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International News

Scotland: Charity Targets HIV Prejudice

March 12, 2002

Campaigners are predicting a massive increase in the number of gay men diagnosed with HIV in Edinburgh, Scotland, if more agree to be tested for the virus. It is estimated that half of the gay men who have contracted the virus are unaware that they are HIV-positive. Now community workers have launched a campaign to dispel the prejudice that is stopping many people from coming forward to be tested. Gay Men's Health will work with men who have been diagnosed with HIV and others in the community to get out the message in the Testing Barriers campaign.

"The aim is to promote testing among gay men to hopefully create an atmosphere where people feel confident about going forward for a test," said Manager Bruce Fraser. Scottish Voluntary HIV and AIDS Forum coordinator Roy Kilpatrick said the levels of infection amongst gay men had fallen slightly in recent years. By combining the Scottish Center for Infection and Environmental Health figures (compiled from anonymous blood tests) and the results from voluntary testing, Kilpatrick estimated that 1 in 25 gay men were HIV-positive in Edinburgh. A study carried out last year found that people feared an HIV diagnosis, largely based on the prejudice that people had seen experienced by other HIV-positive men in the gay community.

While heterosexuals diagnosed with HIV were often able to keep it a secret, gossip about a positive test spread quickly within the city's small gay community. Those affected have found themselves being pointed out in bars and can face difficulty interacting. "There are lots of people experiencing it and we want to start talking about it and get it out in the open," Fraser said. Kilpatrick also voiced support for the campaign and stressed that diagnosis was crucial to improving the health of the person taking the test.

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Adapted from:
BBC News

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More News on HIV/AIDS in the United Kingdom