Gus Cairns is a freelance journalist specialising in HIV, sexuality, healthcare, development and related matters and a group facilitator and trainer on these issues. He is also a qualified psychotherapist and counsellor (see separate site). Gus is former Editor in Chief of Positive Nation, the UK’s HIV/AIDS and sexual health magazine. These varied skills have been pulled together to make the focus of a business. Its core aim over this range of activities will be to help other people and organisations survive and thrive. (full text on his personal website).
See: his Kilimanjaro diary.
He writes: A study of gay men with HIV who catch hepatitis C revealed sky-high levels of party drug use, unprotected sex, fisting and group sex among the men who get the virus, considerably higher than among men who don’t. After eliminating other causes for hep C transmission, researchers in three clinics in the United Kingdom found that unprotected group (rather than one-to-one) sex, unprotected anal sex and fisting were overwhelmingly more common in the men who caught hep C than a matched group of HIV-positive men who didn’t. (full text).
Gus Cairns – England
Read: What is psychotherapy?
In terms of group work, Gus has facilitated the Gay Men’s Support Group at London Lighthouse and the residential gay men’s weeks at Laurieston Hall in Scotland for the Edward Carpenter Community. In an individual capacity Gus has organised training on HIV/AIDS awareness, treatment information and counselling for various organisations including PACE; the Immune Development Trust; Coca Cola Africa; Boehringer Ingelheim; Roche, the Globe Centre, the Media Trust and the African HIV Policy Network. He has also worked for SHAG, a young people’s sexual health education group funded by City and East London Health Authority that provided safer-sex awareness workshops for East London schools and colleges … Last but by no means least, Gus has been living with HIV since 1985, and with an AIDS diagnosis since 1995. He sees himself as a long term survivor of HIV and says that one of his motivations in the work he does is to equip people both with the skills to avoid HIV and to thrive with it if they do become infected. (full text).
See also: his Zanzibar beach photos.
He writes also: … Zuzé is the new face of HIV here in the U.K., which has largely handled the disease admirably. One in 1,000 Brits is positive, compared with one in 330 in the U.S. This is due in part to the government’s early adoption of needle exchange. Only 7 percent of Brit HIVers got the virus by injecting drugs, compared with 25 percent in the States. The Brits’ bold, sexy and community-run info programs for gay men remain models for tackling HIV non-moralistically. And the U.K. is proud of its free, tax-funded National Health Service. This includes sexual-health clinics where you can drop in, give your name as Elvis Presley and get treated for STDs and HIV, no questions asked.
But the number of HIVers here has doubled in the past five years, to 60,000 in a country of 60 million. That’s the steepest climb in any rich country. Two-thirds of those new infections are among heterosexuals. Nine-tenths of those newly infected caught HIV outside the U.K., 80 percent of them in sub-Saharan Africa. A health-care system built in Victorian times to treat pox-ridden sailors returning from the colonies is buckling as immigrants from those former colonies—which have become the world’s HIV hot spots—turn up with AIDS.
This has panicked the government and enraged the conservative press, which seems to mesmerize Britain’s politicians … (full text).
Read: lazarus 1: born again.
On August 18-25 Positive Nation’s Editor in Chief, Gus Cairns, and Gay.com’s UK Managing Director, Mark Watson, are climbing Kilimanjaro to raise money for HIV/Aids. The duo are accompanied by PN’s former News editor Roger Goode. (full text). Community Voices: News and Views on AIDS Causality from AIDS Activists and Educators.
Read (4 excerpts of a long article): Older gay men — in the 35-50 age bracket — are at the highest risk of HIV and need particular support to avoid seroconversion, two New York prevention experts said … “Midlife gay men have lived most of their adult lives during the worst of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, experiencing the loss of partners, friends and people in their community,” they wrote. “By 1988, gay men had already on average lost six lovers, friends and/or family members. Researchers have shown that people who had more experiences of AIDS-related loss also had higher levels of traumatic stress response symptoms and recreational drug and sedative use. “However, almost no effort has been made to study the long-term impact of the AIDS epidemic on midlife gay men, or to determine whether current elevated levels of risk-taking behaviors in gay men are related to the trauma of surviving one of the worst epidemics in our history” … “Having survived the HIV pandemic, urban gay men in midlife may be particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of decimated social networks. Difficulty in making and sustaining relationships is a characteristic effect of traumatized people,” they said … “We’ve found that there are a number of men, apparently quite successful and sociable, who’ve arrived at middle age with a large number of acquaintances, and few, if any, close friends,” they replied. “Mid-life gay men often feel that their experience of the epidemic is ignored — and their struggles unappreciated”. (full long text).
Read: Presentations of the 12th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, April 2005.
In the UK since 2000 this steady increase has been disguised by a huge influx of new HIV infections among immigrants coming from Africa. From 2000-04 the majority of new diagnoses of HIV in the country were among people who’d actually acquired the virus abroad. The UK isn’t the only European country whose HIV-affected population has experienced a sudden increase and change due to African mobility but our position as the former colonial rulers of most of the world’s highest-prevalence countries (and especially Zimbabwe) has led to a unique more-than-doubling of HIV prevalence in a very short period of time. (full text).
Read: a summary of texts presented at the 14th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, February 2007 in Los Angeles.
Community Voices: News and Views on AIDS Causality from AIDS Activists and Educators;
Gus Cairns explores a recently reopened controversy;