The phrase ‘unprecedented times’ is one that we’ve become all too familiar with over the last 9 months, but it remains a very apt term for what we as a community have been through.
Our usual work environments (such as pride events, training sessions or face to face support) have had to change and adapt. It’s hard to reimagine a time in which ‘drop in’ anything - let alone testing - could go ahead.
Yet still services, communities and people across Scotland have found new ways to connect, share and support one another. World AIDS Day offers a chance to reflect but also, to quote Fox Fisher, “mourn the dead and fight like hell for the living”.
In Scotland, gay and bisexual men are still impacted by poor health and wellbeing, and are more likely than other groups to become HIV positive. The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have heightened risks, diminished the support available and left many members of our community in challenging and dangerous situations.
Over the past year, we have been developing and adapting our work to ensure that our community felt supported during what has been a difficult period. In March we launched our live chat service on the SX website, this meant that visitors to the website could speak to a member of the SX team directly. This enabled us to answer requests more quickly and link people in for support and advice. In the first six months we spoke to 254 people looking for support.
Another success over the last 9 months was the launch of HIV Self-Test Scotland. Waverley Care’s partnership with HIV Scotland launched in April 2020 and has now seen over 3,500 tests ordered across Scotland and gay and bisexual men making up a substantial proportion of these orders. You can still order your test today.
We also launched sexual health and wellbeing information for trans men on our website. This includes information on sexual and reproductive health, HIV, and mental wellbeing. This latest information brings together the experiences of men in our community and the expertise of our partners at Scottish Trans Alliance to provide trans men with a resource they can use with confidence, enabling them to be more informed when it comes to sex, health and wellbeing.
We want to you feel able to get the information and support that is important for you. Get in touch via our live chat function, e-mail or phone. We’re here to help.
If we have learnt anything over the past 32 years of World AIDS days, when the community works together anything is achievable.
We want to say thank you to all our partners and supporters.