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How we are failing a generation of young gay men.

Monday, March 9, 2015

New research has found three-quarters of young men who are sexually attracted to other men (young MSM) don’t receive any information about same-sex relationships at school and a third don’t receive any information on HIV transmission and safer sex.

This is at a time when HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with other men aged 15-to-24 have doubled in the past 10 years.

The study by the NAT (National AIDS Trust) of 14-19 year-olds MSM also found:

  • Over half (55%) of survey respondents had experienced bullying and discrimination because of their sexual orientation.
  • Of those who had, 99% had been bullied or discriminated against by a pupil at school and over a third (39%) had been bullied or discriminated against by a teacher or another adult at school.
  • Over a quarter (27%) did not know how HIV was passed on.
  • Almost a third didn’t know you can’t get HIV from kissing
  • Nearly three-quarters didn’t know about PEP – a drug you can take for up to 72 hours which can prevent HIV.

The report, Boys Who Like Boys, is the largest research project of this kind ever conducted in the UK with over 1,000 14-19 year-olds taking part.

Deborah Gold, Chief Executive of NAT, said: “We are failing a generation of young men. It is vital that young MSM are equipped with the right information and knowledge to support their sexual health and emotional well-being. Our research published today shows that this not the case. We have found significant gaps in HIV knowledge, sub-standard sex and relationships education at school, and endemic levels of homophobic bullying.

As a result we continue to see high numbers of new HIV diagnoses and disproportionate levels of poor mental health and problematic drug and alcohol use. 

It is our duty to ensure that young people are safe and supported in school, and leave school with enough knowledge and resilience to look after themselves. Currently this just isn’t happening – and it is a national shame.” 

James Hanson, said: “I was diagnosed with HIV at the age of 18, I knew very little about HIV at that age. I remember very clearly some awful sex ed lessons at school. I was never taught of the love between two men or two women. I was having feelings I didn’t know what to do with and I felt so isolated because it was never spoken about. Looking back now I feel let down.”

I strongly believe the education system fails young LGBTI+ people every day. We have won the battle of equal age of consent and equal marriage in the UK, the next fight is to make inclusive SRE compulsory in all schools.” 

NAT is calling on the all UK Governments to protect young people by making age appropriate Sex and Relationships Education, which is inclusive of same-sex relationships, and HIV knowledge, compulsory in all schools in the UK.

To find out more about HIV visit www.hivaware.org.uk - full report here

Notes to the editor:

For further information please contact:

Suzi Price, communications manager, NAT, 020 7814 6733, suzi.price@nat.org.uk

NAT

NAT (National AIDS Trust) is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to transforming society’s response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expertise and practical resources. We champion the rights of people living with HIV and campaign for change. www.nat.org.uk

Shaping attitudes. Challenging injustice. Changing lives.