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      News From The Eddystone Trust

      Why we all need Pride

      Why we all need Pride

      Pride.  

      You may have noticed rainbow flags appearing on products from Vodka to breakfast cereal signifying that Pride month is upon us; a month to mark the Stonewall riots of 1969 and for the LGBTQ+ to stand together in defiance of homophobia and discrimination. The visibility of the Pride flag and messages of inclusion and diversity are used to send hope to those who may be struggling with or on account of their sexuality.  

      But do we need Pride? Whilst growing up in a small town in the South West in the 80’s/90’s my answer would have been an unequivocal yes. I had my share of bullying at school, comments shouted in the street and more than a few hairy situations in bars. As sad as it sounds, I had come to accept these things as part of my lot. Messages of Pride, inclusion, and the idea that things could and will get better would have really helped me, and all those in a similar situation, on our journey. But that was then, haven’t things changed? 

      In the UK homosexuality was decriminalised in 1967 and same sex marriages became legal in 2014. The Equality Act of 2010 reinforced and widened legislation stopping individuals being discriminated due to their sexuality. After years of campaigning Section 28, which prevented schools promoting homosexual relationships, was removed from law in 2003. Aren't the LGBTQ+ community creating a double standard in asking to be treated the same as everyone else but wanting parties and marches based around our differences? As triggering as the question is, it’s this people are pointing to when asking ‘when is straight pride?’ 

      My answer is a big, fat YES we will always need Pride!  

      This week it was announced the town council where I live unveiled plans for a rainbow footpath, which would place the town ‘on the inclusivity map.’  A stretch of pavement will be painted with the pride and progress flags, paid for from a Town Centre Emergency Recovery Fund.  At first engaging with those against the path felt like a usual evening of sparring online. At one point I offered my services, you know, as a big, fat gay of the town, to cut the ribbon. It was reassuring to see many people who weren’t LGBTQ+ yet clearly allies supporting the path and challenging others on their views. This wasn’t an ‘us and them’ argument.  

      24 hours later and the 'debate' was still raging. Comments like:  

       'Do what you like, but do it in private.'  

       'I don't care if you like men or you are a trans penguin, stop ramming it down our throats.'  

       'Fix the potholes/feed the homeless/give free meals to kids' (and other bugbears that paled into insignificance on voting day)  

      This wasn't funny. People were in uproar. What started for me as baiting those with differing views suddenly felt upsetting and scary, and I cried.   

      This was colours on a pavement. Nothing was being rammed down anyone's throats. To those that needed to see it this path is a symbol of inclusion and acceptance, saying we see you and we welcome you. If this is how people react when a path is proposed, how would they react if they were to see an LGBTQ+ couple holding hands, showing affection, kissing? 

      It's 2021. LGBTQ+ don’t need permission or approval from anyone in terms of what is acceptable and how much of ourselves we can share. Sometimes though, it can still feel like we do.  

      In answer to the question do we need Pride, there are many examples of prejudice and discrimination that show we do still need it. The current tally of countries where it is illegal to be gay stands at 71. 35 of these countries are part of the commonwealth, the UK shares our Queen with half of the countries where it is illegal to be LGBTQ+! This isn't an accident; these laws are a throwback to colonial times and a legacy of the British Empire. As we played such a big part in laying down these rules and influencing these views, don’t we have a responsibility to play a bigger part in changing them?   

      One in five LGBTQ+ persons have experienced a hate crime because of their sexuality in the last 12 months, which increases to two in five trans people. In 2019 two women were attacked on a London bus for refusing to kiss for the entertainment of drunken men. 

      This could feel very depressing so let's not forget the progress that we have made towards equality, inclusion, and acceptance.  As stated above, there were many people in the debate on the rainbow path who were happy to stand up as an ally and challenge those who were putting forward anti-gay views and derogatory comments. Pride festivals are always well supported by those who recognise the importance of events and want to show they stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.  As we saw with the Black Lives Matters protests in 2020, allies are important and play a vital part in changing the social landscape and we need people to continue to represent. 

      The Eddystone Trust has always fought discrimination for those living with HIV and members of the LGBTQ+ community. We work hard to challenge stereotypes and shatter the idea of what is ‘normal’ sex. Talking about sexual health can be unnerving anyway, without the added complexity of feeling or being judged. This leads to barriers in accessing care and support and can have a serious impact on physical and mental health.  

      As we move through Pride season, whether it’s online or in person, let's wave our rainbow flags with pride in support and solidarity of those who need it! 

      HIV at 40 - what we know

      HIV at 40 - what we know

      Almost 40 years ago today, (5th June 1981), the first case of HIV was reported in America.   A virus that was reported to affect ‘active homosexuals.’  
      Lack of understanding and knowledge of this virus meant that those suffering and dying from the illness were stigmatised and denied the care, dignity and love they needed.
      40 years on things have changed in what we know about HIV:
      • We know people can live long and healthy lives with HIV.
      • We know people living with HIV and take medication to control the virus cannot pass it on.
      • We know conversations about how HIV is acquired allow individuals to recognise any possible exposure to the virus. This allows them to choose a prevention method right for them whether that is condoms or PrEP.
      • We know that by accessing PEP within 72 hours after a possible exposure prevents a person testing positive for HIV.
      • We know that testing regularly for HIV and being diagnosed early and accessing medication prevents damage to the immune system, further health problems and onward transmission.
      Above all, we know that the fear of HIV and lack of knowledge around the virus reinforces stigma and prejudice. Stigma prevents people talking about the virus, stops people testing and being diagnosed. It also stops people living with HIV facing up to their diagnosis, accessing care and living full and authentic lives.

      As we commit to no new transmissions of HIV by 2030 we want to stop the silence and fear around HIV. We owe it to the 30 million that have died from this virus.

      If you want to reach out to us about HIV or your sexual health then you can do so by calling 0800 328 3508 or by emailing info@eddystone.org.uk

      Syphilis is back, but this time it's treatable...

      Syphilis is back, but this time it's treatable...

      As rates of Syphilis are continuing to rise across the South West, The Eddystone Trust are launching the KNOW, TEST, PREVENT campaign across Plymouth and the surrounding areas. We want people to know what Syphilis is and how it can be acquired, we also want people to test for Syphilis by ordering a full online home testing kit from Your SHiP.  We are also asking people to look at how they can prevent Syphilis by making changes within their sexual health routine by signing up for Condoms Direct service whereby you can get condoms and lube delivered discreetly to your door.  

      Links to the campaign will be sent out on hook up ads like Grindr and across our social media. For more information on the Know, Test, Prevent campaign (including how to order a testing kit) please go here:

      CLICK HERE FOR KNOW, TEST, PREVENT


      Vaccine changes for people living with HIV

      Vaccine changes for people living with HIV

      Health secretary Matt Hancock recently confirmed that all adults who share a home with someone who is immunocompromised will be offered a vaccine by mid-April. This will include people living with someone who is having chemotherapy, has HIV or blood cancer, or are taking drugs to dampen their immune system after an organ transplant.

      This is an important milestone in regards to people living with HIV and those who share a home with them, meaning that jabs should be available for those who wish to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.  

      For more information on this story please visit the following page:

       Covid vaccine changes - Metro

      We'll do our upmost to get the most up to date information on Coronavirus for anyone who is living with HIV so please do keep an eye on our social media channels and website for updates.

      If you have any questions or worries then you can also reach out to us on info@eddystone.org.uk or 0800 328 3508

      Aidsmap Release Living With HIV Video Series for Women

      Aidsmap Release Living With HIV Video Series for Women

      Our colleagues at Aidsmap have released a series of videos that look at issues facing women living with HIV.  We thought we would share them with you as they tackle some of the issues relating to HIV that people face in everyday life.

      We've embeeded them below for you to have a look at and remember if you need to reach out to us for advice on any issues relating to HIV or your sexual health then you can do so by emailing info@eddystone.org.uk or ringing 0800 328 3508 

       

      Cornwall Vacancy for a Community Sexual Health and HIV Worker

      Cornwall Vacancy for a Community Sexual Health and HIV Worker

      The Eddystone Trust are looking for a flexible individual for a part time position (25 hours per week) in Cornwall, salary £17,650 - £22,149 pro-rata depending on experience. 

      The post covers health promotion work around sexual health and HIV prevention, community HIV testing and support to people living with HIV in the county. Work will be conducted both online and in person and will include evenings and weekends. 

      Individuals should be able to work unsupervised whilst adhering to confidentiality and data sharing procedures. Previous experience in the field preferred.  Click the link below to download the job description and application details:

      CLICK FOR JOB DESCRIPTION 

      Please send an up to date CV to info@eddystone.org.uk by Saturday March 27th if you are interested in pursuing this opportunity