The evaluation’s key findings included:
- The project improved people’s ability to live with HIV as a chronic condition. For most, reported self-satisfaction with their life increased markedly after accessing the services.
- Provision of information by the project was a key component in helping many to deal with their emotional challenges and accept their status, this being gained more through trust in others lived experience, rather than scientific or medical knowledge.
- Social support provided by the Recently Diagnosed workshop, the GayTalk group and social networking stopped participants from feeling “cut-off” and helped re-integrate them back into society.
- Project services helped those impacted by HIV stigma to normalize HIV and feel “it’s ok to be HIV positive”.
This report presents the findings of the evaluation of Positively UK’s Gay & Bisexual Men’s Project.
The project was set up to provide support to gay and bisexual men living with HIV, a group who are vulnerable to stigmatization, isolation and lower levels of wellbeing. The project goal was to empower service users to successfully transition to effective self-management and independent living with HIV.
The project, commencing in June 2015, provides a range of one to one and group support interventions, delivered through a Gay Men’s Project Co-ordinator and supported by a team of volunteer peer mentors.
The evaluation was carried out at the end of year two of the three-year project, after 250 men had been supported. It was informed by quantitative and qualitative data, including an online survey completed by over 100 project participants.
Although HIV was found to be the main entry point into the services, there were numerous support needs beyond HIV. Many participants expressed mental health, social and economic needs that were either exacerbated by HIV or affected their ability to live with the condition.