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CHECK West #1

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COMMUNITY Foto: Tim Mossholder_unsplash.com DIVERSITY, NOT SIMPLICITY The many goals of the AIDS-Hilfe Trier AIDS-Hilfe Trier has existed since 1985. At that time, concrete support for people with HIV and their relatives was the most important part of the work. Fortunately, things are different today, as HIV is now easily treatable and AIDS cases can be prevented if diagnosed in good time. CHECK spoke to Bernd Geller, head of the prevention department, about the organization's past and current tasks. Hello Mr. Geller. Tell us something about the history and work of the AH Trier. The first AIDS cases occurred in Germany in the early 1980s. As a result, AIDS organizations were founded in many cities in those years. One must not forget that HIV was not really treatable during this time. There was also little knowledge about the infection, its transmission and effective protection options, both in the general public and in the community. But there was a lot of prejudice about people with HIV and supposed "risk groups". Back then, anonymous and unbiased advice was also a “brand core” of AIDS-Hilfe. It has remained so to this day. Prevention, i.e. factual information about the current state of knowledge, was an important pillar of our work then as it is now. Excessive fears and thus HIV-related stigmatization and discrimination can only be reduced through 10 CHECK WEST #1

COMMUNITY Interview: Torsten Schwick ENGLISH well-founded knowledge. And without reducing discrimination, it is also not possible to reduce the number of new infections or to keep them stable at a low level and to reduce the number of infections that have not yet been diagnosed. How has the offer of the AH Trier changed over the years? There have been rapid developments in the HIV area over the past four decades: infection is now easily treatable, people with HIV are no longer infectious with successful therapy and, in addition to condoms and “protection through therapy”, there is a third variant of safer sex today through PrEP, i.e. HIV protection by taking medication. Of course, all of this has an impact on our work. The prevention messages in particular are becoming more diverse, but also more complicated as a result. With the continuously improved treatability of HIV, the need for lowthreshold, community-oriented, and sex-positive testing and test counseling offers has increased. Thanks to appropriate awareness campaigns and the increasing importance of drug protection strategies that “only” protect against HIV, other sexually transmitted infections have also gained in importance. In our sex education workshops in schools we talk almost more about chlamydia, HPV and hepatitis than about HIV & AIDS. For two years, AIDS-Hilfe Trier has also supported ara, the Trier-based specialist advice center for sex workers. Since we originally come from a self-help background, close cooperation with the Berufsverband für erotische und sexuelle Dienstleistungen (Professional association for erotic and sexual services) is important to us. Conceptually, our work is now more than ever anchored in the commitment to holistic sexual health as well as to sexual and reproductive (human) rights. Unfortunately, one can also observe a tendency where the general validity of these rights is being increasingly questioned in this country. That is why we are involved in the Trierer Aktionsbündnis „Vielfalt statt Einfalt“ gegen Rechtspopulismus und für sexuelle Bildung und Rechte (Trier action alliance “Diversity instead of simplicity” against right-wing populism and for sexual education and rights.) What are the current priorities in your work? The corona pandemic has also impacted the work of AIDS-Hilfe Trier. The prohibitions in the “prostitution trade” and the resulting loss of income for sex workers have pushed our „Our work is anchored in the commitment to holistic sexual advisors from ara to health as well as to sexual and the limit of their capacities (and sometimes reproductive (human) rights.“ beyond) over a long period of time. With the regional health departments busy tracking down contacts, they had little time to test for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. In the last few months we have therefore hardly been able to keep up with answering questions about test options. We no longer advertise our own test offers, which we offer once a quarter in cooperation with the health department in the Queeren Zentrum, because the available places are already booked weeks in advance. The request for accompanied HIV self-tests has also increased in our country. With a new offer that allows us to carry out rapid HIV, hepatitis C and later syphilis tests without doctors, we want to close another gap in the range of tests. In addition, our prevention team is currently visiting schools more than ever before. This is because many planned workshops were canceled during the months of school closings and can now finally be rescheduled. And this September there will also be a "presence pride" in Trier, where we will of course also present ourselves as contact persons for LGBTIQ*. (ts,mb) CHECK WEST #1 11

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blu, hinnerk, gab, rik, Leo – die Magazine der blu Mediengruppe erscheinen monatlich in den Metropolen Deutschlands. Die nationale Reichweite der Magazine ermöglicht den reisefreudigen Lesern Zugriff auf alle Informationen immer und überall. Themenschwerpunkte sind neben der regionalen queeren Szene, Kultur, Wellness, Design, Mode und Reise. Unsere Titel sind mit der lokalen Community jahrzehntelang gewachsen und eng verbunden, was durch Medienpartnerschaften mit den CSD-Paraden in Hamburg, Berlin, München und Frankfurt sowie zahlreiche Kooperationen, wie der Christmas Avenue in Köln, seinen Ausdruck findet.