We don’t know who you are…yet

NHS patients in England will be asked about their sexuality under new guidelines designed to ensure gay people aren’t discriminated against, from 2019. The new guidelines recommend that doctors, nurses, and other health professionals ask about sexual orientation during “every face to face contact with the patient, where no record of this data already exists.”

No patient will be obliged to disclose their sexuality, and the new guidelines will not be mandatory on individual NHS trusts.

An NHS spokesperson commented:

“All health bodies and local authorities with responsibility for adult social care are required under the Equality Act to ensure that no patient is discriminated against.

“This information standard is designed to help NHS bodies be compliant with the law by collecting, only where relevant, personal details of patients such as race, sex and sexual orientation. They do not have to do it in every area, people do not have to answer the questions and it will have no impact on the care they receive.”

http://www.refinery29.uk/2017/10/176644/nhs-england-sexuality-guidelines

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HIV in UK down again

There has been an 18 per cent drop in the number of people newly diagnosed with HIV, 5,164 last year, the biggest fall on record, according to Public Health England.

New cases of HIV are falling among gay and bisexual men for the first time, thanks partly to use of Prep.

In London new cases among gay and bisexual men fell by 29 per cent.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/10/03/hiv-cases-among-gay-bisexual-men-drop-first-time-experts-hail/

Tunisia won’t look up your bum any more

AFP reports that Tunisia has banned forced anal examinations to determine sexual orientation, the North African state’s minister for human rights said on Friday.

The authorities carry out the tests on suspected homosexuals but “these exams can no longer be imposed by force, physical or moral, or without the consent of the person concerned”, Mehdi Ben Gharbia told AFP.

Foreign and local rights groups have condemned the practice of forced anal exams as “cruel” and “inhuman”. In Tunisia sodomy is punishable by jail.

http://www.news24.com/Africa/News/tunisia-bans-forced-anal-exams-for-homosexuality-20170922

Prep has changed behaviours

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Two-thirds of gay and bisexual men said they didn’t use a condom the last time they had anal sex, and more than a quarter considered themselves to have a “risky sex life,” including sex with partners who are HIV-positive, reports Newsweek.

Gay Men Fight Aids surveyed 500 gay and bisexual men, asking them about the risk involved in their sex lives. Twenty-seven percent consider themselves to throw caution to the wind in their sex lives.

The use of PrEP has changed all the rules for gay and bisexual men. HIV-negative men on PrEP, and HIV-positive men who have an undetectable viral load, meaning they cannot pass on the infection due to their HIV treatment, can now have sex without a condom without risk.

http://www.newsweek.com/gay-sex-65-percent-men-didnt-wear-condom-last-time-they-did-it-652063

Cure church unmasked in Liverpool

The Liverpool Echo sent a reporter undercover to investigate a so called church in Liverpool offering gay cure therapy.

The Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministry in Anfield was found offering gay people the chance to “cure” themselves of their homosexuality through a relentless prayer session involving three days without food or water.

The reporter was told by “Brother Michael” that being gay is biologically wrong, and that by undergoing prayer therapy [his sexuality] could be corrected to “allow him to marry and have children.”

A petition to make gay cure therapies illegal was rejected by the government, despite all major psychological professional bodies stating it had “the potential to cause harm”.

Your Activist repeats: Your sexuality cannot be changed. Over more than a hundred years, many different methods have been used to try to change people’s sexuality. Not a single one of them worked.

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/echo-goes-undercover-gay-cure-13468107

Gay blood ban relaxed in Wales

Wales is to follow England and Scotland in relaxing blood donation rules for gay and bisexual men and sex workers. As in England and Scotland, sex workers were previously not allowed to donate blood at all.

From early next year men who have sex with men will be able to give blood in Wales three months after their last sexual activity.

Currently gay and bisexual men have to abstain from sex for 12 months before they can give blood.

The Welsh Government is looking at more personalised risk assessments.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-40794104

Transitioning to be reviewed

The government proposes that trans people should be able to choose their legal sex more easily.

Reforms making it easier for transgender people to legally choose their sex by removing the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria and speeding up the bureaucratic process of changing sex will go out to consultation this autumn.

Trans people currently have to provide evidence that they have been in transition for at least two years before they can apply to legally change their gender. They also have to convince an intrusive interview panel. This is now widely viewed as demeaning and discriminatory.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/23/gay-men-blood-donation-three-months-after-sex

Gay blood ban relaxed again

Gay men in England will be allowed to donate blood three months after having sex instead of a year. Medical advances mean the time limit will be reduced again in England and Scotland.

The limit has been one year since it was readjusted in 2011.

Sex workers were barred from donating, but they now will be able to, subject to the same three-month rule.

The Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs – which advises UK health departments – recommended the changes after concluding that new testing systems were accurate and donors were good at complying with the rules.

Prof. James Neuberger, from the advisory committee, said: “Technologies to pick up the presence of the virus have greatly improved, so we can now pick up viruses at a much earlier stage in the infection, and therefore it’s much easier to tell if a blood donor has the virus.”

The new limits will take effect at blood donation centres in Scotland in November, and in early 2018 in England.

The changes mean that men who have sex with other men, people who have sex with high-risk partners – for example, those who have been in areas where HIV is common, and commercial sex workers will be able to donate blood after abstaining from sex for three months.

The rules around people who have undergone acupuncture, piercing, tattooing and endoscopies, and for those with a history of non-prescribed injecting drug use, are now being reviewed, but those are European rules and are subject to EU legislation.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-40669950

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/23/gay-men-blood-donation-three-months-after-sex

New drugs strategy targets chemsex

The Home Office has published its 2017 drug strategy, at a time of a sharp rise in drug-related deaths despite falling levels of use.

It targets psychoactive substances – formerly known as legal highs – performance-enhancing drugs, including “chemsex” substances, and misuse of prescription medicines.

There is a shift away from an “abstinence-only” approach to drug treatment and a return to an emphasis on harm-reduction and recovery.

203,800 people in England and Wales received treatment for drug misuse in 2015-16 and fewer drug users were coming into treatment. The number entering treatment under 25, particularly for heroin use, has fallen substantially in the past 10 years.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jul/14/chemsex-drugs-former-legal-highs-targeted-home-office

More US States ban “gay cures”

US state governments are outlawing gay cure conversion therapy. California became the first to do so in 2012. Eight other states have banned it in some form since. In 2017 alone, Nevada, New Mexico, and Connecticut signed their own bans into law. And two weeks ago a bill passed the Rhode Island Senate.

“We’ve gone from kind of a trickle to what seems to be more of a stream,” said Scott McCoy, senior policy counsel at the Southern Poverty Law Center. SPLC filed the suit against Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, a conversion-therapy group. The case was the first consumer-fraud case heard against the use of conversion therapy in the U.S.

President Obama called for an end to “therapies” that aim to change sexual orientation or gender identity, but a bill introduced to ban conversion therapy at the federal level stalled in Congress last year.

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/07/states-outlawing-conversion-therapy/533121/