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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 January 2008, 15:59 GMT
Fighting against the HIV comeback
HIV Comeback Tour poster
The publicity posters have been nominated for an award
An innovative publicity campaign has dramatically increased the number of HIV tests being carried out in Lothian.

The HIV Comeback Tour was launched by NHS Lothian in 2006 amid concern that many people had become complacent about the risk posed by the virus.

Figures released on Thursday warned about a widespread ignorance in Scotland over many of the main transmission routes for HIV.

The three-year drive aims to raise awareness of HIV among gay and bisexual men, encourage regular testing and condom use.

It is estimated that 40% of gay or bisexual men in Lothian with HIV do not know they have the virus.

The campaign was promoted using 200 posters on Lothian buses, with a further 8,000 distributed through community venues, libraries and community centres alongside gay pubs and clubs.

The number of people attending the specialist GUM clinic provided by NHS Lothian for gay and bisexual men subsequently trebled in a year, while the total number of HIV tests conducted across Lothian for both gay and heterosexual people rose from 23,911 in 2006, to 29,407 in 2007.

We are pleased that we have seen an uptake in service use
Mike Massaro-Mallinson
NHS Lothian

The second phase, launched in November 2007, challenged the assumptions people can make when meeting new partners or while in relationships.

Mike Massaro-Mallinson, strategic lead for sexual health, NHS Lothian, said: "The key messages of the HIV Comeback Tour are that people should get tested for HIV and use condoms when having sex.

"We are pleased that we have seen an uptake in service use, as shown by the figures for attendance at the specialist GUM clinic for gay and bisexual men."

The publicity posters have been shortlisted for a prestigious PR award, run by Communicators in Business Scotland, for the best use of photography in a campaign.

NHS Lothian also funded a light show in December highlighting World Aids Day, projecting the iconic red ribbon onto Edinburgh's City Chambers to an audience of thousands.

Other organisations involved in the HIV Comeback Tour include Gay Men's Health, Healthy Gay Scotland, LGBT Youth, the Harm Reduction Team, Waverley Care and Positive Voice.

Warning over HIV 'ignorance' risk
17 Jan 08 |  Scotland
Sex health investment announced
16 Jan 08 |  South of Scotland
Record rise in Scottish HIV rates
01 Dec 06 |  Scotland
Complacency warning on Aids day
01 Dec 05 |  Scotland
Huge rise in sexual disease cases
24 Nov 05 |  Scotland
HIV figures reach record number
20 Oct 04 |  Scotland

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