Our Commitment – Positive Moving On

The rapidly changing needs of society mean that a thorough renewal process for the aims of Positive Moving On exists to ensure maximum impact for the benefit of our community. Over the last number of months our vision has been assessed and amended to fit the framework of HIV in 2017. Please click on the link below to read our commitment which outlines the priorities of Positive Moving On.

 

Our commitment – Positive Moving On

“Let’s leave the 80s journalism where it belongs”

(Sent via email to Pink News by Andrew Goyvaerts)

To Whom it may concern,
Society talks about sensationalist journalism all the time, what it doesn’t talk about nearly enough is what happens when the topic at hand is something that will impact on an individual or community. While it might help along the career of a want-to-be Ann Leslie or Jeremy Paxman the industry must ask if it is principled to do so, even if editors view it as ethical.

Sensationalist journalism caught my eye again today when an article by Pink News led with “what is bareback sex and why is it dangerous” 

Let it be pointed out that the general theme has truth, bareback sex carries risk and information of those risks should undoubtedly be passed on to the public, however, let it also be pointed out that abstinence from bareback sex for many of those who are interested in it does not always work out meaning countless people who have read this article could suffer untold effects to their sex life along with their mental health given the concerns it has possibly raised for them, just one reason why directing to organisations that can help anyone effected by media content is beneficial and should be mandatory.
It might be possible to oversee this as something other than blatant sensationalism if the article came across as properly balanced or of educational benefit but that is not the case, instead it came across as a 1980s piece the only purpose of which was to breed fear and perpetuate stigma surrounding sex and STIs due to key bits of information being left out, like if someone living with HIV has an undetectable viral load they cannot pass on the virus to others during unprotected sex.

It also failed to mention vaccines that are available for sexually transmitted infections like hepatitis and HPV (although they were only referred to minutely while the broad context centred around HIV). 
At the same time it appears to have completely ignored the fact that even condoms are not effective 100% of the time. Credit can be given for mentioning PEP and PrEP but is that really enough? Have people living with HIV who were used as an example for an article that essentially seeks to raise site visits for Pink News truly benefited from its publication? 
Inevitably a small number will say “what harm if it prevents someone from being diagnosed with an STI” yet the problem with that reasoning is it throws millions of us who are living with such an infection under the proverbial bus. 

We deal with enough sensationalising from irrational individuals who still think HIV can be transmitted from kissing, we do not need a national publication sensationalising with them. 
Evidently it can surely be said no writer of such an article would intend to cause harm to actual lives which is why the time has come for the journalism community to really evaluate its purpose, does it exist to help or hinder society? Given the social angle of Pink News it would be implorable to do so. 
Let’s leave the 80s journalism and sensationalised stories where they belong and focus on all the up to date information that will educate people not make them afraid. They say fear comes from the unknown but much more of it and harm can come from sensationalised writing along with a lack of all the facts.

An open letter to/about denialists

   By Andrew Goyvaerts 

         

 @PMovingOnCICCEO

Lately all one comes by online, in particular social media, are stories from vaccine denialists. This is not a new trend with everything from HIV, to chemotherapy and the holocaust being subject of theories. When non deniers point out the impact of harm such theories can cause the rebuttal is “we have a right to question” well yes this is very true, everyone has the right to, and should, question things in life however, questioning is not what denialists are doing.
In most cases they are categorically stating their version of events are correct, that the other side is totally incorrect while concocting some cover up or another and completely ignoring facts. 

Scores of people who are living with HIV or contracted an illnesses long eradicated from general society through vaccination, listened to these ignorant views, so deviously constructed and cruelly aired, those people paid for it with their lives or that of their children. 
Does this fact not resonate at all? Is their any part within a denialist that imagines their child, niece, nephew, brother, sister or parent to be one those people who have died because of such untruths?

The answer to those questions we will never know, what we do know for sure is that numerous people have stated denialist theories as reason for failing to seek medical treatment, a lack of which has resulted in serious harm or death. Sure their are those who can say they have followed such theories only to live healthily, lucky them that they were not one of the many more who paid a very costly price. 
Realistically, in the era of technology society is experiencing it will never fully rid itself of stories like one shouldn’t vaccinate or take a certain medication due to mostly unfounded, outlandish claims but it can do a lot more to counteract and target them. 

To begin government should take it far more seriously, in the UKs case it is ultimately the government that will pay the price of an unhealthy person, health boards and trusts along with the uber rich pharmaceutical companies should conduct awareness campaigns to dispel myths that stem from denialism. Individually, people should be conscious of denialist theories in the hope that they do not fall prey in future, while these theories might not effect someone today they very well could tomorrow.
Finally if you are a denialist please realise the anguish you cause by targeting vulnerable people with unfounded or untruthful claims in what can only be described as a despicable act of selfishness. 

“Political system in Northern Ireland turns into a mix of Groundhog Day and Fossetts Circus”

Another deadline comes, another deadline goes and still Northern Ireland sits in limbo. In 1994 after years of conflict that led to more than 3,500 deaths with thousands more injured, the troubles of Northern Ireland came to an end. Paramilitary organisations put down their guns to herald in a new era of peace and reconciliation one where democracy instead of bombs ruled politics. In 1998 the Good Friday agreement was signed paving the way to a power sharing executive in Northern Ireland and with it came a new definition of democracy for the region.
Part of the sharing agreement meant that the largest nationalist and unionist parties would have to share power with the added power of being able to bring down the power sharing executive at a moments notice. This happened in January after a botched energy scheme was exposed and current First Minister (Arlene Foster), who launched the scheme, refused to step aside while an enquiry took place, this in turn led Sinn Fein to pull the plug before a budget had been put in place meaning services have been crippled.
On September 4th James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland was quoted in one newspaper as saying the window for negotiation talks was “closing rapidly” but two months later that rapidness has turned into snails pace with the electorate left both frustrated and bemused as the political system in Northern Ireland turns into a mix of Groundhog Day and Fossetts Circus.
When will it end is the question on most minds, what the hell am I going to do is clearly the question on James Brokenshire’ mind. Were this to happen in Westminster or Holyrood a speedy conclusion would be inevitable or be front page news across the country and the world. In Northern Ireland though it barely makes the bottom right column of page twenty, unless Bill Clinton flies in for a few hours yet as much as a spectacle as this is for Stormont it is compared to the embarrassment it places at the doors of Westminster, why is that?
Well Theresa May has broken records saying “strong and stable government” while appointing an indecisive, weak individual to watch over one of the most unstable territories on her books.

If it is not a sign of a weak and unstable government, it is a sign of a government that has too much on its hands to cope with Northern Ireland, is it any wonder if this is the case that Sinn Fein see reason to call a referendum?
Wether or not such referendum would be successful is another question but if Westminster can’t handle the workload people will only naturally wonder if there are other options. For now though let’s just wait for the clown car to pull up with two ladies in it.

What next for NI’ drug crisis

Yesterday Positive Moving On published a report based on twelve months of investigating the current drug crisis in Northern Ireland. Using data available to the public along with talking to drug users and those currently experiencing addiction we found a troubling picture in NI where people are waiting far beyond what they should for treatment and a notable discrepancy between services base on trust area and have been notified that waiting times also vary severely depending on trust with drug users in Belfast waiting up to two years for a prescription that can be obtained by Lisburn residents in a matter of 2/3 months maximum.

Attached is some of what we found out over the last year along with suggestions on how we view the situation should be. They may not be agreeable to all or indeed seem realistic given the lack of finance available as well as a broken government, however, they are a start and no matter what approach is taken next it requires fresh thinking and ideas which will inevitably cost money which will have to be found from somewhere, perhaps it could be paid for out of the £1bn acquired during the conservative deal.

 

 

TOLERANCE POLICY

Check it out check it out 

In keeping with announcing our new structure later this November (don’t worry this will in no way effect current strategies and directives), we have launched our new look website and logo. When brainstorming earlier in the year one of the biggest buzzwords was “vibrancy” both for the look of positivemovingon.com and our work. With splashes of purple and blue the former has hopefully been achieved, as for the latter, you can tell us in time.
Take a look at the site and don’t forget to follow our blog where you can generally read the ramblings of Andrew also if you have any HIV related questions you would like answered in an article on the site feel free to send them in, if you wish this can be done anonymously or under a pseudonym via our contact page, in any event we will not print your name with the article. 
I’ll love you all and leave you to it. 

Let’s talk about abusive threats within the sexual health sector.

By Andrew Goyvaerts 

@PMovingOnCICCEO
Fear, a common feeling that connects us not just as humans but as simple beings on earth, from cats to our parents it is something we have all felt at one point or another. The only time fear becomes uncommon and unacceptable is when it is unreasonable. 

Fear of HIV has been so deeply ingrained in some people that they do not want to believe viral suppression means PLWHIV cannot pass it on. 

I experienced this once again today when I was called a liar and told to “shut up or get fucked up” (he did not mean fucked up in a good way). This was in between explicits and being told I am dirty.
Now some people might say it is perfectly rational to fear a virus like HIV, in fact for those born after 1982 it has been considered educational to enlist fear of HIV, those people are correct to a certain degree. While it is a manageable condition I would prefer not to have it just as I would prefer not to have epilepsy or the migraine being nursed at this particular moment but it is irrational to fear those who are living with it irregardless of viral suppression and even more irrational to fear scientific fact that updates education from the 80s to say those who have achieved viral suppression literally cannot pass HIV on to others. 
What strikes one as a common denominator with these unbelievers that would lead to the conclusion of their verbal attacks and threats being based on fear is their unwillingness to debate. 

When UequalsU first took stage people did not join the conversation saying, your point of view is wrong and I’m going to kick the head off you for having it, they joined the conversation with scientific evidence, laid it out and debated its merits. If someone from the unbelievers wished to do the same it would be more than okay, however this inclination to abuse and threaten is not okay or something anyone deserves to be subject to. Beyond it not being okay, it lacks education, merit and any comment from me further than saying that it does not matter if you are afraid, to verbally attack and threaten someone purely because their factual opinion differs from yours is to be among the most despicable forms of a human being. 
A subsequent conversation lead me to think more about something I was already aware of, this is not just happening to me and it does not seem to happen in many other areas of health apart from HIV and sexual reproductive health. Given that, I do not want this post to just become a condemnation of such barbaric acts but instead to become an acknowledgment within our community that even in 2017 the threats are still there because I fear that if we hesitate to acknowledge it we are left more perceptible to such threats and perhaps even action. Also I want any of my fellow advocates to know that I am here for you should such a situation arise to talk or provide support for if any threat is too close to home it can be of great concern to a person and I hate the thought of anyone going through this without the support I am lucky enough to have. 
Stay safe all and just remember, we are not the ones who are reduced to threatening physical violence because or opinion lacks educational fact, how empty life must feel for them. 

Why are we waiting 

By Andrew Goyvaerts 

@PMovingOnCICCEO

The clock is ticking down to another year nearly over and with it as little answers on an introduction of PrEP in Northern Ireland and many areas across Europe including Ireland, as there have been about Trump and the Russians.
Having long surpassed the point of consideration we should now be at the point of answers and action, however the sound of silence reverberates through the corridors of the HSC and DoH. 

While budgets, boilers and a broken Stormont create havoc among public sectors with deadline after deadline to restore a functional executive having come and gone (Oxford plan to change the definition of deadline soon), matters on the ground are suffering beyond measure. There must come a point when coordination along with cooperation of some sort happens in order to pass a budget which will enable action on matters that have become totally stagnant during this entire debacle. 
Northern Ireland recorded a dramatic increase in HIV diagnoses over the last number of years and it is highly likely this year will see a further increase, it will only be with thanks to current treatment and the success of viral suppression meaning those diagnosed who’s viral loads are undetectable cannot pass on the virus, as well as the current protection available in the form of PEP along with condoms, if there is not a further rise in. 

The inaction of our institutions over the course of 2017 to function as they should is a mounting disgrace as each day passes.
Stormont has been hanging over a cliff and as usual it’s the ordinary citizens who are paying the price with job losses, rising homelessness as well as public services being seen as nothing more than collateral damage in a game of chicken. During this time social considerations have increased with a rise in people living and dying on the street along with a steep rise in people using drugs in particular intravenous drugs.
The time for talking on the hill is done, it’s time for action from someone wether that is Mr. Brokenshire or the two lady’s of the estate. In the words of a brand that shall not be named for fear of copyright “just do it”

UequalsU hits the road…

So a while ago after spending the day brainstorming new ways of generating publicity for UequalsU during 2018 I set off on a trip home to Cork from Belfast, during this journey I sarcastically thought how much quicker and probably easier it would be if I could just walk there instead of waiting on train connections and the regular breakdowns of Iarneod Eireann (in truth IrishRail is actually a really good service, as I say I was sarcastically thinking). 
Long story short, the adventurist within me met the activist on that journey and after a lot of consideration, investigation and conversation with fitness instructors, doctors and family I am delighted to announce that I will be undertaking a solo sponsored walk from Belfast to Dublin in July 2018 on behalf of Positive Moving On to raise awareness of the UequalsU message and HIV stigma. 

Nearly 300 miles on foot with just 14 days it will be a challenge but what is life without one, at times I think it’s impossible but then they said that in the 80s about treating HIV and just look where we are today, also I have no doubt of meeting some amazing people along the way leading to amazing memories which will spur me on my route. 

I will be releasing my route map in January which will detail my departure date, time and place as well as all stop offs along the route. Hope to see you at one xx