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Birmingham LGBT gears up for National HIV Testing Week

NOVEMBER 18th -25th is the annual National HIV Testing Week (NHTW) a week before 1st December, World AIDS Day and both are an opportunity for reflection on how far we have come in the struggle against HIV/AIDS.

We are lucky to live in a time where things have moved on very much in terms of treatment and HIV clinical care but some things remain urgent.

☞ Fear of stigma and hence fear of testing
☞ Myths about HIV/AIDS
☞ Lack of knowledge about current progress in the area of HIV treatment
☞ Late diagnosis which affects how well people respond to HIV treatment once diagnosed

According to the National AIDS Trust(NAT), the proportion of late diagnoses in 2015 was particularly high among Black African (53%), followed by Black other (49%), Asian (47%) and Black Caribbean (46%) ethnicities.

Statistically LGBTQIA people from BME communities are even less likely to engage with sexual health services due to barriers such as homophobia, stigma, fear of being judged, social exclusion and social deprivation and yet they tend to be disproportionately affected by. In many BME communities, men who have sex with men may not use the terms ‘gay’ or ‘bisexual’ to describe themselves. Good practice is to use the term ‘Men who have Sex with Men’ (MSM) rather than gay or bisexual men.

At Birmingham LGBT, we are aware of these barriers and have sensitively developed specialist services to help reach out to the African and Caribbean community. Our BME Health Promotion workers being from the community themselves fully understands the hurdles & barriers that BME LGBT people face in accessing sexual health services and their main role is to encourage greater engagement and ultimately reduces late diagnosis of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) amongst LGBT members of the-Caribbean & African communities.

For the following services:

• A specialist BME Sexual Health Worker
• Free rapid HIV tests & general STI screening
• Confidential 1 to 1 support sessions with a knowledgeable and non-judgmental specialist sexual health worker
• Referral pathways to relevant organisations / health care services in case of a diagnosis
• Free condoms and lube
• Free discreet condoms by post services
• Outreach and STI screening at local community events and venues (on invitation)
• A confidential monthly meet-up safe space - (DUDEZ) - a safe and non-judgemental space to share experiences with other African and Caribbean and Gay, Bisexual or Questioning Men and to discuss all matters pertaining to sexual health and harm reduction.

Contact us via telephone on 0121 643 0821 or email: sexualhealth@blgbt.org (we aim to respond to e-mails within 48 hours).

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