Author Topic: Anger at plans for NHS database of gay men  (Read 743 times)

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Offline Geoff Reid

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Anger at plans for NHS database of gay men
« on: May 24, 2007, 09:42:12 am »

Quote from:,,2086174,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=networkfront
Anger at plans for NHS database of gay men

John Carvel, social affairs editor
Wednesday May 23, 2007

An NHS database holding intimate information about the sexual behaviour of thousands of gay men is being planned by health trusts as part of a drive to encourage safer sex, a charity disclosed today.

The possibility that sensitive data could be accessed by computer hackers is causing anxiety across the gay community in London, where it will be launched later this year.

Gay men's health charity GMFA said primary care trusts across the capital are drawing up contracts for volunteers to approach men in gay bars and clubs to ask questions about their behaviour. The aim would be to identify "safe sex lapsers", who would be ranked according to risk.

Contracts for setting up a database to store information on up to 200,000 gay men in London went out to tender last week. The charity said it was told by NHS officials during a consultation on the proposals that trusts will use the database to send targeted advice that would be relevant to the personal experiences of the gay men who were interviewed.

A spokesman for London strategic health authority said the aim of the exercise was to monitor changes in gay men's behaviour so that trusts could adapt services accordingly. Interviewers would not routinely collect men's names and addresses.

"No one will be sent public health publicity to their homes. The way we collect data will be developed with the successful tenderer and patient confidentiality will be paramount," he added.

The GMFA said this assurance was not consistent with tender documents that included plans to register everyone living with HIV and "interrogate the database" to follow up clients who did not come forward for an assessment of needs. "This demonstrates that the database will store named records and contact details," the charity said.

Matthew Hodson, its head of programmes, said the NHS trusts' proposals were preposterous.

"A public consultation was held which vehemently opposed the plans, but that seems to have been ignored."

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