HIV does not discriminate
between gay and ‘straight’ people – and neither does this article. HIV is
the fastest growing serious health condition in the UK. There are now 70,000
people living with HIV in the UK, and up to a third of them are unaware they
have the virus. Terrence Higgins Trust estimates that at least 400,000
people could have HIV by 2032 if current trends continue.
LONDON, October 1, 2007 – A new
BBC survey suggests high levels of ignorance and complacency about HIV among
16 to 24-year-olds in the United Kingdom, and marks the start of a two month
BBC HIV awareness campaign starting today and culminating on December 1 –
United Nations World Aids Day – with a special episode of the popular
hospital drama series, Casualty.
Eighty nine per cent of 16 to
24-year-olds rarely or never think about HIV when making decisions about
their sex lives.
And nearly half (41%) of 16 to 24
year olds consider themselves to be at “no risk” of catching HIV.
Forty seven per cent believe that HIV can be passed on from toilet seats
- BBC Survey
The results come despite the fact
that young heterosexuals (18-24s) are at increased risk of HIV and other
STIs – with the number of new diagnoses having continued to increase in the
last ten years. (source: Health Protection Agency).
The HIV awareness campaign will run
across BBC outlets, launching with the two-part BBC Two documentary series,
Stephen Fry: HIV And Me tomorrow (October 2) at 9pm – part two is a
week later at the same time.
In his documentary, Stephen Fry
takes a HIV test to demonstrate how quick (15 minutes) and easy it now can
be to have the test. Despite this, 45% of 16 to 24s would be reluctant to go
for an HIV test if they suspected that they had the disease.
Stephen explores why, despite the
horrific figures – over 40 million worldwide and 70,000 in the UK now live
with the virus – HIV/Aids has fallen off the radar.
The BBC survey, conducted by
Essential Research, found that 77 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds would not
ask a new partner if they had HIV before sex. Sixty eight per cent of 16 to
24-year-olds would not ask a new partner if they had an STI before sex.
Over half (55%) of 16 to 24-year-olds surveyed believe the myth that you
can get HIV from kissing - BBC Survey
The HIV awareness campaign has been
developed by BBC Learning in partnership with sexual health charity Terrence
Higgins Trust to address the high levels of complacency about HIV among 16
An essential part of the BBC’s
campaign is a special interactive website,
“Levels of ignorance about HIV are
at an all time high among the age group most likely to catch a sexually
transmitted infection,” said. Elizabeth McKay, project executive at BBC
“Young people told us they needed
practical information about HIV that they could share with mates. GI Jonny
is fun, always prepared for action, and fully armed with the facts about
The website will help people learn
the essential facts about HIV while customising their own GI action figure.
They can then build an elite force to help raise awareness of the key facts
by sending the character on to their friends through the campaign website or
social networking sites. GI Jonny was designed to appeal to young people
and deliver information in a relevant and unique manner.
Every 70 minutes, somebody in the UK is
diagnosed with HIV - . Terrence Higgins Trust
As well as the GI Jonny website,
there will be viral videos produced by BBC Comedy and The Viral Factory on
youth sites and blogs, a Facebook application, and GI Jonny events in nine
towns and cities across England, Scotland and Wales, as well as events
organised by the NUS at university and colleges.
“Too many young people are leaving
school not knowing how to protect themselves from HIV and other STIs,” says
Genevieve Clark, director of communications at Terrence Higgins Trust.
“HIV is preventable, incurable and
fatal if untreated, so GI Jonny is spreading a vital message in a way that
really appeals to young people.”
During the duration of the
campaign, GI Jonny events will take place in: Brighton, Bristol, Oxford,
Birmingham, Southend, Liverpool, Leeds, Cardiff, Glasgow.
A number of Student Unions will
stage GI Jonny events in late November.
A total of 150,000 condoms, donated
by Durex, carrying the GI Jonny message about HIV will be handed out to the
The campaign will be supported by
programming across BBC television and radio channels: BBC One, BBC Two,
Radio 1, 1Xtra, Radio 2, 6 Music, and Asian Network.
■ In the early Eighties, the
government launched the “Don’t Die Of Ignorance” campaigns, one of the first
nation-wide campaigns in the world.
Twenty years and 25 million deaths
later, however, we are told that we are “losing the fight against AIDS” with
infections rising – particularly amongst three groups: the young, black
African communities, and heterosexuals – in fact the number of new
infections amongst straight people now outweighs those in the gay world.
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Licence.
Posted: 01 October 2007 at
15:00 (UK time)