Men Only Tayside sexual health advice and information service launched by NHS Tayside

A new advice and information service for gay and bisexual men has been launched by NHS Tayside.

Gay and bisexual men are still the highest risk group for acquiring HIV and other serious STIs. The group makes up the largest number and proportion of people diagnosed with HIV and also living in Scotland.

The new Men Only Tayside service and website aims to offer advice and information for gay and bisexual men.

NHS Tayside and the Terrence Higgins Trust has carried out recent research which has revealed that there is a continuing low level of awareness amongst gay and bisexual men in Tayside about HIV and the risks of unsafe sex.  This low level of awareness contributes to their vulnerability to acquiring the infection.

NHS Tayside’s executive lead for Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Ann Eriksen said: “Many men told us that they still experience homophobia and discrimination in their everyday lives and we know from research that this can be one of the things that stop men accessing testing and therefore treatment.

“We are committed to making sure that our services are caring, inclusive and designed to meet the needs of everyone in our community, which is why we have worked alongside local men in the planning of the Men Only Tayside service.

“To complement what we are doing to improve HIV prevention and services for gay and bisexual men, NHS Tayside is launching a year-long poster campaign which will highlight how men can take action themselves to protect their health.

“The series of bus adverts starts with a simple message about inclusion, we’re all the same, we’re all different. We hope that along with the other services and support that are being put in place it will help raise awareness and reduce the number of undiagnosed infections in our local population.”

Clive King, a health promotion specialist at Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, said: “We were delighted to assist NHS Tayside in this important piece of work. Our research highlighted several areas of concern among local gay men, and the health board has been swift to act on our recommendations.

“The Men Only Tayside website is a tremendous resource and we are looking forward to promoting the MOT service throughout Tayside in the coming months.”

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We Were Here – a community under seige; HIV & AIDS in 1980-90s San Francisco

David Weissman’s We Were Here is a new documentary about the emergence and spread of AIDS in San Francisco.

More than 15,000 people died from the virus by the mid 1990s. What the director captures is not just the pain of the group, but a real destruction of communities. Eventually many in the US and around the globe developed a deep sense of compassion for gays and went back to rethink the “moral question” of that time.

We Were Here has been described as a probing look into the emergence and rapid spread of HIV and AIDS and is a horrifying yet sensitive exploration of a community facing a dreadful experience and a true crisis.

Weissman goes through an entire community and explores many viewpoints that tell the truth, and well as providing a narrative that’s understandable from any audience’s point of view.

Whether or not you are familar with events of the 1980s and 1990s, you will still feel a strong connection with characters in the documentary. We Were Here has some very weighty moments, and the format can grow tiresome. It is made up of interviews with news broadcasts in between.

But it is saved by the fact that it does not fear going close to contradictions. Paul Boneberg, one of the film’s more political five, describes the gay community as such: “If you took a group of young men and told them that they could have sex as much as you want, how much do you think they’d have? They’d have a lot of sex.”  Earlier on in the film one of the profiled people asks that people remember that ”[homosexuals] are not some network of people who just like to have sex.”

The five characters here don’t need to prove anything or make any grand arguments, so their willingness to share moments of great personal strength don’t come off as preachy. As Ed Wolf, a counselor who attested to being “terrified” by anonymous sex but somehow managed to comfort those who could not survive the disease’s grasp, says, “It’s not heroic, you just do it.”

The documentary was released in September and is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.