Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Stigma ‘prevents men from seeking HIV test’

Many men are still hesistant to be tested for Aids, according to the Rainbow Project support group.

David McCartney from Rainbow said the stigma attached to HIV and Aids was preventing a lot of men from getting tested.

He said: “Rainbow recently launched a rapid testing campaign which gives same-day results in a bid to encourage men to get tested for HIV as part of their sexual health MOT, but despite this we know that a lot of men in this city are steering clear from this test.”

And he added: “There is still a huge stigma attached to HIV and this is proving a major barrier because men fear walking into a hospital or medical centre and asking to be tested for HIV which is one of the reasons we piloted the rapid testing programme because it allows someone to be tested in a safe and familiar environment.”

The group will take part in a balloon release at the Guildhall in Londonderry today, along with mayor Colum Eastwood, to highlight World Aids Day.

Mr McCartney said: “While attitudes have mellowed in Derry there are still attacks being carried out on people because of their sexuality and it is this fear of attack that also keeps men from getting tested,”

Mr Eastwood said: “I was keen that the city played its part in supporting and marking this event which has become one of the most recognised international health days, providing a key opportunity to raise awareness, commemorate those who have passed on, and celebrate victories such as increased access to treatment and prevention services.”

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