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RESEARCH SHOWS DRIVE TO INCREASE HIV TESTING IS HAVING AN IMPACT

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In light of the AIDS Impact Conference in Cape Town, BioSURE positions itself as the easiest and only regulated HIV Self-Test on the South African market.
Dr Michael Evangeli from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London, spoke at AIDS Impact, an international conference on HIV and AIDS, in Cape Town on 15th November. He presented several findings from a study into the pre- and post-test experiences of people who test HIV-positive from an HIV self-test.

Harry
The presentation at the meeting coincides with the launch of National HIV Testing Week, which Terrence Higgins Trust are marking by opening a pop-up self-test HIV shop in Hackney. Prince Harry is a passionate advocate for HIV testing and attended the opening of the pop-up shop and acted as shopkeeper, handing out BioSURE tests.
“So the instructions are idiot-proof, for people like myself?” asked Harry when presented with the BioSURE test. It’s well-recognised as the easiest self-test to perform.
Available legally in the UK since April 2014, HIV self-testing kits enable an HIV test to be performed by an individual without professional support, usually at home. Their availability may overcome some barriers to HIV testing such as inconvenience and concerns about confidentiality, helping to address the large numbers of people who are infected with HIV but don’t know they are.
“At BioSURE, we have used our innovative HIV Self-Test as a significant tool in normalising the conversation about HIV and testing generally. Self-testing allows people to take responsibility and ownership of their HIV status. We wouldn’t dream of telling people with whom, how or when they choose to have sex and yet, until now, they have been separated from knowing their own status by a healthcare professional. Self-testing is just another testing option for those it suits and BioSURE HIV Self-Test is simple, convenient and discreet,” explains Brigette Bard, BioSURE founder and CEO. “We passionately believe that self-testing can help to reduce HIV infection rates.”
Terrence Higgins Trust, the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity, designed and delivered a pilot study between June and August 2016, providing free blood self-testing kits for target populations of men who have sex with men and Black African men and women. They used online advertising on Facebook, Twitter, dating apps and the THT website. The study whose findings are being presented in Cape Town, involved interviews with HIV-positive men who have sex with men.
Results from the interviews revealed that participants were positive about having tested at home and knowing their HIV status. They all reported previous negative experiences of testing in clinics in the past, for example, feeling judged. Participants experienced apprehension and anxiety about taking the test, even though all had been tested for HIV before.
All participants took the self-test alone, at home, although they would now give advice to others who thought they might be HIV-positive not to test alone. Participants reported attending a clinic for confirmatory testing within hours although some were frustrated that healthcare professionals did not know about self-testing.
Conclusions drawn from the evaluation at Royal Holloway show that there are real benefits to having the option to test at home but there’s a need for further education and training on self-testing for clinics and GPs.

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Pink Loerie 2018 Launch Reveals Meaning of S&M

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After weeks of guessing, the theme of the 2018 Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival has been revealed in Knysna. Slap & Tickle couldn't make it - it's Sequins & Mascara!

SMAt the launch of the 2018 Pink Loerie, held at the spectacular Villa Castollini that overlooks the whole of Knysna, the theme and some of the plans for 2018 were revealed. In attendance was Georlene Wolmarans, Speaker of the Knysna Municipality, local businesses and other dignitaries who were curious to hear what the S&M theme is all about. Entertained by drag artist Corné, as well as singers Tanja Storm and Bea Crawford, the guests were also eager to find out more about the programme for the next edition of this annual event.

The Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival has become something of an institution in the Eden District of the Western Cape. It used to be held during the long weekend in April, but because so many events take place over the same period, the organizing committee and Knysna Tourism Association sat down and looked at the calendar to find another date which is not as congested. After the devastating fires a few months ago, it is crucial that an event like this continues, as it helps #KnysnaRises. And so the decision was made to find a more suitable date, which means that next year the Pink Loerie will take place 24 – 27 May.

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The Full Monty comes to Cape Town

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The award-winning Broadway musical, The Full Monty, returns to the South African stage in a vibrant 20th anniversary showcase in Cape Town, 10 to 25 November, at the GrandWest Casino, featuring an all-South African cast and produced by p2 Productions. The musical is adapted from the 1997 Academy Award-winning British film, known for its highly anticipated closing scene, of six out-of-shape, regular blokes going all the way at a local strip club. Nominated for ten Tony Awards, the critically acclaimed musical enjoyed a run of 770 shows on Broadway in 2000 before moving onto the West End in 2002.FullMonty
Director Laura Bosman’s aim is to highlight the heart, humour and the humanity of the much-loved musical. “Although the show is about six men who go “all the way”, for me this is not the most important part of the story. At its core, The Full Monty deals with men’s issues which are often overlooked or ignored at the expense of more widely accepted women’s issues. We see how these men struggle with their body image, how they deal with the devastating emasculation caused by unemployment, and the lengths they will go to hide their fears and feelings of inadequacy.” According to Bosman, South African men have typically grown up with the idea that boys don’t cry, and she feels it’s time to dispel this thinking so that men can be heard and encouraged. “I think this musical celebrates this message in a fun, light-hearted way, despite the very real subject matter.”
The story follows the journey of six steel workers in 1980’s Sheffield who lose their jobs after the steel factory shuts down. With bills to pay and families to support, the men, hesitant at first, decide to go with the charismatic lead character’s brilliant idea of giving the ladies of Sheffield something the Chippendales don’t: ‘real’ men who will ‘go all the way’ for one night only. Matthew Roy, who makes his debut into musical theatre with this production, plays the lead character, Jerry Lukowski, and believes that this character puts the spotlight on issues many men are still facing today. “Jerry is having his entire worldview questioned. His concept of what it is to be a man is being challenged and his identity, being founded on that concept, is being challenged along with it. The country, the people and the economy are all changing around him and he feels that he is rapidly becoming obsolete, which scares him.”
While cheering the six men on throughout the show, the audience also gets a glimpse into other difficult issues these men are facing, such as divorce, depression and homosexuality. In the end, courage and bravery prevails as the ‘stripping-six’ find true strength and friendship in each other, while also being reassured by the love and support of the women in their lives.

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Sleep your way around the world

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With our weak rand, travel, particularly international travel is a very costly pleasure. This is not so much because of the cost of the ticket, though a return trip to Cape Town in high season can cost over R4000 whereas a ticket on the same dates to Rome or Bangkok is around R7500. The bigger problem is once you are there, where are you going to stay as accommodation will cost a whole lot more? Because of this a lot of people are turning to groups like Queer Couchsurfers on Facebook, and they report that this is the way to travel. Where else can you find free places to stay when travelling around the world, or even at home in SA? You may even get a shag into the deal!Manonbed
There is www.misterbnb.com which has over 10 000 hosts in 130 countries around the world, and www.staywithfamily.com .They arrange home swaps or sharing for the gay traveller and have 4000+ members around the world. On the homeswapping side there is www.homearoundtheworld.com ,which offers not only home swapping but also hospitality exchanges, room exchanges, house sitting, couch surfing and even vacation sharing, so you can avoid those single supplements that can make travel for single people so expensive. And www.crashpadder.com has now apparently added an LGBT group to their site. Anyone out there with more info in this line, please send it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so we can share it with others who may be interested.

Risk and Rates of Depression in HIV

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Depression is the most common psychiatric illness worldwide, with the average person having a lifetime risk of about 10% of having a depressive episode (1). It is also one of the most underdiagnosed psychiatric conditions, especially in men.
However, research has shown that people with HIV have a much higher risk of developing depression, about 2-3 times higher (2), with some studies showing rates higher than 50% (3), of people who have HIV also having depression.Anovalogos
So what does this mean for you? If you have HIV you stand a greater risk for developing depression due to a number of factors. However, depression is treatable, and so the sooner you recognise the symptoms, the sooner you can get help.
So what are the symptoms of depression? Depression is more than just a low mood, or feeling sad. It effects just about every aspect of our lives, and that’s why its so important to get treated if you do have depression. Below is a list of symptoms that may indicate depression. Some of these you may not have even noticed in yourself, but may have been pointed out by a friend or co-worker.

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