Respect and Protect: HIV Comeback Tour marks World Aids Day

THE HIV Comeback Tour is taking to the streets this month in the run up to World Aids Day (1st December).

The award-winning health campaign is launching a new phase in its pioneering work in promoting condom use, encouraging regular HIV testing and challenging assumptions made by gay and bisexual men about sexual risk-taking.

Massive mobile billboards will be touring the streets of Lothian over the next month as the campaign is using so-called bus "supersides" for the first time.

Twenty buses will carry the huge HIV prevention messages as from tomorrow (17th November, 2008).

A further 200 posters will be displayed inside buses marking World Aids Day and offering information on where advice about sexual health can be obtained.

Jim Sherval, a public health specialist from NHS Lothian and chair of the HIV Comeback tour, said:

"The HIV Comeback Tour is now a well-established and effective Lothian campaign highlighting the re-emergence of HIV as a continuing sexual health risk for men who have sex with men. World Aids Day is a day to combat prejudice and remind people to protect themselves, and it seemed absolutely right that we should bring both campaigns together."

The HIV Comeback Tour is a partnership between NHS Lothian and a number of leading voluntary organisations

Steve O'Donnell, from Gay Men's Health said

 "The key messages of the HIV Comeback Tour are that people should get tested for HIV and use condoms when having sex. We know from research that up to 40% of gay men in Scotland with HIV don't know they have the virus. In many cases HIV transmission occurs within relationships, so we are reminding gay men that it is dangerous simply to assume that neither they nor their partner has HIV or that unprotected sex will be safe."

This phase of the campaign, in its second year, will also feature specially designed posters and postcards distributed to Edinburgh's gay venues; GP surgeries, pharmacies and libraries throughout Lothian, internet outreach; publicity in local and gay media and a series of "tour dates" where the "merchandise stall" will be available at events organised in various venues in and around Edinburgh.

The Campaign is funded by NHS Lothian and is developed and co-ordinated in partnership with Gay Men's Health, Edinburgh; LGBT Youth Scotland, ROAM Outreach, Healthy Gay Scotland and Waverley Care.