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Misleading AIDS leaflets

1989

The following article from '', April 1989 highlights the anti-gay prejudice and misinformation around / in the late 1980s, even from statutory bodies such as .


WARNING : These leaflets may damage your health

Two leaflets about AIDS have recently appeared, both funded by the Birmingham City Council, which are causing great concern.
One leaflet, produced by the Candel Trust in Handsworth, was funded by the City's Economic Development Unit as well as the West Midlands Regional Health Authority and Handsworth Task Force. Peter Kirby from Lesbian & Gay said, "In this leaflet there are moralistic statements which will set back the work done in preventing the spread of AIDS and will increase antiógay prejudice. One section of the leaflet states, 'If you are homosexual, then seek advice from your doctor, or one of the Aids Helplines'. What for? Not all gay people are HIV+. The gay community has shown the way forward in AIDS awareness, but in some people's eyes there is still the notion of 'The Gay Plague'. Responsible AIDS prevention work should challenge that notion not reóenforce it."




The other leaflet ''Preventing AIDS Your Responsibility" was published by the City's Environmental Services Department and has caused outrage in health education and trade union circles. The leaflet's author/s claim that the best place for AIDS education is within the family, there is virtual no mention of safer sex and there are many medical inaccuracies and misinformation. which has its telephones provided by the council, was quick to distance itself from the leaflet. Their administrator, said, "There was no consultation with us over the content of the leaflet, which seriously threatens AIDS Education work in Birmingham. We operate from a position of acceptance, we do not try to impose values or morals on our clients". Frank Boulton from the trade union NALGO said, "Whenever a moralising or religious approach to prevention is implemented, it has failed to produce worthwhile results". , in an emergency meeting, voted unanimously for a boycott of the leaflet and also called for the resignation of the Medical Officer for Environmental Health, Dr Surinder Bakhshi. Dr Bakhshi, who helped initiate the leaflet has offended many AIDS prevention workers, both professional and voluntary, with his prejudiced antiógay views.
emphasised that "These dangerous and incompetent leaflets will do more harm than good, because they contain medical inaccuracies and are based on values which have no place in Health Education." Peter Kirby said that he had written to the heads of the Council Departments responsible for the leaflets and the City's AIDS Liaison Officer for an explanation. He also said, "If anyone sees the leaflets on display then they should raise the matter or take direct action and remove these offensive leaflets".

Contributed by: In The Pink, 21

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