All posts filed under: Northern Ireland

HIV self tests now available in North thanks to legal change

From yesterday, following a legal move1 made by the North’s health minister, it is now possible to buy HIV self-testing kits and to test yourself for HIV. Speaking on World AIDS Day, [Simon Hamilton MLA] said: “The change in the law will allow HIV self-testing kits to be sold to the public in Northern Ireland. Some people are reluctant to get tested for a number of reasons, including stigma and a fear of being judged, so self-testing will have an important role in reaching those who are not using existing services.”—DHSSPS press release 1 Dec 2015. Testing at home is only one option of many available. There is also the more traditional route of going to the GUM clinic at one of several hospitals, or going to your own General Practitioner. There are also rapid testing projects at The Rainbow Project and Positive Life. It should be borne in mind, however, that a home test may produce a false positive result or that the test may not be correct because of the window period. False reassurance may be …

51% of new HIV diagnoses were made at a late stage.

“Statistics show that 51% of new HIV diagnoses were made at a late stage. If you’ve put yourself at risk it is really important to get tested for HIV to ensure an early diagnosis. People respond better to treatment when they are diagnosed at an earlier stage of disease.”—Dr Neil Irvine, Consultant in Public Health, PHA The statistics for HIV in 2014 have been published by Northern Ireland’s Public Health Agency.

HIV self-testing kits to be legal in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s Health Minister, Simon Hamilton MLA, has announced his intention to lift the restrictions on HIV self-testing in Northern Ireland. Currently anyone wishing to test for HIV has to go to a health professional at a GP surgery, sexual health clinic or Genitourinary Medicine (GUM) clinic. Self-testing involves an individual taking a sample, performing the test and interpreting the results without the involvement of a health professional. A reactive (positive) result must be confirmed with another test taken by a health professional in a clinical setting. This is standard practice for all reactive HIV tests to confirm the result and ensure linkage into care and support. Speaking on World AIDS Day, Mr Hamilton said: “The change in the law will allow HIV self-testing kits to be sold to the public in Northern Ireland. Some people are reluctant to get tested for a number of reasons, including stigma and a fear of being judged, so self-testing will have an important role in reaching those who are not using existing services.” Currently around 94 new cases …

Getting back to behind the camera

I have been conked out due to shingles for many weeks, and it is only in the past week that I have stopped taking the anti-depressant tablets that actually helped to numb the pain. But whilst I had been stuck in the house, I started to sort out my computer and catch up on emails and so on. I attempted to sign into the website of the Royal Photographic Society, which I had joined back in March. I had not received any welcome pack, so I emailed them. It seems that there was a problem with their website and it had timed out whilst processing my application, so they have started my membership from this month and made it for a year. The pack arrived this week and I have been enjoying reading the Journal. I have created a first Gallery on the RPS website entitled Northern Irish scenes. I have neglected my photography since I got to Gibraltar, but I intend to start taking more photos again. There are so many features on my camera which …

Thank you Troy Michael for helping me to tell my story too…

Earlier this week, Troy Michael, Mr Gay Iceland told Gay Star News about being raped when he was 12 by a friend of his older brother. For some reason, I only saw it this evening. I was not sure that I wanted to read the article, but I persevered and did so. You may well wonder why I would not want to read his story? Well, it is for a simple reason – it is far too close to my experience for comfort… and it is time for me to tell my story too. 

A statement from the Combined NI LGBT Communities…

As many readers will know, many of the Unionist politicians in Northern Ireland have real problems with allowing the LGBT communities in the Province to exist peacefully and to express their culture. Following on from the statement issued by the combined Unionist parties this morning, my friend Stephen Glenn has published a statement from combined LGBT communities on his blog saying that is time for us to seek our cultural expression as LGBT British subjects living in Northern Ireland to be recognised: “The combined Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities in Northern Ireland call upon the First Minister to establish a time-bound commission of inquiry with the necessary legal powers and resources to examine the equal marriage, gay adoption and MSM lifetime bloodban impasses and the wider issues these represent. “This is consistent with policy in the rest of the Union he holds so dear. “The issue of LGBT equality will not go away after the Pride parades. “This is a further part of our graduated response strategy, and follows on from our raising issues …

A question of conscience… and printing

The question was raised by a Unionist MP in the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions. The answer of British Prime Minister, David Cameron was that tolerance towards people of a different sexuality is an important part of being British. Now, remember, this question was raised by a Unionist MP, someone who fundamentally believes that Northern Ireland must be part of the United Kingdom… The case of the refusal to provide a service to bake a cake by Ashers Baking Company was drawn to my attention early yesterday. I read with great interest the comments of Gregory Campbell MP MLA following today’s Prime Minister’s Questions, “This latest case locally has seen a family-owned bakery threatened by legal action because they would not print a political slogan onto a cake. Such a message ran contrary to the company’s Christian values. “It is disappointing that the prime minister would not comment on the need for religious freedom to be protected through the introduction of a conscience clause. ” He added: “Tolerance needs to be a two-way …

The best possible care for those living with HIV in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s only HIV-specific support organisation, Positive Life is carrying out a survey on HIV patients’ experiences in hospital settings with the aim of getting the best possible care for all living with HIV here in Northern Ireland. The research is to gauge if individuals with HIV are treated differently in a hospital setting due to their condition. A number of advocacy issues have been raised by clients of Positive Life with regard to this topic with some concerned that health professionals on the ground have poor knowledge—awareness around Health and Social Care Trusts’ HIV policies and that some Trusts do not appear to have a specific HIV policy. This survey asks a number of questions with regard to experience of hospital settings, treatment by hospital staff as well as policies and training around HIV for hospital staff. The information gathered through this research will be confidential. It will be used by Positive Life to lobby each HSC Trust to ensure that each has an appropriate policy of which staff are aware and that staff …