The Government is Failing on HIV

Posted: December 1, 2011 in gay rights, health, human rights
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Seems I wasn’t the only one who noticed David Cameron’s curious reticence about mentioning gay men and HIV together. Peter Tatchell takes the Tories to task:

What safer sex information is taught in schools is wholly oriented to heterosexual pupils. Gay and bisexual students get no specific advice on how to have gay sex safely.

Many faith schools and independent schools are getting away with neglecting their pupil’s HIV education. They put their own dogmas and embarrassment about sexual matters before the health and welfare of young people.

Frank, detailed and effective HIV awareness and prevention education should be mandatory in all schools from primary level onwards, before pupils become sexually active and adopt unsafe sexual habits.

The needs of gay and bisexual men continue to be under-resourced. HIV prevention campaigns targeted at men who have sex with men are not working, as evidenced by the high number of new HIV infections.

Having won so many gains in terms of legal rights and social acceptance, we need to ensure that we remain healthy to enjoy the benefits of equality. We may have to rethink some HIV prevention advertising campaigns to make them more hard-hitting and impactive. The level of new infections in our community needs to be cut very significantly.

Access to effective HIV prevention information and to high quality HIV health-care are human rights. They should be available to all.

Peter makes an invaluable point. The message that’s getting out there isn’t connecting with the people it needs to connect with – a point made very clear by UK Positive Lad. It suggests as far as gay men’s needs go, something is getting in the way, be it governmental indifference, complacency from within the gay community or (as Peter suggests) entirely misguided HIV prevention campaigns. A shift of attitudes needs to take place, but also a shift of ideas, not least of which needs to be acknowledging that gay people have become invisible at the heart of the pandemic, even though we comprise the majority of people actually getting infected. The other issues Peter refers to then need to lead the way from there, both in schools and in clinics, which really need to sit up and pay attention.

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