7/7 (An) | 4m 44s Back to top
HIV organisations and campaigns
Offers non-judgmental, accessible, peer-led services and support to marginalised and disadvantaged communities in London, recognising that there are significant unmet health needs and health inequalities here.
Instant HIV Testing available for people aged 16 and over who are London residents.Spectra
Spectra Back to top
National AIDS Trust
The National AIDS Trust (NAT) was founded in 1987 as a non-government organisation (NGO) by the Department of Health, in order to deal with the escalating concern with HIV and AIDS nationally. Today NAT’s funding comes from public donations, corporate supporters, grant-making trusts and foundations and its own fundraising work – it doesn’t receive funding from the UK Government. NAT is a policy and campaigning charity, working to improve the national response to HIV through policy development, expertise, and the provision of practical resources rather than through offering direct support services to people living with HIV.
Alarming trend for cutting or completely decommissioning HIV support services
Freedom of Information requests have exposed an alarming trend for cutting or completely decommissioning HIV support services across England and Wales. In England there was an average cut of 28% in expenditure for HIV support services between 2015/16 and 2016/17. The regional variation in cuts is enormous, with some areas entirely losing support for people living with HIV.
NAT also has a comprehensive range of resources available including: HIV in the future NHS, why PrEP is needed, your rights: a guide to human rights and HIV, your voice: a guide to disclosure and HIV, using the global evidence base to reduce the impact of HIV stigma, how NHS overseas visitors charges apply to migrants and asylum seekers in England, preparing for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), and tackling HIV discrimination at work.HIV support services: The state of the nations | National AIDS Trust | Mar 2017
Why we need HIV support services: A review of the evidence | National AIDS Trust | Mar 2017 National AIDS Trust | National AIDS Trust
National AIDS Trust Back to top
GMFA (LGBT HERO)
GMFA was founded in 1992, to address the fact that gay men were the group most likely to become infected by HIV in the UK. At that time, hardly any resources specifically targeted gay men. GMFA quickly earned a reputation for delivering frank, honest and often sexy campaigns for gay men.
For several decades, GMFA was an independent charity dedicated to gay men’s health. Today, its work falls under its parent charity LGBT HERO, the health equality and rights organisation for LGBTQ+ people.GMFA
Health Equality and Rights Organisation (HERO) Back to top
Terrence Higgins Trust (THT)
In particular, the charity aims to end the transmission of HIV in the UK; to support and empower people living with HIV; to eradicate stigma and discrimination around HIV; and to promote good sexual health (including safer sex).Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) Back to top
Positively UK is a national organisation which aims to protect the health and well-being of people living with HIV by providing tailored peer support, promoting positive attitudes and equitable access to health for people living with HIV.
Advances education and research about health, particularly in relation to HIV and campaign against HIV discrimination, increasing the involvement, voice and visibility of people living with HIV in all aspects of life.Positively UK
Positively UK Back to top
Plus Health is a voluntary community project for people living with HIV, their partners, close family friends and carers. Provides free and confidential online peer support and believes universal access to peer support is an essential part of HIV care in its wider sense.
Using online technology people living with HIV have the opportunity to talk with a peer support volunteer who has authentic experience of life with HIV.Plus Health
Plus Health Back to top
Avert was founded in 1986, in the very early days of the HIV and AIDS epidemic; and one of the first charities to give people the information they needed about HIV prevention and treatment and challenge HIV-related stigma.
Today, Avert is an international HIV and AIDS charity providing providing information and education on HIV and AIDS. It partners with organisations in countries most affected by HIV.Avert
Avert Back to top
UK Community Advisory Board (UK-CAB)
Peer-led network which aims to empower people living with HIV and those supporting them with the knowledge, information and skills to become effective HIV treatment advocates for their own health and that of their peers living with HIV. “It is important that people living with HIV understand the treatment options available to them, and are able to make informed and effective choices in partnership with their HIV clinician. We advocate for the meaningful involvement of people living with HIV in all aspects of our care, and work closely with partners across the HIV sector, especially the British HIV Association, to make sure this happens.”UK CAB
UK-CAB YouTube Channel
UK-CAB Back to top
Yorkshire MESMAC is one of the oldest and largest sexual health organisations in the country offering services to various communities across Yorkshire, including men who have sex with men, African and other BAME people, people misusing drugs, sex workers and LGBT+ young people and adults.
The name originally stood for “Men who have Sex with Men Action in the Community”Yorkshire MESMAC
Yorkshire MESMAC Back to top
Since its inception in 1995, TheBody has reliably published vital HIV-related information, news, support, and personal perspectives. We exist to educate the public and serve the HIV community by: providing accurate, clear information on all aspects of the HIV epidemic; publishing and promoting the personal stories and perspectives of the HIV community; partnering with experts and organizations to support people in need of HIV/AIDS information and resources; and combating HIV stigma, silence, and discrimination through the power of vibrant, diverse voices.TheBody | US Back to top
Children's HIV Association (CHIVA)
It works to ensure young people living with HIV have the treatment and care, knowledge, understanding, skills and wider support needed to live well and achieve their greatest potential.Children’s HIV Association (CHIVA)
CHIVA Back to top
The Food Chain
The Food Chain delivers meals and groceries, offer cookery and nutrition classes and communal eating opportunities to people living with HIV in London and their dependants. Inspired by their practical response, hundreds of volunteers deliver its services, supported by a staff team.
People living with HIV often struggle to access the food they need to stay well, because of ill health, poverty, isolation and a lack of motivation to eat well, or limited skills or knowledge.
Every service user is referred by a health or social care professional who has identified them in need of nutritional support. Each service user receives a personalised nutrition care plan designed specifically to meet their needs. By offering a tailored package of support, at the appropriate time, The Food Chain helps people to lead healthy, independent lives.The Food Chain | Acorn House, 314-320 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8DP
020 7843 1800 Back to top
International HIV Partnerships (IHP)
Project generator, think tank, consultancy, networking, mentorship and administrative resource. Supports, builds and implements visionary advances towards sexual health, mental health and social wellbeing. Forges partnerships for action and platforms for dialogue, resource sharing, mutual mentorship and planning, with HIV, HCV and other community, clinical, research, government and industry leaders.
In 2012, IHP convened ReShape, a think tank to reshape the response to new and longstanding treatment opportunities like combination prevention, PrEP and HCV drug access and challenges like ageing, problematic chemsex, sexual health and social well-being.International HIV Partnerships (IHP)
European Chemsex Forum
European Chemsex Forum Back to top
European Testing Week
European Testing Week is a European campaign that encourages partner organisations — in community, health care and policy institutions — throughout Europe to unite for one week twice a year to increase testing efforts and promote awareness of the benefits of earlier hepatitis and HIV testing.
This initiative has progressed since its start in 2013 and has grown to be a widely recognised European event, with hundreds of organisations participating every year. What once started as an annual event has now become a biannual event, with two ETWs occurring each year in Spring (May) and Autumn (November). Each organisation volunteers their own time to organise their Testing Week activities and create incredible displays of a united effort to increase testing awareness at all organisational levels.
Now in its tenth year, the European Testing Week initiative will host the Spring and Autumn ETWs on the following dates:
- Spring ETW: 16 – 23 May 2022
- Autumn ETW: 21 – 28 November 2022
Fast track cities London
The Fast-Track Cities initiative is a partnership of organisations, including the Mayor of London, NHS England, Public Health England and London Councils committed to working with partners across the city to reach the following goals by 2030:
- End new HIV infections in the capital
- Put a stop to HIV-related stigma and discrimination
- Stop preventable deaths from HIV-related causes
- Work to improve the health, quality of life and well-being of people living with HIV across the capital
Fast Tracks Cities London goes on to say “London is already leading the way in diagnosis and treatment, but now we want to be the first city in the world to end new cases of HIV. We want to get to zero new HIV infections, zero preventable deaths and zero stigma by 2030, making sure everyone with HIV is living well.Fast Track Cities London
The Fast Track Cities initiative global partnership
The Fast Track Cities initiative is a global partnership between cities and municipalities around the world and four core partners:
- International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC)
- Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
- United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)
- City of Paris
Launched on World AIDS Day 2014, the network has grown to include more than 300 cities and municipalities that are committed to attaining the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets by 2020:
- 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status
- 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy (ART)
- 90% of all HIV-diagnosed people receiving sustained ART will achieve viral suppression. Achieving zero stigma is the initiative’s fourth, but no less important, target.
Mayors and other cities/ municipal officials designate their cities as Fast Track Cities by signing the Paris Declaration on Fast-Track Cities which outlines a set of commitments to achieve the initiative’s objectives.
Initially heavily focused on the 90-90-90 targets, the Paris Declaration was recently updated to establish attainment of the three 90 targets as the starting point on a trajectory towards getting to zero new HIV infections and zero AIDS-related deaths.
Tackling HIV stigma (2021-22)Fast-Track Cities London: tackling HIV stigma
Evolving the Care of People Living with HIV in London | PDF | October 2021
Fast Track Cites Global Wed Portal | Fast Track Cities
Fast Track Cities Initiative Healthy London Partnership
Fast Track Cities the global HIV initiative | London Councils
Fast Track Cities | UN AIDS HIV and AIDS in the United Kingdom (UK) | Avert Stigma focus (Fast Track Cities Initiative) | Healthy London Partnership | 17 Jan 2020 | 1m 59s
HIV Fast Track Cities | Nov 30 2016 | 3m Could UK HIV transmissions really go down to near-zero by 2030? The latest report suggests so | nam aidsmap | 16 Jan 2020
HIV infections among gay and bi men fall by 71% in UK | BBC News | 16 Jan 2020
UK Government to commit to ending new HIV transmissions in England by 2030 | THT | 30 Jan 2019
New PHE stats show UK has reached UN’s HIV target for 2020 – Terrence Higgins Trust response | THT | 29 Nov 2019
Political leadership is key to securing Fast Track Cities goals | National AIDS Trust | 17 Oct 2019
Cities getting to 90-90-90 and beyond | The Lancet | 1 Oct 2019
UK meets UN target in drive to end HIV epidemic | The Guardian | 29 Nov 2018
London joins Fast-Track Cities initiative to reduce new HIV infections | The Mayor of London | 10 Jan 2018
Global Strategy Health Sector Strategy Sector on HIV 2016 2016–2021 | WHO | Jun 2016 Back to top
Do It London
Do It London is an on-going campaign delivered and coordinated by the London HIV Prevention Programme (LHPP) is a London-wide sexual health promotion initiative. It aims to increase HIV testing and promote prevention choices to Londoners. The programme is funded by 31 London boroughs and managed on their behalf by Lambeth Council. As well as our city-wide Do It London campaigns, the LHPP also provides a free condom distribution, outreach and rapid HIV testing service for men who have sex with men (MSM). This service is delivered by GMI Partnership and Freedoms. It also commissions online sexual health outreach and advice via websites and apps.
Useful links include: finding an HIV testing centre near you, finding a sexual health clinic near you, HIV self-sampling kits, HIV self-testing kits, HIV testing, condoms, information about PrEP, and achieving undetectable status.Do It London | London HIV Prevention Programme (LHPP)
Back to top
Cat or There are Many Ways to Prevent HIV | Three Flying Piglets for MENRUS.CO.UK | July 2018 | 1m
Eurasian Coalition on Male Health (ECOM)
Membership-based association, open for non-profits and individuals working in the field of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention and treatment for gay men and other men who have sex with men, and transgender people, in the region of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA).
Currently, the network is made up of 76 members from 19 countries, ranging from Estonia to Tajikistan.ECOM Back to top
APCOM represents a diverse range of interests working together to advocate on, highlight and prioritise HIV issues that affect the lives of men who have sex with men (MSM)* and transgender people, including rights, health and well-being.APCOM
About APCOM | 11 Jul 2018 | 2m 19s Back to top
MPact Global Action
MPact Global Action for Gay Men’s Health and Rights was founded in 2006 as The Global Forum on MSM and HIV (MSMGF) by an international group of activists who were concerned about the disproportionate HIV burden being shouldered by gay and bisexual men.
Advocates for equitable access to effective HIV prevention, care, treatment, and support services for gay men and bisexual men, including those living with HIV, while promoting their health and human rights worldwide.MPact Global Action for Gay Men’s Health and Rights
Welcome to MPact | MPact | 17 Jul 2018 | 1m 8s Back to top
Youth Stop AIDS
Youth-led movement campaigning for a world without AIDS (previously called Student Stop AIDS Campaign). It’s a network of young people across the UK speak out, take creative action and engage those in power to ensure that governments, global institutions and corporations are committed to ending AIDS by 2030.Youth Stop AIDS
Youth Stop AIDS
Youth Stop AIDS Back to top
National HIV Story Trust
The stories of those involved are already in danger of being forgotten, yet the epidemic is the most significant event in modern-day LGBTQ+ life and continues to affect the community and its history today. It changed the way that people were cared for and died and also importantly it changed the way we live now. AIDS probably advanced gay rights more than anything else in history and many of the freedoms the LGBTQ+ community enjoy today are due to the changes the AIDS pandemic instigated.National HIV Story Trust Back to top
A historic visual archive of promotional campaigns and graphic ephemera, compiled in order to examine changes in health promotion approaches, messages and concerns around HIV/AIDS in the UK and Republic of Ireland, acting as a reference source for the development of future communications.
It is not intended to be a complete or comprehensive collection, but to offer a supplementary visual reference source for those interested in the design of HIV/AIDS materials.Graphic Communication | A UK HIV/AIDS Design Archive
Graphic Communication | A UK HIV/AIDS Design Archive | Siân Cook Back to top
HIV Story Project
Founded in 2009, The HIV Story Project is a San Francisco based non-profit organisation focused on bridging HIV/AIDS with film, media and storytelling to fight the pandemic and the global stigma associated with it.
Generations HIV is a digital media experiment recording video questions, answers and stories by people from all walks of life about HIV/AIDS. Whether HIV+ or HIV-, a loved one or a caregiver, we have all been impacted and affected by this global health pandemic, and we all have a story to tell.Generations HIV | HIV Story Project Back to top
LGBT+ rights and HIV and sexual health
International HIV organisations focusing on the health and well-being of gay men and men who have sex with men including HIV prevention, HIV treatment, advocacy, support services and promoting their health and human rights, and storytelling to fight the pandemic and the global stigma associated with it.
Contact us here if you know of an organisation we should include.
You may be interested in our section on LGBT+ rights.
Though there has been progress in the past 50 years or so for LGBT people around the world, it remains a divisive, religious, and political issue.
While some countries have decriminalised homosexuality, outlawed homophobic hate crimes and over 20 countries recognise same-sex marriage; others are becoming increasingly oppressive, and brutal, like Chechnya.
Having sex with someone of the same sex remains illegal in over 70 countries, and punishable by death in 10. We’ve pulled together a number of organisations working to promote equality, though it’s worth remembering that LGBT human rights campaigners risk violence, discrimination, and arrest.LGBT+ Rights | MEN R US Back to top
UK HEALTH SECURITY AGENCY
UK Health Security Agency
Replacing Public Health England in 2021, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is a government agency for UK-wide public health protection, eg: infectious diseases, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents and other health threats, and falls under the Department of Health and Social Care.
While some welcomed the change, the timing of the reorganisation, during the COVID pandemic, was criticised by health experts and other bodies, including the editorial in the BMJ, the Institute for Government, the King’s Fund, and Christina Marriott, the chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health.King’s Fund | 20 Aug 2020
BMJ | 19 Aug 2020
Institute for Government | 19 Aug 2020
Royal Society for Public Health | 18 Aug 2020
A Guardian editorial compared it to “reorganising a fire brigade as it tries to put out a blaze” and said the decision had been made without proper consultation or scrutiny. The editorial goes on to say ” Research from the Health Foundation showed a reduction of almost 25% in public health spending per person between 2014-15 and 2019-20. PHE itself has an annual budget of just £300m – compared with the £10bn given to Serco, Sitel and other companies for test and trace, with very poor results.”The Guardian | 18 Aug 2020 UK Health Security Agency | GOV.UK
UK Health Security Agency | GOV.UK UK Health Security Agency | Wikipedia
Public Health England (PHE) | Wikipedia Back to top
HIV and the law, and human rights
HIV and human rights
There is a very strong link between HIV and human rights and – for many years – activists have been advocating that an effective response to the HIV epidemic can only happen with full respects of human rights. For example, human rights abuses are one of the drivers of the HIV epidemic and increase its impact while, at the same time, HIV undermines progress in the realisation of human rights.
What are human rights?
Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.
In the UK they are protected by the Human Rights Act 1998. The Act gives effect to the rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. They include:
- Your right to life
- Your right to respect for private and family life
- Your right to personal liberty
- Your right not to be tortured or treated in an inhuman way
- Your right to a fair trial
- Your right to freedom of religion and belief
Human rights | Wikipedia
Human rights and HIV
The relationship between HIV and AIDS and human rights can be highlighted in several areas:
- Increased vulnerability of certain groups more vulnerable to contracting HIV because they are unable to realise their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
- Through discrimination and stigma, the rights of people living with HIV often are violated because of their presumed or known HIV status. This causes them to suffer both the disease and the consequential loss of other rights. Stigmatisation and discrimination may obstruct their access to treatment and may affect their employment, housing and other rights.
- Strategies tackling the epidemic are hampered where human rights are not respected. For example, discrimination against and stigmatisation of vulnerable groups such as people who inject drugs, sex workers, and men who have sex with men drives these communities underground.
Fast track cities
Fast Track Cities is committed to attaining the HIV UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets by 2020:
- 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status
- 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy (ART)
- 90% of all HIV-diagnosed people receiving sustained ART will achieve viral suppression. Achieving zero stigma is the initiative’s fourth, but no less important, target.
HIV prevention, testing and treatment services can and should be grounded in human rights. Beyond being an imperative in themselves, human rights principles and approaches are critical to addressing barriers to HIV services and to achieving HIV targets. Human rights principles and approaches will help maximize the reach and impact of HIV prevention, testing and treatment programmes. They also will help address potential human rights challenges and prevent abuses that may occur in the context of urgent efforts to Fast- Track the achievement of HIV prevention, testing and treatment targets.
Publications, information, and equality and human rights organisationsA guide to human rights and HIV | NAT
Human rights and HIV | Avert Equality and human rights Commission
Scottish Human Rights Commission
Equality and human rights Commission Wales
Equality Commission for Northern Ireland
Equality and advisory and support services
Fast Track Cities | MEN R US
News and articlesLiving with HIV is still a burden, Dutch gay and bisexual men tell researchers | nam aidsmap | 3 Nov 2020
HIV criminalisation laws around the world | nam aidsmap | June 2020
COVID-19 and threats to human rights: another HIV parallel | i-base | 17 Apr 2020
Is HIV a disability in the UK? | namaidsmap | Feb 2020
UAE prisoners denied HIV treatment – Human Rights Watch | BBC | 6 Nov 2019
Human rights and HIV: campaigning to end discrimination | The British Institute of Human Rights | 20 Mar 2018
Europe’s shifting response to HIV/AIDS: from human rights to risk management | Health and Human Rights Journal | 22 Nov 2016
Sex work, HIV and human rights | Stop AIDS | June 2015
Human rights and HIV | Speaking Up | 14 Jul 2010 The criminalisation of HIV transmission in the UK | Centre for Invention and Social Process (CISP), Goldsmiths, University of London
Sustaining the human rights response to HIV | UNAIDS | 2015
Judging the epidemic | A judicial handbook on HIV, human rights and the law | UNAIDS | 2013
Memorandum from the UK AIDS and Human Rights Project | UK Parliament | Joint Committee on Human Rights Written Evidence
International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights
The International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights arose because of various calls for their development in light of the need for guidance for Governments and others on how to best promote, protect and fulfil human rights in the context of the HIV epidemic.
International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights | UNAIDS | 2006
HIV/AIDS and Human Rights
Human rights are inextricably linked with the spread and impact of HIV on individuals and communities around the world. A lack of respect for human rights fuels the spread and exacerbates the impact of the disease, while at the same time HIV undermines progress in the realisation of human rights.
HIV/AIDS and Human Rights | United Nations Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 (General Assembly resolution 217 A) as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected and it has been translated into over 500 languages.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights | United Nations
HIV and the law
There is no law saying you must tell people you have HIV if you are having protected sex, and it’s your choice whether you tell sexual partners whether you have HIV or not. However, you may be prosecuted and found guilty of reckless HIV transmission if all of the following apply:
- You knew you had HIV
- You understood how HIV is transmitted and that you might be infectious
- You had sex with someone who didn’t know you had HIV
- You had sex without a condom
- You are the only the person who could have transmitted HIV to that person.
Meaning of the word reckless
- “Marked by lack of proper caution; careless of consequences.”” (Merriam-Webster)
- If you say that someone is reckless, you mean that they act in a way which shows that they do not care about danger or the effect their behaviour will have on other people.” (Collins)
- “A person whos actions are putting the people around him in harms way.” (Urban Dictionary)
- “Heedless of danger or the consequences of one’s actions; rash or impetuous.” (Google)
As you can imagine, criminal law is complicated and there are variations for England and Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland.Introduction to the legislation | nam aisdsmap
Frequently asked questions regarding criminal liability for HIV transmission | nam aidsmap
Man jailed for life after deliberately infecting men with HIV | The Guardian | 18 Apr 2018
Daryll Rowe’s sentence could change the law’s approach to HIV transmission | The Conversation | 19 Apr 2018
Daryll Rowe guilty of infecting men with HIV | BBC | 15 Nov 2017
Why NAT opposes prosecutions for reckless HIV transmission | National AIDS Trust (NAT) | April 2010
HIV: A Guide for Police Forces | National AIDS Trust (NAT) | Jun 2014
MoreHIV and the law | LGBT Hero Intentional or reckless sexual transmission of infection | Criminal Prosecution Service (CPS)
Law Commission considers HIV criminalisation in great depth, but recommends no change | HIV Justice Network | 9 Nov 2015 Sexual Offences Act 2003 | Wikipedia
Sexual Offences Act 2003 | legislation.co.uk | The National Archives Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (OAPA 1861) | Wikipedia
Criminal transmission of HIV | Wikipedia
Back to top
Main provisions of the Sexual Offences Act 2003
Sexual Offences Act 2003 | The Guardian | Opinion A-Z of legislation | 15 Jun 2009
- Clearly defines “consent” as a person consents if she/he agrees by choice and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice. Sets out evidential and conclusive presumptions about consent.
- Reclassifies rape as the penetration by the penis of somebody’s vagina, anus or mouth, without consent.
- Creates a new offence of assault by penetration, the insertion of a body part or foreign object, such as a bottle, into the anus or vagina without consent.
- Redefines sexual assault as an intentional sexual touching without consent. It can include touching any part of the body, clothed or unclothed, by either a body part or an object.
- Sets the age of a “child” at 18, amending the Protection of Children Act 1978, and provides a defence for all sexual offences when the child is 16 or over and the relationship is consensual.
- Classifies any sexual intercourse with a child aged 12 or younger as rape.
- Establishes a raft of new criminal offences including crimes involving familial sexual abuse, offences involving adult relatives and offences designed to give protection to persons with a mental disorder.
- Re-enacts the offences of abuse of a position of trust towards a child. This prohibits sexual contact between adults and children under 18 in schools, colleges and residential care.
- Creates a number of offences related to “intent” including a new offence targeting drinks spiking.
- Makes it an offence to give someone a substance without their consent and with the intention of stupefying or overpowering them so that any kind of sexual activity can take place. Two other “intent” offences cover situations where a person commits any offence with the intention of committing a sexual offence or where a person is a trespasser, he intends to commit a sexual offence on the premises and he knows that he is a trespasser,
- Creates several new initiatives to protect children and the general public from sex offenders. The act allows dual criminality, meaning notification orders can be extended to those convicted abroad, and creates a civil order, the sexual offences prevention order, which combines sex offender orders (Crime and Disorder Act 1998) and restraining orders (Sex Offenders Act 1997).
- Requires convicted sex offenders to register with their local police every year instead of every five years.
- Introduces risk of sexual harm orders, specifically designed to protect children, and also creates foreign travel orders, which can be used to prevent an offender with a conviction for a sex offence against a child from travelling to countries where he is at risk of abusing children.
- A new offence of voyeurism relating to those who observe others doing private acts without their knowledge for sexual gratification.
- Decriminalises a series of sexual acts including the offences of gross indecency, buggery and soliciting by men (cruising).
- Makes necrophilia and bestiality crimes.
HIV and AIDS history
HIV and AIDS History
“A heartrending novel about two gay teens coming of age in New York – perfect for fans of It’s a Sin and Adam Silvera. It’s 1990 in New York City. Adam is falling in love for the first time. Ben is leaving home for the last. Drawn by the city’s irresistible energy, the boys are swept up into the queer scene, where the potential for life and love seems limitless. But as the shadows of prejudice gather, Ben and Adam discover how their newfound community is facing the looming threat of AIDS, which will touch their lives more closely than they ever could have imagined. Heartbreaking yet hopeful, When You Call My Name tells the story of the moments that break our hearts and the people who make us whole – and shows how together we burn brightest in times of darkness.”When You Call My Name | Tucker Shaw | Penguin Books | 2022
It’s a Sin
Five part drama written by Russell T Davies following the lives of a group of gay men in London in 1981 on the cusp of the HIV and AIDS epidemic.
“It’s a Sin” is about AIDS in England & Americans should remember that when they watch it | LGBT Nation | 5 Mar 2021
‘It‘s a Sin’ taught me I need to confront shame as a gay man | Huck | 18 Feb 2021
The Unique Catharsis of ‘It’s a Sin’ | Vice | 1 Feb 2021
‘It Would Be Friends Of Friends, Then Your Friend’: The It’s A Sin Era, Remembered By Those Who Survived It | Huff Post | 29 Jan 2021
It’s a Sin is a love letter to 1980s gay culture – and hate mail to the era’s homophobic hegemony | BFI | 22 Jan 2021
It’s a Sin review – Russell T Davies Aids drama is a poignant masterpiece | The Guardian | 22 Jan 2021
Meet the Exuberant Young Stars of Russell T Davies’s New ’80s-Set Drama, ‘It’s A Sin’ | Vogue | 11 Jan 2021
It’s A Sin (Trailer) | Channel 4 | 7 Jan 2021 | 2m 30s
HIV and AIDS History from Wikipedia, Avert and the Terrence Higgins Trust
HIV/ AIDS in the United Kingdom | Wikipedia
History of HIV and AIDS overview | Avert
Our History: Terrence Higgins Trust | Terrence Higgins Trust
How Edinburgh became the AIDS capital of Europe
In the mid-1980s Edinburgh became known as the Aids capital of Europe. A new deadly disease, cheap heroin and the hardline attitudes of the authorities were the ingredients for a public health disaster.
How Edinburgh became the AIDS capital of Europe | BBC | 1 Dec 2019
How a typo created a scapegoat for the AIDS epidemic | Maclean’s
A 1984 study planted the seed that would lead the media to falsely demonize Gaëtan Dugas as Patient Zero of an epidemic that would kill more than 700,000 people in North America.
How a typo created a scapegoat for the AIDS epidemic | Maclean’s | 17 Apr 2019
COVID-19: Patient zero: why it’s such a toxic term | The Conversation | 1 Apr 2020
The VITO Project
Created in association with the Cinema Museum to promote dialogue between different generations of LGBTs. The series provides an alternative space for LGBTs of all ages to watch films and share ideas.
The VITO Project | ReShape
Vito Russo | Wikipedia
The End Of Innocence | BBC/ Fine Cut | 1995
In 1995, the BBC made a documentary based on the book by Simon Garfield (see below) highlighting the shameful attitudes of the British public and politicians during the 80s and early 90s towards HIV/AIDS awareness, education and gay men.
The End of Innocence, part 1/ 6 | BBC Documentary/ Fine Cut | 1995
The End of Innocence, part 2/ 6 | BBC Documentary/ Fine Cut | 1995
The End of Innocence, part 3/ 6 | BBC Documentary/ Fine Cut | 1995
The End of Innocence, part 4/ 6 | BBC Documentary/ Fine Cut | 1995
The End of Innocence, part 5/ 6 | BBC Documentary/ Fine Cut | 1995
The End of Innocence, part 6/ 6 | BBC Documentary/ Fine Cut | 1995
Forty films with HIV and AIDS storylines and/ or themes
Links to Wikipedia
Who’s to say what makes a film worth watching, but one of our volunteers fancies himself as a bit of a film critic and has put a star next to the films which are some of his favourites.
- An Early Frost (1985)
- Parting Glances (1986)
- Tongues Untied (1989)
- Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt (1989)
- Longtime Companion (1989)
- The Living End (1992)
- Peter’s Friends (1992)
- Zero Patience (1993)
- And the Band Played On (1993)
- Philadelphia (1993)
- The Cure (1995)
- Jeffrey (1995)
- Kids (1995)
- Boys On the Side (1995)
- It’s My Party (1996)
- The Line of Beauty (1996)
- Drôle de Félix (2000)
- The Hours (2002)
- The Trip (2002)
- Angels in America (2003)
- Rent (2005)
- A Home at the End of the World (2004)
- Life Support (2007)
- The Witnesses (2007)
- Born in 1968 (2008)
- Precious (2009)
- We Were Here (2011)
- How to Survive a Plague (2012)
- Philomena (2013)
- Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
- The Normal Heart (2014)
- Holding the Man (2015)
- 120 BPM (2017)
- Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
- Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo (2017)
- United in Anger: A History of ACT UP (2012)
- Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)
- 1985 (2018)
- Mapplethorpe (2018)
- Every Act of Life (2018)
AIDS: Doctors and Nurses tell their Stories (2017) | Gay Films | 2 Mar 2019 | 26m
Out on Tuesday: Section 28; UK AIDS Campaign; “Playing Gay” | kurvapicsa | 5 Aug 2014 | 51m 30s
Dr Fauci on 30 years of AIDS | HIV Gov (USA) | 31 Aug 2011 | 47m 7s
ACT UP was formed in response to social neglect, government negligence and the complacency of the medical establishment during the 1980s. Soon it found itself needing to fight corporate greed, lack of solidarity and various forms of stigma and discrimination at home and abroad. Works to improve the lives of people with AIDS through direct action, medical research, treatment and advocacy, and working to change legislation and public policies.ACT UP New York
AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) | Wikipedia
ACT UP Historical Archive
Lessons from a new history of ACT UP: An interview with Sarah Schulman | The New Inquiry | 13 Sep 2021 Radical AIDS Activist Group ACT UP | Flashback | NBC Out | 19 Oct 2016 | 1m 20s
ACT UP & ACT NOW seize control of the FDA | Suchislifevideos | 18 Jun 2014 | 29m 51s
ACT UP – A documentary in progress | Scot Robbe | 29 Oct 2010 | 3m 21s
Larry Kramer 20th Anniversary ACT-UP AIDS Coalition Unleash Power | LGBT Center NYC | 20 Jun 2009 | 8m 24m
ACT UP London
“In the fourth decade of this crisis, we fight to ensure comprehensive and easily accessible treatment for all people, in all countries. This includes not only medications but also mental and social health services as well as housing and economic equality. Here in the UK, we are united with the coalition of activists fighting to keep our National Health Service free, publicly run, and fully funded. In a time of rising infection rates, we challenge anyone who would hinder or cut back on life-saving services around safer sex, education, clean needles and all other HIV prevention measures. And in a time of continuing stigma, silence, and isolation, we combat discrimination against and promote the visibility and leadership of those living with HIV and AIDS.”ACT UP London
ACT UP London Back to top
World AIDS Day
Since 1988, 1 December every year is dedicated to World AIDS Day, raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection, to show solidarity with people living with HIV, and mourning those who have died.What is World AIDS Day? | nam aidsmap
World AIDS Day | National AIDS Trust
World AIDS Day | United Nations (UN)
World AIDS Day | Wikipedia
For many, 1 December is associated with the red ribbon which has become an instantly recognisable symbol.
The red ribbon
The red ribbon is a symbol of solidarity and of the commitment to the fight against HIV and AIDS. The Ribbon Project was conceived in 1991 by Visual AIDS, a New York-based charity group of art professionals that aims to recognize and honour friends and colleagues who have died or are dying of AIDS. The ribbon made its public debut at the 1991 Tony Awards, but since then – in some circles – has become a popular and politically correct fashion statement for celebrities at other awards ceremonies. Because of this popularity, some activists have rightly worried that the ribbon is simply paying lip service to AIDS causes. Nevertheless, it is a powerful symbol for all of us around the world, and a unifying symbol on World AIDS Day (1 December). Today, the red ribbon is an international symbol and, for many, stands for care, concern, hope and support.
The Red Ribbon | National AIDS Trust (NAT)
Red ribbon | Wikipedia
The Red Ribbon Project | Visual AIDS
AIDS Memorial Quilts (UK and USA)
The section looks at the AIDS Memorial Quilt in the UK and the AIDS Memorial Quil in the USA also called the Names Project.
AIDS Memorial Quilt | UK
The UK AIDS Memorial Quilt tells the stories of many of those lost in the early days of the HIV AIDS epidemic in the 80’s and 90’s. Representing approximately 384 people from all around the UK, there are 48 twelve-foot by twelve-foot panels, each comprising up to 8 smaller panels. Each panel is approximately 4m sq. Each individual panel commemorates someone who died of AIDS and has been lovingly made by their friends, lovers or family.
Lives remembered include those of the writer, Bruce Chatwin; the artist/filmmaker Derek Jarman; the actors, Ian Charleson and Denham Elliot; gay rights activist, Mark Ashton and the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.
Several charities have created the AIDS Memorial Quilt Conservation Partnership, to raise awareness of the quilt, its importance in our history and to restore and conserve the quilt for generations to come: George House Trust, Terrence Higgins Trust, The Food Chain, Sahir House, Positively UK and Positively East.UK AIDS Memorial Quilt | UK AIDS Memorial Quilt Conservation Partnership
UK AIDS Memorial Quilt | George House Trust
UK AIDS Memorial Quilt | UK AIDS Memorial Quilt
The UK AIDS Memorial Quilt: A heartbreaking monument of love | BBC | 8 Nov 2021
The Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt | USA
Weighing an estimated 54 (US) tons (48,988 kilograms), the (NAMES Project) AIDS Memorial Quilt is an enormous quilt made as a memorial to celebrate the lives of people who have died of HIV and AIDS, and related illnesses.
As of June 2016, the Quilt is composed of more than 49,000 panels on 5,956 blocks (blocks are the twelve-foot square building blocks of The Quilt seen at displays). Most blocks are composed of 8 separate panels, remembering the lives of eight individuals lost to AIDS.The history of the quilt National AIDS Memorial Quilt | National AIDS Memorial (USA)
AIDS Memorial Quilt Online | National AIDS Memorial
Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt | Wikipedia Back to top
We RAGE On
weRAGEon is a project inspired by early HIV activism of the 1990s. weRAGEon seeks to do more than just tell stories from our past. It seeks to inspire, to influence, and to create new generations of activists and advocates.
Drawing on our rich history of global HIV activism, the Re-Act section revisits case studies of recent and historic activist actions, to explore what we can learn from past actions and events. In Respond you are invited to share your stories, and your strategies for future activism. And in Rage On find out more about the stories of HIV activists (past and present) from around the world.
As weRAGEon evolves, you’ll find more case studies featured, and more stories of how activism has influenced and inspired or how we can use activism more effectively in the future.weRAGEon Back to top
Pioneering several groundbreaking HIV prevention films, AIDES is a French community-based non-profit organisation that was founded in 1984. The name is a play on “aides” (French for “help”) and the English word “AIDS”. Its aim is to bring people living with HIV/AIDS together with their loved ones and peers into an organised entity dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS and to defend the rights of people and communities affected by this disease.AIDES
AIDES | Wikipedia Willy the Tourist | AIDES | 25 Apr 2011 | 1m 26s
Smutley | AIDES | 16 Mar 2011 | 2m 20s
Graffiti | AIDES | 19 Jan 2010 | 1m 36s
Sugar Baby Love | AIDES | 8 Aug 2008 | 3m Back to top
And The Band Played On | Randy Shilts | 1987
“Upon its first publication twenty years ago, “And the band played on” was quickly recognised as a masterpiece of investigative reporting. An international bestseller, a nominee for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and made into a critically acclaimed film, Shilts’ expose revealed why AIDS was allowed to spread unchecked during the early ’80s while the most trusted institutions ignored or denied the threat. One of the few true modern classics, it changed and framed how AIDS was discussed in the following years. “And the band played on” remains one of the essential books of our time.” (Macmillan)
“And the band played on” is also a 1993 American television film docudrama based on the book. The film premiered at the Montreal World Film Festival before being broadcast by HBO on September 11, 1993.And the band played on | Closing scene | HBO Films | 1997 | 4m 27s
The End Of Innocence | Simon Garfield | 1994The End Of Innocence | Simon Garfield
“The End Of Innocence” looks at a decade of AIDS in Britain. As well as the 8000 who have died, some 20,000 are infected with HIV, and many more carry the virus unknowingly. With no cure or even a vaccine in sight, and growing evidence of complacency, AIDS is still one of the greatest post-war challenges the UK faces. This book covers every significant development of the disease, from the early ignorance and panic to the emergence of AIDS as a good cause taken up by Sir Ian McKellen, George Michael and the Princess of Wales. The author uses information supplied by doctors, scientists, government ministers and civil servants, as well as interviews with leading entertainment figures such as Stephen Fry, Elton John and the late Derek Jarman.” (Simon Garfield)
In 1995, the BBC made a documentary based on the book highlighting the shameful attitudes of the British public and politicians during the 80s and early 90s towards HIV/AIDS awareness, education and gay men.The End of Innocence, part 1/ 6 | BBC Documentary/ Fine Cut | 1995
The End of Innocence, part 2/ 6 | BBC Documentary/ Fine Cut | 1995
The End of Innocence, part 3/ 6 | BBC Documentary/ Fine Cut | 1995
The End of Innocence, part 4/ 6 | BBC Documentary/ Fine Cut | 1995
The End of Innocence, part 5/ 6 | BBC Documentary/ Fine Cut | 1995
The End of Innocence, part 6/ 6 | BBC Documentary/ Fine Cut | 1995
AIDS Don’t Die of Prejudice | Norman Fowler | 2015AIDS Don’t Die of Prejudice | Norman Fowler | Biteback Publishing
“AIDS: Don’t Die of Prejudice” is both an in-depth investigation and an impassioned call to arms against the greatest public health threat in the world today. Norman Fowler has travelled to nine cities around the globe to report on the position today. What he discovered was a shocking blend of ignorance, prejudice, bigotry and intolerance. In Africa and Eastern Europe, a rising tide of discrimination against gays and lesbians prevents many from coming forward for testing. In Russia, drug users are dying because an intolerant government refuses to introduce the policies that would save them. Extraordinarily, Washington has followed suit and excluded financial help for proven policies on drugs, and has turned its back on sex workers.
In this lucid yet powerful account, Norman Fowler reveals the steps that must be taken to prevent a global tragedy. ” (Biteback Publishing)
How To Survive A Plague | David France | 2017How to survive a plague | David France | Pan Macmillan Books
“How to Survive a Plague by David France is the riveting, powerful and profoundly moving story of the AIDS epidemic and the grass-roots movement of activists, many of them facing their own life-or-death struggles, who grabbed the reins of scientific research to help develop the drugs that turned HIV from a mostly fatal infection to a manageable disease.
Around the globe, the 15.8 million people taking anti-AIDS drugs today are alive thanks to their efforts. Not since the publication of Randy Shilts’s now classic And the Band Played On in 1987 has a book sought to measure the AIDS plague in such brutally human, intimate, and soaring terms. Weaving together the stories of dozens of individuals, this is an insider’s account of a pivotal moment in our history and one that changed the way that medical science is practised worldwide.” (Pan Macmillan)How to survive a plague | Trailer | 2013
How to survive a plague | Film review | The Guardian | 10 Nov 2013
The Ward | Gideon Mendel | 2017The Ward | Gideon Mendel | Trolley Books
In 1993, Gideon Mendel spent a number of weeks photographing the Broderip and Charles Bell wards in London’s Middlesex Hospital as part of the ‘Positive Lives’ project. The Broderip was the first AIDS ward in London and was opened by Diana, Princess of Wales in 1987, this year marking the 30th anniversary of its opening. This was the era before antiretroviral medications had become available, a very distinct and tragic time. All of the patients on the wards, many of whom were young, gay men, were having to face the terrifying prospect of an early and painful death.
These two wards at The Middlesex Hospital were some of the few dedicated AIDS wards that existed in London, and even more unusual for their decision to open themselves to being photographed. Considering the high levels of stigma and fear that existed at the time, the decision of these four patients to allow themselves, alongside their families, lovers and friends to be photographed was an act of considerable bravery. ‘The Ward’ explores through Gideon Mendel’s evocative black and white photographs how it felt to live with HIV at this time when it was considered a veritable death sentence. It shows how the ward at the Middlesex Hospital became more like a second home, and the staff and patients friends.Back to top
"Killer in the village" BBC Horizon (1983)
A rise in the demand for Pentamidine to treat pneumocystis pneumonia alerted health authorities to HIV/AIDS. First transmitted in 1983, Horizon traces the spread of AIDS across America. AIDS – Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome – was only named in 1982, and was still largely unknown. This programme follows the search for a cause and cure, and asks whether the seeds of a spreading epidemic had already reached London.Horizon: Killer in the Village, 1982-1983 | BBC | 55m 45s Back to top
"Don't die of ignorance" AIDS campaign (1986-7)
“Don’t Die of Ignorance” AIDS campaign | Witness, Radio 4 | 9m
AIDS Monolith: Don’t Die of Ignorance Campaign, 1987 | BFI | 20 May 2016 | 51s
In 1986 the British government launched the world’s first ever public health campaign on HiV and AIDS. It was highly controversial and faced considerable opposition from Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Mike Lanchin speaks to former Health Minister, Norman Fowler, whose insistence made the campaign a reality. Past campaigns: AIDS don’t die of ignorance | Ethical Marketing News | 30 Apr 2017
The AIDS health campaign | The National Archives | 26 Jan 2016
Thatcher tried to block ‘bad taste’ public health warnings about AIDS | The Guardian | 30 Dec 2015 Back to top
Hepatitis is (a virus that causes) inflammation of the liver and liver tissue and can cause serious and potentially life-threatening damage if left untreated. Hepatitis can be acute (short term) or chronic (long term) which can cause lasting liver damage. Hepatitis is sometimes shortened to hep.
The liver is the largest organ in the human body weighing around 1.5kg and sits on the right side of your body. It has several vital functions including turning food into energy and filtering toxins, eg: alcohol out of the blood.
The Hepatitis alphabet
Hepatitis is most commonly caused by the viruses A to C but other forms of hepatitis (eg: D, E, F, G) are very rare. Other causes include heavy alcohol use, some medications, toxins, other infections, and auto-immune diseases. But to summarise:
- Hepatitis A (HAV) is mainly spread by contaminated food and water, and sex, eg: rimming, fucking and sharing dildoes).
Get vaccinated for Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B (HBV) is mainly sexually transmitted, eg: rimming, fucking and sharing dildoes and douche and drug-injecting equipment
Get vaccinated for Hepatitis B. Treatment is available. See below: Hepatitis C and chemsex
- Hepatitis C (HCV) is commonly spread through blood, eg: sharing injecting equipment, straws for snorting, fucking and fisting. See below: Hepatitis C and chemsex
- Treatment is available that cures it.
- Hepatitis D (HDV) can only infect people already infected with hepatitis B
Treatment is available
- Hepatitis E (HEV) is spread in very much the same way as Hepatitis A and can be found in raw/ undercooked animals such as pigs, wild boar, deer, rabbits and rats
No specific treatment
Symptoms include a combination of the following:
- Flu-like symptoms and/ or temperature
- Nausea, and/ or vomiting
- Diarrhoea and/ or grey coloured shit/ poo
- Dark piss/ urine
- Loss of appetite
- Joint pain
- Yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
- Extreme tiredness
- Stomach pain
- Itchy skin
- Brain ‘fog’/ confusion and/ or depression (specific to Hepatitis C)
Hepatitis is complicated so please explore the information and support provided here and/ or get to a sexual health clinic ASAP.NHS
Viral Hepatitis | The Liver Trust
Hepatitis | Terrence Higgins Trust
About the hepatitis C virus | The Hepatitis C Trust
Wikipedia A-Z of sexually transmitted infections (STI) | MEN R US The A to C of hepatitis | LGBT Hero | 22 Feb | 2019
Back to top
Hepatitis B and C | Leeds Sexual Health | 2017 | 3m
Hepatitis C and chemsex
Prevention includes harm reduction, testing donated blood and the treatment of people with chronic infection. HCV and HIV co-infection raises additional issues if you are living with HIV. (See below).
Fucking, fisting, sharing douche kit, sharing lube, and sharing dildos and snorting straws can all put you at risk of catching Hepatitis C, HIV and other STIs.
Reducing the risks
- Using condoms for fucking or getting fucked
- Using sterile syringe and needles when injecting
- Using latex or non-latex gloves when fisting or getting fisted
- Using your own supply of lube and not sharing
- Using a new condom on dildos every time
- Using your own straw when snorting drugs
Disinfecting douche heads
Unlike HIV which dies when it leaves the body, Hepatitis C has a ‘tough outer shell’ and can be passed on by sharing towels, toothbrushes, dildoes, and douche equipment, for example. Keeping douche heads and kit clean is an important part of reducing risks, especially at sex parties where they may be shared.
Use a commercially available sex toy cleaner or you can make up your own solution of 1 part thin bleach to 10 parts water. Make sure you clean and rinse well before each use.Chemsex | MEN R US Sexual health services (Greater London) | MEN R US Hepatitis C | Hep C Trust
Gay Men’s Hepatitis C Support Group | Hep C Trust
Hepatitis C | British Liver Trust
Liver disease, hepatitis and HIV | nam aidsmap
Hepatitis C | NHS
Hepatitis C | LGBT Hero
Hepatitis C | Wikipedia
TreatmentHepatitis C | Hepatitis C Trust
Hepatitis C [HCV] and HIV/ HCV co-infection | nam aidsmap
Hepatitis C | LGBT Hero
Hepatitis C | NHS
Hepatitis C | British Liver Trust Sofosbuvir for treating chronic hepatitis C | NICE
Ledipasvir–sofosbuvir for treating chronic hepatitis C | NICE
Elbasvir–grazoprevir for treating chronic hepatitis C | NICE Hepatitis C treatment is not straight forward | nam aidsmap Back to top
News and articlesCondomless sex sufficient to pass on hepatitis C between men | nam aidsmap | 21 Aug 2020
Hepatitis C more stigmatising than HIV: gay men’s attitudes towards hepatitis C reinfection | 4 Jun 2019 | nam aids map
English clinic survey finds that 40% of gay men with new hepatitis C infections are HIV negative | nam aidsmap | 7 Apr 2019
New Hepatitis C cases down by almost 70 per cent in HIV positive men in London | Imperial College | 6 Mar 2019
Epidemic of sexually transmitted hepatitis C in gay men now involves both HIV-positive and HIV-negative men | nam aidsmap | 29 Mar 2019
Co-infection with HIV and HCV does not increase the risk of end-stage liver disease or liver cancer | nam aidsmap | 14 Jan 2019
Unprecedented hepatitis C infection rates seen in gay men in Amsterdam PrEP programme | nam aidsmap | 25 Jul 2018
Hepatitis C is detectable in rectal and nasal fluid | nam aidsmap | 13 Nov 2018
HIV and chronic HCV co-infection prevalence in England highest among MSM | nam aidsmap | 15 Aug 2018
Hepatitis C treatment for people with HIV | nam aidsmap | Dec 2017
New HCV infections in HIV positive gay men | i-base | 17 Aug 2017
NHS ‘abandoning’ thousands by rationing hepatitis C drugs | The Guardian | 28 Jul 2016
Sexual transmission of HCV is increasing among gay and bisexual men with HIV | nam Aidsmap | 18 Sep 2015
Acute HCV infections observed among HIV-negative gay men in London | nam Aidsmap | 10 Jun 2015
The chemsex study | London Boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham | Sigma Research | March 2014 Back to top
Sexually transmitted infections A-Z
STI sexually transmitted infections a-zWikipedia Crabs Away! | Three Flying PIglets | 2011 | 9m 2s
Chemsex | MEN R US
For cold sores around the mouth and nose see:Cold sore (herpes simplex virus) | NHS
Herpes simplex | Wikipedia
HPV (human papillomavirus)
Human papillomavirus (HPV) | NHS
HPV vaccine offered to men who have sex with men in England | BBC | 5 Feb 2018
Multi-drug resistant Shigella detected in the UK and USA, mostly in gay men | nam aidsmap | 22 Jan 2019 Back to top
Sexual heath service cuts
Sexual health service cuts
Government funding cuts leave sexual health and HIV care at ‘breaking point’
“Access to sexual health and HIV services has been dramatically reduced as a result of changes to the funding and organisation of sexual health services since 2013, according to the medical professionals providing care. Over half (54%) of respondents to a survey of members of the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) reported decreases in the overall level of service access to patients over the past year, with a further 16 per cent saying that access had significantly decreased. In a parallel survey of members of the British HIV Association (BHIVA), three quarters (76%) of respondents said that care delivered to patients in their HIV service had worsened.”Government funding cuts leave sexual health and HIV care at ‘breaking point’ | BHIVA | 29 Sep 2018
Kat Smithson, Director of Policy and Campaigns at NAT (National AIDS Trust) said: “The sexual health crisis is no longer a disaster waiting to happen, it is unfolding before our eyes. At a time when we have increasing rates in many STIs, we are destroying opportunities to diagnose and treat them. Clinicians are telling us that the very services that achieved success by reducing rates of HIV, are now under threat, putting this success at risk.
“In 2016 the Health Select Committee warned that public health budget cuts were a false economy, but was ignored. Now, as the same Committee conducts an inquiry on sexual health, we see the results: increasing sexual health inequalities, particularly affecting gay and bisexual men and BAME communities, and diminishing quality of services.
“As it stands, new funding for the NHS won’t benefit these health services that are actually delivered by local authorities through the public health grant. These continue to be cut right under our noses. Public health, which includes sexual health, drug and alcohol services, is in dire need of reinvestment.”NAT respond to BHIVA and BASHH survey on sexual health | NAT | Sep 2018
London Sexual Health Transformation Programme
Something which may have passed you by in 2017 is the roll-out of the London Sexual Health Transformation Programme “…a partnership of 29 London boroughs with the aim of drawing together a new collaborative commissioning model for sexual health services” say London Councils. “From April 2017, when the Programme is due to be implemented, patients will be able to access services through the internet rather than having to attend a clinic.”
As the Programme is being rolled out, 6 sexual health services have closed, to date:
- The Lloyd Clinic
- Clare Simpson Sexual Health Clinic
- Marlborough Clinic
- The Courtyard Clinic
- Artesian Health Centre Sexual Health Clinic
- Vauxhall Riverside Sexual Health Clinic
MEN R US has asked about other clinics which we believe may be at risk, but we are (still) waiting for responses to our enquiries. However, we suspect more closures are on the way.
Online system not online until 2018
Worryingly, we understand that the web portal system where we (the patients) will access services is not online as planned. It appears we will have wait until 2018 at a time when there are already reports of sexual health services becoming further stretched, and turning away patients.
Communication regarding the closures seems to have been poor, the public often confused about what is open and closed. Ultimately, one gets the impression this Programme is more about the ‘transformation’ of sexual health services by stealth.
Dean Street Express massively over-subscribed
According to Gay Star News (27/10/17) “Around 1,500 people are trying to get just 300 appointments at the most popular sexual health clinic for gay and bi men in the UK, after other clinics closed.” Dean Street Express replied “our service is currently massively over-subscribed due to the closure of several other clinics in London.”
Industry award for the London Sexual Health Transformation Programme
There is some good news, however: Earlier this year the London Sexual Health Transformation Programme won an industry award from the Municipal Journal for ‘Reinventing Public Services.’ So no likelihood of an omnishambles then!
Cuts in England
The British Medical Journal (BMJ) sent freedom of information (FoI) requests about sexual health service provision and spending over the past three years to all 152 commissioning local authorities, 147 of which (97%) responded. Only 33 said that they had not reduced spending in any given year, whether by making efficiencies, through direct cuts to services, or because of natural variations in demand; 50 had done so in one year, 37 in two, and 27 in all three years.
Most of these annual reductions in spend were between 5% and 10%, but they ranged from 0.4% to 23%, the FoI responses show. And it’s likely that councils have now explored all viable options to contain costs.
The government public health grant, out of which sexual services are funded, has been steadily cut since 2015. It had an unscheduled 6% cut (£200m) in 2015-16. Scheduled annual cuts will amount to 9.6% by 2020-21.Sexual health services on the brink | BMJ | Caroline White | 30 Nov 2017
Sign the petition
Sign the petition here created by the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV to The Secretary of State for Health to reverse the damaging cuts to the public health budget in England and provide sufficient funding to ensure that patients can continue to access high-quality sexual health services throughout the country.Back to top
Sexual health service survey
There have been worrying stories about sexual health clinic closures and difficulties getting appointments. This is a cause for concern since quick and easy access to testing and treatment is vital if we are to control STIs and HIV. The National AIDS Trust (NAT) and the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) have put together a survey to establish the extent of the problem.
Please take the survey and share as widely as possible.Back to top
We encourage you to read these articles from the Guardian which explain the state of affairs rather well:What to do if you’re a Londoner worried about gonorrhoea? Test yourself, apparently | The Guardian | 17 Oct 2017
Sexual health shake-up in south-west London unsafe, experts say | The Guardian | 16 Aug 2017
“This new analysis from the King’s Fund paints an extremely worrying picture for sexual health services across the country. With the dust having barely settled from the news that the first cases of gonorrhoea resistant to all known antibiotics have now been identified in three countries, the prospect of sexual health services facing further significant cuts to funding could not come at a more dangerous time.
With an unprecedented demand for services, coupled with record levels of new STI diagnoses and treatment-resistant infection, we are truly facing the prospect of a ‘perfect storm’ in sexual health. It is essential that the new Government ensures sexual health services are appropriately funded so that vital sexual health promotion, prevention, testing and treatment can be delivered. Failing to do so is the falsest of false economies and the consequences will be felt for years to come.”
Dr Elizabeth Carlin, BASHH President, commenting on the King’s Fund findings showing that local councils are planning on making large cuts to funding for sexual health services | Jul 2017What do cuts in sexual health services mean for patients? | The Kings Fund | 3 Apr 2017
Read on …
It’s time for government to get to grips with the nation’s sexual health | Huff Post | 5 Feb 2019
Sexual health service cuts will increase spread of STIs | The Guardian | 30 Dec 2018
Record demand for sexual health services amid spending cuts | BBC | 1 Sep 2018
What to do if you’re a Londoner worried about gonorrhoea? Test yourself, apparently | The Guardian | 17 Oct 2017
Sexual health shake-up in south-west London unsafe, experts say | The Guardian | 16 Aug 2017
Government cuts ‘leave sexual health services at tipping point’ | The Guardian | 3 Aug 2017
Sexual health clinics ‘at tipping point’ after Government cuts and huge rise in demand, councils warn | The Independent | 2 Aug | 2017
Further cuts to services increase risk of ‘perfect storm’ for sexual health | British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) | 12 Jul 2017
Government cuts are brewing a sexual health crisis | The Guardian | 27 Jun 2016
What do cuts in sexual health services mean for patients? | The Kings Fund | 3 Apr 2017
Cuts to sexual health services are putting patients at risk, says King’s Fund | British Medical Journal | 14 Mar 2017
Cuts to sexual health services will lead to STI ‘explosion’, warn experts | The Guardian | 3 Jan 2016 Back to top