ŠKUC-Magnus is a Slovenian gay group active in the field of HIV prevention, positive prevention and support for gay men and other MSM. It was founded in 1984, Magnus is in fact older than the state of Slovenia (the state got its independency in 1991). Thanks to 30 years of prevention activities and campaigns (following quality standards of confidentiality, reliability and competence) we have contributed to a lower HIV prevalence rate in Slovenia that is still relatively low today.
Below follows an overview of our activities and initiatives in which we are involved:
- GALfon; info and help line was operating on daily basis from 19-22h. The majority of calls covered questions on HIV/AIDS and safer sex. Advisors were also promoting free and confidential HIV testing for MSM. This pioneer work has stopped with service by the end of 2007 after 12 years of serving the community. Nowadays more attention is on online prevention.
- Selfsupport group of HIV+ gay men; regular meetings with discussions, sport activities and internet forum (with nicknames) to share experience and give advices to newly infected.
- Film education programme; yearly gay and lesbian film festival since 1984 (one of the oldest in Europe) where we show movies with stories related to life with HIV or AIDS.
- Peers for peers; distribution of free safe sex kits at gay venues. We are setting up a network of key safe sex promoters in every town around the country, recruiting them in internet chat rooms.
- Networking; on both national, regional and EU level, sharing experiences and ideas, learning from/collaborating with other NGO's (Q Club and HIV-NeLP network, EATG, AIDES, DAH, Aids Hilfe Wien, GayRomeo) and participate in EU HIV Civil Society Forum.
- Practical training of volunteers; through self learning on the Internet, hosting workshops, and attending seminars organised by AIDS Action Europe, EATG or others, we are developing our working competencies.
- Research; participation in bio-behavioural researches among MSM such as Sialon I and II and EMIS the biggest online research among MSM in Europe,
- Planetromeo.com; virtual prevention with virtual role model for MSM, promoting sexual health, testing and regular check ups. This initiative was very well accepted among members from Slovenia.
- Campaigns; adds on the web, FB, in magazines and printed material about safer sex, STIs, testing, etc. Our latest is PrEP campaign together with EATG and other NGOs around Europe.
- Broshures: HIV guide, HIV and sex, HIV, emotional wellbeing and mental health. All tailor-made for MSM.
Apart from the above we also organise free vaccination against hepatitis B for gay men in collaboration with health authorities.
MSM in Slovenia are difficult to reach. There are not a lot of gay bars and clubs and many gay men are still in the closet. Hidden homophobia is present even if it is slightly decreasing. There is a big stigma on HIV+ MSM. Registration of same sex partnership is possible, but with limited rights. Our challenge for the future is to improve the quality of gay life and gay health with better infrastructure, to rise respect of human rights and equality for gay men and those living with HIV. Also applying Dublin declaration, we aim to go from activism to professionalism, assuring regular and sustainable funding and creating synergy between all involved in reaching a common goal to stop the epidemic.