Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Not So Gay Health

We are only beginning to take the health needs of gay men seriously, in resent years, and our health service has just begun to resource it. In London we have been extremely fortunate, since 2001 we have had London Gay Men’s HIV Prevention Programme, a health programme that works across all London boroughs to target Gay Men’s HIV needs, it has used different routes to get its message across. These have included leafleting gay venues, media adverts, publications, health workshops and specific campaigns. Well, now all this good work is in danger.

There is a proposal that will completely change how health promotion is delivered to gay men, a proposal that will STOP all the good work that is now being done and replace it with a strategy that is almost guaranteed to fail before it has begun.

It is proposed that the ONLY health intervention for gay men in London will be health interviews. It is intended that every gay will have a one-to-one interview, were their health and sexual activity will be record, they will then be “advised” on safer-sex issue. These interviews will not conducted by healthcare professional but by volunteers, recruited from men who have previously been interviewed.

There will be not leaflets, media adverts, campaigns or publications, only these interviews.

The intention is that 100% of gay men in London will interviewed, anyone who has taken part in any research study will tell that getting 50% response is a near miracle – a 100% is impossible. They carried out a pilot study for this proposal in Greenwich, it cost £50,000 and only 8 men came forward and took part.

The information from the interview will be recorded and can be used by other agencies, surely that is enough to put off a lot of men from coming forward. Even here in London, there are a lot of gay men who are not open or able to be open about their sexuality. The present approach, of different methods of delivery of the information, can reach these men because they don’t have to come out to access it. This safety net will be gone if this proposal goes forward.

This proposal will set back Gay Men’s Health to the last century, all the good work that has been done since 2001 will be lost.

You can read the full proposal at: http://www.kc-pct.nhs.uk/pdfs/userUploaded/LondonGayMensHIVpreventionprogram.doc

Please, please email your MP and ask them to raise questions about this crazy proposal in Parliament, we need to stop this before it destroys gay men’s access to good Health Promotion. If you don’t know who your MP is you can find out at: http://www.upmystreet.com/commons/l/

If you want a draft letter to send to your MP just let me know, I can let you have a copy of one a friend at GMFA has already drawn up.

Please help out with this very important issue.


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