Aids adverts target gays for first time

Every eight hours in England a gay or bisexual man is infected with HIV, it was claimed yesterday at the launch of a new initiative, which has been dubbed by critics as the "re-gaying" of the Aids campaign.

HIV-positive men are the stars of the "Reality Campaign," which uses gay lifestyle images to promote safe sex as a way of life.

It is the first mass-media campaign for gay and bisexual men launched by the Terrence Higgins Trust, which has prev-iously used the gay press. The aim is to reach men who are not part of the gay scene.

But the campaign has provided some right wing commentators with opportunities for a bout of "we told you so". They say it is a vindication of their view that pounds 1.5bn of tax payers' money has been wasted on Aids education aimed at heterosexuals who were never at risk, and the figures do appear to support them.

A total of 16,303 gay and bisexual men have tested positive in the UK since 1982, and 6,611 have died from Aids. Of the 5,000 or so cases of HIV infection and 1,700 Aids cases in which the virus was transmitted through heterosexual intercourse, most followed sex with high-risk partners, or exposure to HIV abroad.

The vast majority of new HIV transmissions continue to occur among gay or bisexual men - up to 1,000 new infections a year - and an increase in other sexually-transmitted diseases suggests that unprotected sex between men is on the increase.

Critics, such as Andrew Neil, former editor of the Sunday Times, and Neville Hodgkinson, the former science correspondent of that paper, which ran a long and damaging campaign stating that HIV did not cause Aids (later picked up by the Daily Mail), say that this is, and always was, the reality of Aids in Britain.

They have accused the Government of falling prey to a gay conspiracy to push the myth of a heterosexual epidemic in order to boost funds for treatment of gay men, and some gay activists have confirmed this view. James Taylor, of the charity Gay Men Fighting Aids, said last week that the heterosexual fear factor had been introduced to persuade the Government to fund research.

"The money that we needed to combat the epidemic in the gay community would only have been forthcoming if the disease appeared likely to affect Middle England," he said.

However, public health experts are adamant that the Government's prompt action in the mid-1980s with hard-hitting campaigns, such as the infamous "icebergs and tombstones," aimed at heterosexuals, gay and bisexual men, and drug users, have resulted in Britain having the lowest Aids/HIV figures in Western Europe. Other factors, such as the British propensity for mono- gamy, may have played a part.

No one has calculated how many people, of whatever sexual persuasion, would have died if no action had been taken - the best riposte to Neil et al. But in the US, which has four times the population of the UK, the moral majority delayed the start of Aids prevention strategies. A total of 318,000 people have died there, compared with about 9,000 in the UK.

Nick Partridge, chief executive of THT, said last night that it would continue to target young people, drug users and other high risk groups, as it had since 1982. "It is ridiculous to say this is a 're-gaying' of Aids," he said. "We have an epidemic among gay men, and the potential for an epidemic in heterosexuals. It is not either a 'gay plague', or a disease that will affect everyone. There has to be a broad approach."

Suggested Topics
News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
Sport
Premier League Live Saturday 23 August
sportAll the action from today's Premier League matches
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

JavaScript Developer (C++ / C# / HTML, Java Angular.js) London

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A world leading business intellig...

Application Support Analyst-(UNIX, Linux, Financial Services)

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Application Support Analyst-(UNIX...

Application Support Analyst - SQL, UNIX, Linux

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Application Support Analyst - SQL...

Application Support - FIX protocol, UNIX, SQL, Windows, OMS

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Application Support - FIX protoco...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition