May 2, 2012
Nearly a third of gay and bisexual male NHS users surveyed last year by the LGBT rights charity Stonewall said they had never been tested for HIV. Of those not tested, 70 percent said it was because they did not consider themselves at risk, and a third cited their not having symptoms of HIV infection. The survey also found that 54 percent of those polled had never discussed HIV with a health professional.
Nearly a third of the 6,900 gay and bisexual men surveyed reported a negative NHS-related experience due to their sexuality. The same proportion had not disclosed their sexuality to a general practitioner or other NHS staff, citing doubts about confidentiality and lack of opportunities for the discussion. Some health professionals had assumed that, since their patient was gay, he must be HIV-positive, several respondents reported.
The surveyed men were more likely to smoke, drink, and use illegal drugs. Among respondents ages 16-24, 6 percent had tried taking their life in the last year. Fifteen percent had intentionally harmed themselves, compared with 3 percent for men generally.
The report calls for better training of health professionals, and it says anti-discrimination polices should be posted prominently in health care settings.
For information, visit: www.stonewall.org.uk/what_we_do/research_and_policy/health_and_healthcare/4922.asp.