Rebooting the rainbow flag

The distinctive six-colour pride flag has been around for almost forty years and is gaining more and more prominence with every year ? in the last few years in particular it has begun to feel like it is everywhere, as large international companies incorporate it into their marketing to show their support for LGBT people, though not without criticism.

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National Testing Week
National Testing Week

National HIV Testing Week

The fourth National HIV Testing Week is underway with the aim to promote HIV testing to gay and bisexual men and black African men and women: together these groups make up seven out of ten people in the UK living with HIV.

If you'd like to find out more about how to get an HIV test, check out our HIV Testing guide.

During HIV Testing Week you can get a free testing kit (usually ?25) from TakeATestUK when you use the code SAVE16 even if you live in Wales where free tests are not usually available.

All about Poppers

Following on from our story that poppers will soon be banned in the UK we have added a new page to the website:?what you need to know about the risks, side effects and latest information on poppers.

This page was originally part of the Healthy Gay Hampshire website which closed down when the HIV Prevention Service for the Hampshire area was disbanded. Many thanks to Sue and Andrew for allowing us to bring back information which had been lost. We hope to add more useful information for gay and bisexual men from those websites in time.

See our page about poppers.

Image: GMFA
Image: GMFA

PrEP support expands

A new article from NAM details how more sexual health clinics are offering clinical support (kidney function tests) to those people who are taking PrEP purchased outside of the UK, with one clinic offering free therapeutic drug monitoring which checks how much of the drug is actually in the body. This has two advantages: it proves the drug being bought from overseas is genuine and that the individual's body is able to maintain a drug level capable of blocking HIV if exposed.

The article also offers reassurance that the Cipla generic version of Truvada, the drug used in PrEP, has been tested and approved by the FDA (american drug approval agency).

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Poppers to be banned in the UK when Psychoactive Substances Bill becomes law

Members of the UK parliament have this week debated the Psychoactive Substances Bill which will make "legal highs" (including amyl nitrates and more recent variations – better known as poppers) illegal: with a prison sentence of up to seven years possible for anyone selling them from April 2016.

Poppers are used mostly by gay and bisexual men: by relaxing someone both psychologically and physically (and for many guys heightening sexual excitement), they can make anal sex a lot easier and more fun. There are concerns that HIV transmission could increase if they are banned as guys may be less relaxed and more likely to get small tears or other damage to the anus.

An amendment was tabled which would have added poppers to the list of drugs exempted from the new legislation ... but this failed to pass. The government says it is will consider the expert advice (and a recommendation from the home affairs select committee) to exempt poppers but there is no commitment to do so and even if this does happen it won't be until after the new law comes into force.

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