By Hilary White

LONDON, April 9, 2008 ( – The Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), an  organisation in the UK founded ostensibly to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, has set up a website giving graphic information and instruction to homosexual men interested in “extreme” sexual practices. The site, called “Hard Cell”, includes photos of male models involved in the various practices described, including “barebacking” – anal sex without condoms; “body mods” like branding, cutting and scarification; bondage and “breath control” or controlled strangulation.

The Terrence Higgins Trust is a registered British charity founded to provide information to stem the spread of AIDS, and “promote good sexual health” and is considered the UK’s leading HIV and AIDS charity, and the largest such charity in Europe.

The site’s graphics, with photos of men in strongly suggestive scenes, is designed to resemble popular homosexual pornographic websites. It gives information on how to conduct “hard sex” “safely” with a view to the various ways such practices can spread sexually transmitted diseases.

The section titled “Safer Drug Taking” also describes various techniques for using illegal drugs like methamphetamine (“crystal meth”), ecstasy, cocaine and heroin, giving advice on how to use the drugs with less risk of spreading disease. One section advises, “Syringes shouldn’t be shared – but if you do, cleaning them between each user means less risk.”

The group defended the site saying that research is showing that homosexual men have questions about specific sex-related acts, but do not know where to get reliable information. Will Nutland, Strategic Lead for Health Promotion and Health Improvement at THT, told media, “The website provides up-front information right through from bondage and branding to watersports.”

Recent figures show that the rates of HIV infection among active homosexual men in the UK are rising. The Health Protection Agency released its figures on March 28 showing that an estimated 6,840 new HIV diagnoses were reported in 2007 in the United Kingdom.

Over the past 12 months there has been no evidence of a fall in the current high rate of HIV transmission among gay men within the UK. 38 per cent of new diagnoses in 2007 were in this group.

The site works on the theory of “harm reduction”, adopted by most public health authorities and organisations, that assumes some people always have and always will engage in behaviours which carry risks, such as casual sex, prostitution, and drug use. Those people, the theory holds, should be helped to carry on with the activities “safely” and under some level of supervision.

Harm reduction is popular among progressivists who believe there is nothing to be gained from promoting chastity and self-restraint and who work to legalise drugs, prostitution and paedophilia. It was arguments based on the harm reduction theory that brought about the legalisation of abortion in most of the western world. Abortion advocates did and still do argue that legalisation made abortion “safe” for women. Harm reduction theories can even be found behind the rhetoric of the movement to legalise euthanasia and physician assisted suicide.

Harm reduction programmes in many parts of the world, normally publicly funded or run by tax-exempt organisations like THT, include the provision of condoms in public schools, needle exchange programs or “safer injection sites” for intravenous drug users and the legalisation of prostitution. The modern use of “sex-education” in schools is a massive harm-reduction programme that assumes young people cannot or will not practice the virtue of chastity and so must be instructed in schools how to use contraceptives and obtain abortions.

The same idea is behind the international efforts to combat HIV/AIDS in the developing world, where condoms are pushed in countries like Uganda. Organisations like the World Health Organisation that adhere to the harm reduction theory maintain that abstinence and chastity programmes should be downplayed on the grounds that the people of those countries are incapable of leading chaste lives.

Read related coverage:

Vancouver Mayor and MP Libby Davies Pushing for “Harm Reduction” for Crack and Prostitution

Report Says Vancouver “Safe Injection” Site a Failure

Kenya First Lady: Condom “is causing the spread of AIDS in this country.”