Scottish Study Shows One-Third of Men with HIV Unaware of Status; NHS Launches HIV Awareness Campaign
More than one-third of HIV-positive men in Scotland's capital of Edinburgh are unaware of their status, according to a recent study conducted by the Dutch group Wolters Kluwer Health, the Edinburgh Evening News reports. According to the News, HIV tests were conducted among 599 men at universities and gay bars throughout Edinburgh, and 33 men tested positive for HIV. Of these men, 12 were unaware that they were living with the virus. The study said, "A high proportion of the HIV-positive men were undiagnosed and not receiving benefits of clinical care." The study also said clinics should "proactively" offer testing to decrease the number of undiagnosed cases.
The release of the study coincides with a new HIV awareness campaign conducted by NHS Lothian in partnership with the Edinburgh-based Gay Men's Health to warn people with multiple sexual partners and men who have sex with men against complacency regarding the virus. The campaign, called the HIV Comeback Tour, will promote condom use and regular HIV testing, as well as attempt to discredit myths surrounding the virus. Steve O'Donnell, spokesperson for NHS Lothian, said, "In many cases, HIV transmission occurs within relationships, so we are reminding [MSM] that it is dangerous simply to assume that neither they nor their partner has HIV or that unprotected sex will be safe."
According to the News, the campaign's messages will be displayed on 20 city buses and 200 posters throughout the city, and posters and postcards will be distributed to bars, physicians' offices and libraries. The campaign's timing overlaps with World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. "The HIV Comeback Tour is now a well established and effective Lothian campaign highlighting the re-emergence of HIV as a continuing sexual health risk for [MSM]," Jim Sherval, a public health specialist for NHS Lothian, said. "World AIDS Day is a day to combat prejudice and remind people to protect themselves. It seemed absolutely right that we should bring both campaigns together."
According to the News, an estimated 5,000 people in Scotland are living with HIV (Morris, Edinburgh Evening News, 11/18).