Letter: Saving lives on the gay scene

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The Independent Online
Sir: John Lyttle writes: "Rubberstuffers still haunt Hampstead Heath handing out condoms" (article, 30 May); in fact Rubberstuffers have never given out a single condom on the Heath. What Rubberstuffers provides is appropriate condoms in places where gay men are most likely to access them, namely gay venues.

He suggests that handing out condoms is "a waste of money" - not so. The cost of condom distribution to gay men (who make up the majority of new HIV infections) is far overshadowed by condom distribution to people whose risk of HIV is minimal through, say, family planning services or GP clinics.

An NHS-commissioned report (in March 1997) concludes: "Provision of condoms . . . should target high-risk groups, especially male homosexuals, purely on cost grounds".

That's why we will carry on "haunting" the gay scene, ensuring that gay men receive practical advice and information on preventing HIV transmission.

CHRIS MARKHAM

Director, RS Health

London W1

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