NHS Lothian raises awareness of the continuing dangers of HIV

The HIV Comeback Tour was launched in September 2006. The three year programme involves NHS Lothian, Gay Men'sHealth, Healthy Gay Scotland, LGBT Youth, the Harm Reduction Team, NHS Lothian's GUM services, Waverley Care and Positive Voice.

 

The three-year campaign aims to raise awareness of HIV among MSM, encourage regular testing and encourage use of condoms.

Forty percent of gay or bisexual men in Lothian with HIV don't know they have the virus.

Clinical data has shown that the number of people attending the specialist GUM clinic provided by NHS Lothian for gay and bisexual men rose between 2005-2006 and 2006-2007. The number of new patients almost trebled from 132 to 388 while return visits rose from 253 to 729.

Mike Massaro-Mallinson, Strategic Lead for Sexual Health, NHS Lothian, said:

"The key messages of the HIV Comeback Tour are that people should get tested for HIV and use condoms when having sex. We are pleased that we have seen an uptake in service use, as shown by the figures for attendance at the specialist GUM clinic for gay and bisexual men. We developed this clinic in 2006 and have promoted it through the HIV Comeback Tour and a range of other resources. We have also seen an increase in the number of people coming forward for testing."

The HIV Comeback Tour was promoted using 200 posters on Lothian buses, with a further 8,000 distributed through community venues, libraries and community centres alongside gay venues including pubs and clubs.

The second phase, launched in November 2007, challenges the assumptions people can make when meeting new partners or while in relationships. The first phase was launched the previous year and has been evaluated as an effective way of raising awareness.

The total number of HIV tests conducted in Lothian rose by 23% between 2006 and 2007. This is a total number and will include people who were concerned about being infected, for example through heterosexual sex or drug use, as well as gay and bisexual men.

The total number of tests in 2007 was 29,407, compared to 23,911 in 2006, an increase of 5,496.

The posters have been shortlisted for a prestigious PR award, run by Communicators in Business Scotland (CiB Scotland) for the best use of photography in a PR campaign.

NHS Lothian also funded a light show in December highlighting World Aids Day, projecting the iconic red ribbon onto Edinburgh's City Chambers to an audience of thousands.

The HIV Comeback Tour website is at www.hivcomebacktour.co.uk.

17/01/2008