HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) has claimed tens of millions of lives globally. In recent years deaths from HIV-related causes are still over 600,000 annually worldwide, while approximately 38 million people are currently living with HIV.
University of Brighton research into HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, and research focused on sexual health among men who have sex with men (MSM), has spearheaded a range of prevention methodologies including a new Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) community organisation funded by the national government in Slovakia, and the development of a nationally coordinated HIV prevention campaign in Japan.
Men who have sex with men continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV
Whilst HIV is now considered a chronic disease and preventable, significant transmission continues throughout the European Union (EU) and the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region. Epidemic patterns and trends are complex and vary widely yet, in general, men who have sex with men continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV/STI and account for more than half of the 1.7m annual new HIV/STI infections globally. They also experience HIV-related stigma and discrimination that impacts negatively on HIV prevention efforts including testing, leading to poor health and social outcomes.
Professor Nigel Sherriff’s successful projects in this field have developed from early research to better understand the mental, physical, and emotional, health and safety needs of young LGBT communities in Sussex. His findings recognised a lack of specialist services for young people and necessary practitioner training to meet those needs. Building on this learning, Nigel Sherriff led the Everywhere project, a European-wide research consortium of 17 partners from eight European countries, which focused on a lack of HIV/STI prevention and support activities for men who have sex with men frequenting gay businesses, such as gay night clubs, in tourist destinations across Europe.
Together with high sexual mobility and tourism within and between countries of the European Union (EU), the study was grounded on the principle that interventions addressing major health threats with a cross-border or global impact such as HIV/STIs should involve the cooperation of multiple countries to be most effective.
Engaging with gay bars, clubs, and sex venues as important settings for HIV/STI prevention
The results showed a need to target communities of men outside formal health settings (such as clinics) and engage with gay businesses such as bars, clubs, and sex venues as important settings for HIV/STI prevention. It also highlighted the key role of outreach workers being trained in social mediation techniques to initiate dialogues, build relations, and implement HIV prevention activities for and with populations of men who have sex with men.