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LGBT news in a nutshell: 17-23 December 2012

So the world didn’t end this week, but if you were too busy preparing for the apocalypse you might have missed all the latest LGBT news from around the world. Never fear, you can catch up here…

Monday 17 December 2012- Uganda ‘Kill the Gays’ bill stalled before Christmas

The Ugandan Parliament has failed to pass a bill that would sentence LGBT people to death, before closing for their end-of-year recess. After weeks of posturing, the bill was officially moved to the bottom of the Parliament’s schedule at the end of last week, before adjourning until February 2013. LGBT and human rights organisations in Uganda celebrated the moment, while committing themselves to continue the fight should the bill return next year. ‘This is a victory for Ugandans who have risked everything to demand fairness, justice and the ability to live openly and love who they choose,’ says Andre Banks, Executive Director and Co-Founder of All Out. Ugandans have been fighting back against the so-called ‘Kill the Gays’ bill since 2009 when David Bahati first introduced the bill. The bill was shelved after Ugandans and the international community decried the legislation, until Rebecca Kadaga resurfaced the bill when she became speaker in 2011.

April Ashley, one of the first Britons to undergo gender-reassignment surgery, receives MBE

April Ashley, one of the first Britons to undergo gender-reassignment surgery, was awarded an MBE last week by Queen Elizabeth II. Back in 1961, Ashley hit the news when a confidante sold her story to the Sunday People, causing an instant tabloid flurry of interest. Having had the surgery in 1960, Ashley went on to work as a model and actress, whilst constantly fighting for the rights of the trans community. Ashley, 77, was escorted by actor Simon Callow to Buckingham Palace for the ceremony, which took place on Thursday 13 December 2012. Others honored as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honors list were actor Kenneth Branagh, and Take That’s Gary Barlow.

Cameroonian man denied freedom after anti-gay conviction upheld

The Court of Appeal in Yaoundé, Cameroon has upheld the conviction of Roger Jean-Claude Mbédé, who had been convicted under the law in Cameroon that makes ‘homosexual behavior’ illegal. Mbédé was jailed after sending a text message to another man saying he loved him. So far he had served over one year of his three-year sentence, and was out on bail while he appealed his conviction. Now, he will have to return to jail to serve the rest of his sentence. Michel Togué, one of Roger’s attorneys who will appeal this ruling to the Supreme Court, said, ‘This isn’t just a tragedy for Roger, this is an embarrassment for Cameroon’s justice system. The law criminalising ‘homosexual behaviour’ was used here merely to persecute an innocent man. It’s time to end this law and prevent more injustice.’

Thursday 20 December 2012- Trinidad PM promises to end all LGBT discrimination

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The 2012 So So Gay Awards: The Results

You’ve been voting in your thousands over the last few weeks -finally, we can reveal the results of the 2012 So So Gay Awards. Grab those leftover turkey sandwiches and read on to find out who you crowned your winners of the year…

Best TV Show

Winner – Downton Abbey

Runner up – Strictly Come Dancing

We’ve been spoilt for choice this year with quality TV programmes across all the different stations, and we still can’t get enough of the delicious reality format, but Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes has clinched a win as people continue to go gaga for his period drama romp. Gay butlers, Maggie Smith’s cutting one liners and more sudden deaths than a town in Midsomer, has cemented the fictional inhabitants of Highclere Castle as your number one TV treat of the year. Tally ho!

Best Film

Winner – Avengers Assemble

Runner up – The Perks of Being A Wallflower

Chris Evans in spandex? Of course the latest Marvel adaptation was going to score highly in this competition. The Avengers Assemble, which brought together all of our favourite comic strip superheroes to save the world once again, had geeks and non-geeks heading to the cinema in their droves. What with new Spiderman and Batman films this year as well, it seems 2012 was the year of the hero. Bring on the Avengers sequel in 2015.

Best Independent Film

Winner – Keep The Lights On

Runner up – Beasts Of The Southern Wild

Blondes do have more fun in your Best Independent Film, Keep The Lights On, which takes an honest look at the nature of gay relationships in our times. The movie about sex, friendship, intimacy and most of all, love, had the public and critics alike giving rave reviews for actors Thure Lindhardt and Zachary Booth. You loved them too, which is why you made it your winner.

Best Music Artist

Winner – Lana Del Rey

Runner up – Kylie Minogue

With only two votes between the queen of the glittery hotpants and the sultry American singer-songwriter, Lana Del Rey just about managed to grab the title of Best Music Artist of 2012. Her second album, Born To Die, released in January sold over 2.8 million copies worldwide, making it one of the most successful of the year. After landing an H&M modelling and advertising campaign, it seems the world may be heading for a complete Del Rey takeover. ‘The road is long, we carry on…’  What’s in store for her in 2013? Whatever it may be, it’ll certainly be stylish.

Best Album 

Winner – Josephine: Portrait

Runner up – Soso: T.T.I.D.S.D.I.E.U.I.C. (That Time I Dug So Deep I Ended Up In China)

We’ve loved the Mancunian singer-songwriter Josephine ever since her intriguing lead single ‘What A Day’ was released back in August, so it seems only fitting that you lot enjoy the sweet music she brings to your ears too. Touring with The Noisettes, and starting the new year off by supporting Paloma Faith makes us predict that Portrait will soon be snuggled onto the CD collection shelf of almost every home in the UK. We can’t wait to hear what’s next…

Best New Theatre Production

Winner – The Custard Boys

Runner up – Seussical

Your gong for the Best New Theatre Production was a closely fought race, but Seussical just missed out on the top spot to the world premier of The Custard Boys, seen at The Tabard Theatre earlier this year.  The story of five London schoolboys being evacuated to a Norfolk seaside village, far away from Hitler’s bombs, had audiences up on their feet during curtain calls, and was praised for its beautiful portrayal of homosexuality in an era where attitudes were stifling. More of this type of theatre in 2013 please Theatre Gods!

Best Book

Winner – But She’s My Student by Kiki Archer

Runner up – Astonishing X-Men #50 (The Gay Wedding Issue) by Marjorie Liu

The story of a lesbian teacher falling for a student in her A Level History class comes top of our Best Book poll. Kiki Archer’s tale of confused sexuality in a gripping, yet funny manner, pulls the reader back into a world of teenage nostalgia and school day memories. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and then wonder why you’ve never read anything by Archer before. But She’s My Student should be staple bedtime reading for those inevitable early nights that bleak, penniless January will bring.

Best Dressed Male

Winner – David Beckham

Runner up – The One Direction Boys

Well, we didn’t expect anything else. King Beckham can do no wrong when it comes to fashion, and we’re sure his various states of undress for his H&M underwear campaign probably helped garner a few extra votes. Sharp cut suits, slick hairstyles, and thighs that deserve their own knighthood means that we’ll always look for wardrobe inspiration from the fittest footballer on the planet. Any chance of adding some jockstraps to your 2013 collection?

Best Dressed Female

Winner – Kate Middleton

Runner up – Lana Del Rey

Unfortunately for Posh Spice, she fared slightly worse that her husband in our poll, only coming 3rd in the Best Dressed Female category behind Lana Del Rey, and your winner Kate Middleton. The hats, the bouncy, voluptuous hair and the only Royal that can pull of the colour red without looking like she’s on her way home from a night out at Faces in Essex crowns K-Middy as your most stylish woman of the year. After all, she turned down clothing from Kim Kardashian’s new range. We couldn’t love you any more than we already do Kate.

Best Pride Event

Winner – Brighton

Runner up – London

Summer may be a distant dream right now, but we can all remember those few hot months we shared back in August, and it seems your Pride event of choice is sunny Brighton. This year the theme was United Colours of Pride, and thousands of you headed down to the seaside town to get your party on alongside cabaret acts, dance tents and the ingeniously titled Bear Tent. Get 3 and 4 of August 2013 into your diary now, you won’t regret it.

Sports Hero of The Year

Winner – Jessica Ennis

Runner up – Bradley Wiggins

In a complete twist of fate from the recent Sports Personality of The Year Awards, you’ve decided that the 1st and 2nd places should be switched for our gong. 26-year-old Ennis enjoyed possibly the best summer of her life during the Olympic Games, and her gold-winning heptathlon moment during Super Saturday secured her position as the poster girl of the Games. Oh, and with abs like a multi-faceted steel cheese grater you really can’t ask for better inspiration to start that new year exercise resolution. To the gym!

Most Embarrassing Moment of The Year

Winner – Christoper Maloney reaching the X Factor final

Runner up – Justin Bieber vomiting on stage during his tour

Oh dear. It’s not been a very good year for The X Factor. The ratings plummeted and it didn’t make an impact in our Best TV Show category, with Strictly being the real talent show winner of the year. This might have been partly down to this year’s ‘villain’ Christopher Maloney. The Jane McDonald aspiring, carrot juice tanning, backstage bitching contestant had Twitter all in a tiz. ‘Who was voting for him?’ you cried. Well somebody was. Never mind, at least now he’s won something this year…

LGBT Zero

Winner – Mitt Romney

Runner up – Cardinal Keith O’Brien

The presidential election of 2012 was the big political event of the year, and we were firmly Team Obama, so it’s no surprise that your LGBT Zero is Mitt Romney. Obama’s opponent has strong views against same-sex marriage, believing that the union should only be between a man and a woman, and declaring that every child ‘deserves a mother and father’. There were fears that if elected, he would set equal rights back to a time when LGBT people were considered far from being normal. So thank goodness our friends in America saw sense, and made sure that Obama got four more years in the White House. And you know what that means? Forty-eight more months of Michelle looking fabulous. Perfect.

LGBT Hero

Winner – Dr Christian Jessen

Runner up – Ben Cohen: Stand Up Foundation

Our biggest category could really have been won by any of our nominees, as each one of them has contributed tirelessly to the LGBT community over the past year. A special mention has to go to our runner up, rugby player Ben Cohen whose work with his Stand Up Foundation goes from strength to strength with its goal of stamping out homophobic bullying. But your winner is everybody’s favourite TV health expert, Dr Christian Jessen. The openly gay presenter of Embarrassing Bodies and The Ugly Face of Beauty, works extensively to educate people on sexual health and HIV, whilst also assisting charities with his quest to make the UK a healthier place. Contributing to the National AIDS Trust’s fundraising art exhibition, and a huge supporter of both Terrence Higgins Trust and Stonewall, means that we love the Dr for more than just prodding wrinkly winkies on television. A strong advocate for same-sex marriage, and always on hand with medical advice on Twitter, (in his trademark capital letters), means you’ve crowned Jessen as your LGBT Hero of 2012. Bravo.

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Olympic star signs up to HIV charity’s Kilimanjaro trek

Tasha Danvers, an Olympic medallist in Beijing and one of Great Britain’s biggest Olympic stars of the last decade, has signed up to take part in a Kilimanjaro trek to raise vital awareness and money for London’s community HIV charity, Positive East.

The Olympian has pledged her support to the community HIV charity by agreeing to climb Africa’s tallest mountain, which will be a gruelling week’s trekking from 8 February, alongside a team of 15 from Positive East. They will help to raise vital funds to ensure they can continue to provide their range of support groups targeted at east London’s growing HIV-positive African community.

London-born Danvers agreed to take part because she felt a ‘sense of duty’, and wants to be able to support her community. She said, ‘As an Olympian you often spend time having to be very selfish in order to achieve your goals.  It’s so refreshing for me to be able to do something challenging for the benefit of others.’

‘Positive East’s work is hugely important to the communities of London. When I heard the Kilimanjaro Challenge would contribute to something which works right at the grassroots of our communities I couldn’t say no. It’s a fabulous project which helps hundreds of the neediest people in London to get back on their feet in the face of adversity and live full, healthy lives.’

The former track and field star hopes that by signing up to Positive East’s Kilimanjaro Challenge she can inspire people around her to get involved too. ‘I love working with charities,’ she said, ‘And it’s even better when I get to encourage other people to get involved too. I think sometimes we underestimate what even the smallest gesture could mean for someone else.’

To contribute and support the challenge go to the official Just Giving page to pledge your support. To keep up to date with the latest developments from Kilimanjaro follow @PositiveEast and @TashaDanvers on Twitter.

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Essex named ‘Randiest Place in Britain’

Essex has been named the ‘Randiest Place in Britain’, after an analysis of TheGayUK’s most visited pages showed that the county’s cruising page was the most searched page for cruising information on the site.

The land that gave us TOWIE and Rylan Clark, ranked 19th most popular page on the whole website, which hosts in excess of five thousand pages of content. Amongst the top 10 counties where known cruising grounds exist, Surrey was second most popular, whilst Cumbria came in at number 5 and Glasgow at number 10.

Galop, an anti violence and policing group for lesbian, gay and bisexual people said, ‘There is no law specifically prohibiting cruising, and sex in public places is not illegal as long as other people who might be offended cannot see you and are unaware that you are having sex. Police guidelines advise that the police should only respond to complaints from the public and should not mount proactive operations designed to catch people cruising’.

Matthew Hodson from leading gay mens’ sexual health charity GMFA says, ‘If you’re going cruising, and you want to have sex, take condoms and lube with you, as the other guy may not have any. People often don’t talk much when they’re cruising, so be clear in your own head about what it is you want, and what you will and will not do sexually, and stick to that.’

‘Always be careful in cruising grounds, as muggers and others prey on people who use them. Don’t take valuables with you. Take a walk around the cruising ground and check where the exits are. Try not to be too far away from other people for too long, stay close to groups. Trust your gut instincts, if something doesn’t feel right, walk away from the situation.’

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Julie Burchill calls for trans rights activists to stop ‘bullying others in turn’

In a provocative article for The Observer, Sugar Rush author Julie Burchill attacked the trans community for ‘bullying’ Suzanne Moore, causing mass-outrage online.

Julie Burchill’s article, ‘Transsexuals should cut it out’, describes trans people as ‘dicks in chicks’ clothing’, ‘trannies’, and makes insensitive jokes about gender reassignment surgery throughout, ending by saying, ‘Trust me, you ain’t seen nothing yet. You really won’t like us [cisgender women] when we’re angry’. Other remarks include her comparing the online trans community to a savage dead sheep, ‘Black and White Minstrels telling Usain Bolt how to run’ and  ‘inner-city kids who shoot another inner-city kid dead in a fast-food shop for not showing them enough ‘respect”. Readers were also left reeling by Burchill’s description of women not born with female gender assigned at birth as ‘imagined’ and ‘educated beyond all common sense and honesty’. The journalist also takes offence at the term ‘cis’ [as in ‘cisgender’], used to describe those whose birth gender assignment and gender identity are aligned.

This caused massive reactions online, with trans activists and supporters of trans rights all decrying Julie Burchill’s article.

Comments on the article were opened earlier today, with the most recommended being from a user called votesaxon, who said, ‘I am a woman, working class and a feminist. You do not speak for all “natural-born women“. You do not speak for me. You use the language of a bigot when you speak about the trans lobby. What is next, an article about the gay agenda? I have been a feminist for as long as I can remember and this is the first time I feel ashamed of that. You do not speak for all of us’. This received 477 recommendations (at time of publishing) from readers.

Julie Burchill’s reasoning behind this article is because, ‘my friend was being monstered on Twitter, to the extent that she had quit it, for supposedly picking on a minority – transsexuals’.

Suzanne Moore wrote a piece about body image for Red: The Waterstones Anthology, where she, according to the article, said women were angry about ‘not having the ideal body shape – that of a Brazilian transsexual’.

Julie Burchill goes on to defend Julie Bindel and describes how ‘they have persecuted another of my friends’ in a ‘vile way’.

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National AIDS Trust: ‘The public are still confused about how you contract HIV’

New statistics from the National AIDS Trust released today, show that the general public are still confused about the way you can contract HIV. People also continue to underestimate the importance of safer sex and believe HIV was a bigger problem in the 80s and 90s, than it is today.

Nearly half (46%) of the general public wrongly think you can get HIV from being bitten, spat at or coming into contact with a discarded needle, the new survey shows. The quiz, taken by 12,000 members of the public around World AIDS Day, was created by NAT to explore and challenge people’s perceptions about HIV in the UK. It also revealed only 39% of people realise that over 90% of HIV infections in the UK are from unsafe sex.

Chief Executive of the National AIDS Trust, Deborah Jack comments, ‘We often read stories in the media about people having to take HIV tests after being spat at, bit or stepping on a needle in a park, however the risk from these activities is either non-existent or incredibly low.’

‘Misinformation about how you can contract HIV leads to anxiety and feeds stigma and discrimination towards people living with the disease. This stigma can be incredibly damaging. It is also an immense distraction from the overwhelming risk factor for HIV in the UK – unsafe sex.’

The quiz also discovered the public think HIV was a bigger problem in the 80s and 90s than in the present day, with 45% believing the highest number of gay men diagnosed in a single year was in the 80s or 90s, however it was actually 2011.

So why do people still have all these common misconceptions today? Sarah Radcliff, Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer for the National AIDS Trust, thinks it stems from a major miscommunication in schools. ‘There is a real problem with sex education in schools, it’s patchy or non-existent and in many cases completely ignores discussions around gay sex and relationships. There also hasn’t been a public HIV awareness campaign in the UK  for many years, yet our scientific advancements in HIV have increased greatly during that time. A lot of these misconceptions stem from out of date information. Misinformed media reporting also doesn’t help – reading about people having HIV tests after picking up a discarded needle increases anxiety and feeds stigma toward people with HIV.’

How can we change this though? Sarah went on to say, ‘We are sure the newly launched HIV Prevention England will be doing a lot to educate gay men – as well as African men and women – on the need to protect themselves and their partners. But they won’t cover HIV awareness amongst the general public. That will be the responsibility of Local Authorities from April and, without the budget ringfenced, HIV awareness could easily slip down the priority list. There also needs to be national leadership shown on  improving the general public’s HIV awareness, and tackling the myths and stigma which remain.’

It seems to be a problem that needs to be solved once and for all in 2013. Deborah Jack added, ‘As a matter of urgency the Government needs to put resources behind educating people that HIV hasn’t gone away, it is more prevalent than ever, and safer sex is vital to reduce HIV transmission.’

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Jodie Foster comes out during Golden Globes speech

Jodie Foster has come out during her Golden Globes speech.

The actress thanked her former long-term partner Cydney Bernard while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award at Sunday night’s event.

‘I guess I have a sudden urge to say something that I’ve never been able to air in public that I’m a little nervous about – but maybe not as nervous as my publicist. So I’m just going to put it out there, loud and proud, right? I’m going to need your support on this,’ Foster said, before joking that the announcement was that she is ‘single’.

‘I hope you won’t be disappointed that there won’t be a big coming out speech tonight, because I already did my coming out a thousand years ago, back in the Stone Age, in those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to friends and family and co-workers then gradually, proudly to everyone that knew her, everyone she actually met. But now, apparently, I’m told that every celebrity is to honour the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance and a prime-time reality show.’

Referencing her youth as a child actress in the 1970s, Foster continued, ‘Seriously, if you had been a public figure from the time that you were a toddler, if you’d had to fight for a life that felt real and honest and normal against all odds, then maybe you too might value privacy above all else. Privacy. In the future people will look back and remember how beautiful it once was. I have given everything, up there, from the time that I was three years old. That’s reality show enough, don’t you think?

‘There’s no way I could ever stand here without acknowledging one of the deepest loves of my life: my heroic co-parent, my ex-partner in love but righteous soul sister in life, my confessor, ski buddy, consiglieri, most beloved BFF of 20 years, Cydney Bernard,’ said the veteran actress, whose career includes two Oscar wins.

Foster also offered an emotional thank you to her mother Evelyn, who suffers from dementia.

The actress hinted that she may be retiring from acting. ‘I may not be up on this stage again – on any stage for that matter,’ she said. ‘Change – you’ve got to love it.’ She was later said to have clarified these rumours, saying at the following press conference, ‘Oh, no, I could never stop acting. You’d have to drag me behind a team of horses.’

The Cecil B. DeMille Award is given for ’outstanding contribution to the world of entertainment’. Former recipients include Steven Spielberg, Shirley MacLaine, Audrey Hepburn, Alfred Hitchcock, Judy Garland and Fred Astaire.

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Mayor confirms successful bidder to run capital’s Pride celebrations

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, today confirmed that London LGBT + Community Pride (LLCP) have been selected to run the capital’s Pride celebrations.

The announcement follows an invitation by the Mayor for non-profit, community based organisations to bid to develop one of the biggest LGBT celebrations in the world. Each summer the parade and festival attract hundreds of thousands of people from across the UK and overseas, and the Mayor is providing funding to secure the event’s long-term future.

London LGBT + Community Pride have been offered a grant agreement worth up to £500,000 over five years, to stage the event in 2013 and develop it over five years. Waiving the fee to use Trafalgar Square, plus assistance from a Greater London Authority events officer, will bring the total value of support to around £650,000.

Boris Johnson said, ‘London’s Pride celebrations are one of the biggest and most high profile events in our city’s cultural calendar. They are enormously popular and underpin London’s status as one of the best cities in the world for LGBT people, who make an enormous contribution to the social and economic life of the capital. With a new partner, strongly rooted in the community, our ambition is to see a successful event that is sustainable in the longer term.’

Speaking on behalf of the Board of London LGBT + Community Pride, Michael Salter said, ’We’re delighted with the support we’ve already had for our bid from the community but the hard work starts now. We have five months to raise the funding required, finalise plans and make our vision a reality. We’ve already begun working with community groups and sponsors and now we are looking for motivated individuals to get involved and join the small army of volunteers that are essential to making Pride a roaring success.  We are a Community Interest Company, which means any surplus made can only be used to support the event in future years or donated to LGBT+ organisations and we hope this will appeal to potential sponsors.’

The company has specific aims and ambitions for the future of Pride events. These include building a longer term and more diverse festival culminating in a weekend of celebration, and eventually moving the event out of the congested streets of Soho and to some of London’s parks. They also aim to build a festival encompassing arts, politics, entertainment and sport that showcases both the talent and contribution of the LGBT+ community and the positive impact it has on the Capital. They will be announcing more details about their plans for this year’s Pride celebrations in due course.

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Stonewall urges equal marriage sympathisers to write to MPs asking for support

Stonewall is urging same-sex Marriage Bill supporters in England and Wales to ask their MPs to argue in favour of the measure by February 5, when it will be finally debated; the Government is publishing the bill to introduce, if approved, equal marriage.

The organisation is also asking for straight people to join in and has advised supporters against complacency. According to results from an Ipsos MORI poll last December, 73% of people in Britain are in favour of equal marriage.

A clear majority supports the measure: three in five individuals of faith and over 80% of under 50s agree to it, as shown in Stonewall’s Living Together report last year, which was based on a YouGov poll.

‘Sadly, the minority of people who oppose equal marriage consistently use mistrust and smears to argue against it’, said Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill. He adds, ‘Supporters of this modest measure mustn’t let a vocal minority block equality’.

Stonewall urges people to tweet, e-mail, phone or write to their MPs and request their support for the bill before its second debate on February 5 2013.

Ben Summerskill explains why: ‘We need straight people with lesbian or gay friends and relatives to stand up for their rights too. Equality benefits everyone, which is why we need every supporter to press MPs to vote for it’. The message, he says, is simple. ‘Speak now, or forever hold your peace’.

Stonewall’s campaign website gives supporters a range of resources to help them on the quest for equality.

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THT and HPA launch pilot scheme allowing gay men to test for HIV by post

HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust along with the Health Protection Agency are co-launching a pilot project that will allow gay and bisexual men to access HIV home sampling kits by post.

From 30 January 2013, men in England will be able to visit Terrence Higgins Trust’s website and request delivery of an HIV home sampling kit. The service is free and confidential, all the user has to do is provide a finger-prick of blood, which they then send to the lab for testing. Users should receive their result within a week of them returning the sample, either by text message (if the result is negative) or with a telephone call to provide support and refer them to specialist HIV services (if the result is reactive). The pilot has been set up to provide an alternative method of testing for men who are unable to access their local sexual health clinic, or who want a more private way to test.

Gay and bisexual men remain one of the groups most at risk of HIV infection in the UK. However, one in four gay and bisexual men with HIV is unaware that they have it. This has been identified as a key factor driving the epidemic among this group.

Jason Warriner, Clinical Director at Terrence Higgins Trust, said, ‘Currently, we have a big focus on driving down undiagnosed HIV within the gay community. We need to explore every possible avenue to get more men testing more often. Starting to introduce home sampling programmes removes another obstacle to the kind of community-wide focus on testing we need in order to halt the spread of HIV on the gay scene.’

Dr Anthony Nardone, Head of Sexual Health Promotion at the Health Protection Agency, added, ‘The Health Protection Agency is supporting this project because, with an estimated one in four HIV positive gay men unaware of their infection, we must encourage more to test at least annually and more often if they have had unprotected sex with a new or casual partner. Ordering a HIV home sampling kit by post makes following this advice even easier. An early HIV diagnosis means timely treatment and a much improved prognosis.’