Lockdown news … “Queer makeover” in retirement homes … HIV and Coronavirus


The guidance in England regarding meeting with others safely is changing from Monday 14 September 2020.

There are now national restrictions, local restrictions and specific restrictions.

Most boroughs of Greater Manchester (City of Manchester, Trafford, Bury, Tameside, Rochdale and Salford) are subject to local restrictions.

However, Stockport and Wigan are subject to the more generous national restrictions and Bolton and Oldham are subject to specific restrictions.

When Manchester is subject to the national restrictions we will be able to arrange meetings again.

Generally, you must not meet in a group of more than six, indoors or outdoors, but there are exceptions where groups can be larger than six people, including for work, and voluntary or charitable services.

Age UK Manchester have confirmed that, once local restrictions are eased, Out In The City fits under the exemption of a group that is “a voluntary or charitable service”. As long as the venue is Covid-19 secure, having undertaken a risk assessment, and the space is large enough to fully social distance, we can begin our meetings again.


Five retirement homes in Manchester to get “queer makeover” as part of project exploring LGBT+ visibility within older communities

A collection of artists will create work celebrating LGBT+ visibility in over-50’s at five retirement homes in Manchester (Image: Manchester Evening News)

A group of artists are partnering with older persons’ housing services across Greater Manchester in order to create work encouraging more inclusivity within sheltered housing and independent living schemes.

The Back In The Closet project by LGBT Foundation will see an artist work directly with staff and residents at a Manchester housing scheme to create an ‘artistic response’ to the experiences of residents.

Artists taking part in the residency include Trafford-based visual artist Jez Dolan, storyteller Lauren Sagar, filmmaker Anna Raczynski and visual artist Tamzin Forster.

Artists Rachel Anderson and Cis O’Boyle will also be involved as part of Idle Woman, a collaborative project focused on creating vibrant spaces for women through sculpture and performance.

“My practice as an artist is focused around queerness, identity and history, often through telling stories,” artist Jez Dolan explains of his involvement in the project.

Visual artist Jez Dolan is one of the artists to be taking part in the Back In The Closet project (Image: Jez Dolan)

“The Back in the Closet project has a real resonance with my ongoing work, and I’m really excited about the opportunity of sharing my practice with older LGBTQIA+ people living in residential settings.

As an older artist I’m looking forward to collaborating with communities of people and sharing our stories and shared histories, and looking at how we can make often unheard voices heard and appreciated.”

During September, each artist will spend a minimum of eight days remotely working with their partnered scheme.

Calico Homes, One Manchester, Trafford Housing Trust and Great Places Housing Group are all taking part in the project, which is in partnership with HouseProud and Great Places at Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

Cllr Brenda Warrington, Greater Manchester’s Lead for Age-Friendly and Equalities, said she hoped the project would lead to more ‘dignified and inclusive housing’ from housing associations.

“A survey in 2014 reported that two thirds of care home staff said there was not a single resident who was openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans where they worked,” Cllr Warrington said.

“We know this cannot be true and points to the fact that many older LGBT+ people feel uncomfortable and unable to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity.

We can learn a lot through this scheme and by using art, residents and staff will have the chance to be creative and I look forward to seeing the end results.”

Launched last year by Sir Ian McKellen, LGBT Foundation’s Pride in Ageing programme was set up after growing concerns that many LGBT+ people over the age of 50 are living in isolation and regularly face discrimination.

During Manchester Pride, drag artist Cheddar Gorgeous joined Pride in Ageing to host virtual LGBT History quizzes and make-up tutorials specifically for the over-50’s.

Lawrie Roberts, Pride in Ageing Manager at LGBT Foundation, said he hoped the Back In The Closet project would help Manchester’s older LGBT+ community feel heard.

“Pride in Ageing aims to make Greater Manchester one of the best places to grow older as a LGBT+ person, and ensuring that people feel safe and comfortable to be open about their sexual orientation or trans status in the housing scheme in which they live is a huge part of achieving this,” he added.

“We are incredibly excited to be working with a group of hugely talented artists from across the North West and a network of housing providers across Greater Manchester on these residencies, which though creative practise will open up new conversations around LGBT+ visibility in retirement schemes.”


NAM is a charity who share information about HIV & AIDS.

Two UK studies find that HIV infection may be a risk factor for dying from COVID-19.

Two studies relating COVID-19 mortality in the UK to HIV status have both concluded that having HIV raises the risk of dying from COVID-19, after adjusting for age and some other factors.

The first (Bhaskaran) is a population survey of mortality risks, which relates death from COVID-19, as listed on death certificates, to HIV status recorded in National Health Service (NHS) primary care records.

The other (Geretti) is a prospective cohort study of mortality in patients who have been hospitalised due to COVID-19 and compares mortality in patients with and without HIV.

The first study finds that, since 1 February and up to 22 June, people with HIV had a 130% raised risk (i.e. 2.3 times the risk) of dying from COVID-19 compared with the general population (a risk similar to that seen in a recent study in South Africa’s Western Cape province, presented at AIDS 2020: Virtual in July).

The second study finds a 63% raised risk of dying of COVID-19 among the HIV-positive members in its database of hospitalised patients, once age and state of health on admission are taken into account. The database consists of the UK patient data from ISARIC, an international research consortium. It covers a slightly different time frame to the first study; from 18 January, when COVID-19 PCR testing first became available to UK hospitals, to 18 June.

Both studies face the problem that in the UK, where HIV is a lot rarer than in South Africa, they are working with small numbers of COVID-19 deaths in people with HIV. The first study found only 25 people whose HIV status was recorded in GP records and whose death certificates recorded death from COVID-19. The second study found 115 people hospitalised for COVID-19 who were recorded as having HIV, and virtually the same number of deaths, 26. Many but not all of these will be the same people. These small numbers make it very hard to show that their results are statistically significant and not just due to chance, and can lead to different results.

For instance, the first study found that the raised risk of death in people with HIV seemed even larger in people who self-described as Black, as opposed to any other ethnicity; the second did not find this association.

Interestingly, the first study found that, although this was not statistically significant owing to the low numbers, the higher risk of death was most evident during the first 60 days of the pandemic. The authors speculate that this may reflect less social distancing and/or greater vulnerability to infection during the early weeks, before people with HIV were advised to shield. Beyond day 90 of the pandemic (from 2 May) the increased risk due to HIV was no longer apparent.

The findings of both studies have been published as pre-print articles, which means they have not yet been peer-reviewed. In a statement issued in response to the studies, the British HIV Association (BHIVA) and allied organisations urge that the findings should be interpreted with caution, especially as due to limited figures and under-recording, the influence of other risk factors for COVID-19 mortality could be under-estimated.

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