It's World Aids Day today, which is a time of education about the disease and a time of reflection of those we have lost from it. Unfortunately, HIV/Aids has become an integral part of the LGBTQ+ community, as gay/bi men and transgender women are more susceptible to catching it.
However, the conversation surrounding HIV/Aids has changed significantly since its first detection in the 1980s. While there is still a slight stigma for those living with HIV/Aids in the LGBTQ+ community, many charities and sexual health advocates have helped to change the trajectory. Thanks to their hard work, we now have more efficient testing facilities, access to preventative medication, and resources.
The NHS in the UK provides testing and treatment for HIV/Aids, which you can learn more about here. But, if you would like to learn more about other HIV/Aids services and groups, we’ve listed a few of our favourites below:
The Terrence Higgins Trust
The Terrence Higgins Trust is a charity that works to advocate and bring awareness to HIV and sexual health. The charity was established in 1982 in honour of Terry Higgins, a gay man who was the first in the UK to die of Aids. The charity offers both education and sexual health resources specifically for the LGBT community and HIV and sexual health centres around the UK.
Free Testing HIV
Free Testing HIV is a service provided by the NHS that allows users to order at-home HIV test kits. The process is straightforward and confidential and is completely free to order. It's an excellent service for anyone who may not feel comfortable visiting a HIV testing facility in person or cannot because of COVID. However, they currently only operate within certain parts of the UK.
Positively UK is a charity that hosts support groups and peer-lead mentorships for people living with HIV. Their focus is to provide a safe space for people going through the emotional battles related to living with HIV/Aids. As an HIV/Aids charity, they provide counselling and support for everyone living with HIV, including the LGBT community around the country. They even have dedicated socials, emotional support groups, one-on-one mentoring and wellness workshops for gay men with HIV.
The recent homophobic attacks in Clapham have shocked and saddened many people. These attacks are a reminder that LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance in society can be regressive, and not always progressive. In the UK, we have made great progress in recent years, but there is still a lot of work to be done.