Naz Project London Offers Sexual Health Education And Treatment For Ethnic Minorities

Anyone living outside of their home country faces a series of challenges they must overcome – this being even more so the case for immigrants of ethnic and social minorities. It was for this specific target audience that the Naz Project London was set up – the longest running institution offering free sexual health and HIV/AIDS advice and support for Black and Minority Ethic (BME) Communities in the UK.

The Naz Project was created in 1991 and is divided into several projects according to the ethnic origin of its clients – as Naz refers to the people who benefit from its services. There is a dedicated service for Muslims; another for Asian men; one for people of African origin; Naz Latin, for Spanish speakers and, finally, Naz Vidas, a service for Portuguese-speakers, including the ‘Portu-Gays’ support group for homosexuals.

José Resinente, the client support manager at Naz Vidas, says that dividing the services along ethnic and cultural lines is a way of facilitating communication and adapting sexual health education to different cultures. “We don’t look at people as Latinos, blacks, Asians, HIV-positive or negative, homosexual or straight, legal or illegal immigrants, but as human beings who need support and information and medical care,” he explains.

One of the things Naz Project/Naz Vidas do is to offer support to people with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including medical advice and treatment in conjunction with psychologists and hospitals, and, if necessary, with the assistance of interpreters. They’re also active in raising awareness of STD prevention through campaigns, talks, community outreach and local training programmes, and handing out information leaflets and free condoms.

Around 150 Portuguese-speaking people benefit from the services offered by Naz Vidas, the majority of whom are Brasilian. They meet monthly for group psychotherapy sessions, as well as having individual sessions available to them.

The ‘Portu-Gays’ group has more than 60 participants, who meet regularly to discuss all kinds of things including STDs and discrimination, amid other issues.

Naz offers free HIV testing with the results produced in 30 minutes. In the last three months, NAZ has tested 50 people, 30 of which were Brasilians. According to the NHS (Britain’s National Health Service), some 30% of people in the UK living with HIV don’t yet even know they have the virus.

José points out that the sooner a person knows their HIV status, the better their chances of improving their quality of life and life expectancy; “10 years ago, a person with HIV had a life expectancy of just 10 years. But today, the life expectancy for someone who is HIV positive is the same as for a person who is negative”, José explains. “That’s because medical science has developed treatments which now allow people to lead a totally normal life.”

What Naz Does And How You Can Help

Naz is an abbreviation of Nazin, the name of an HIV positive Indian man whose community rallied to his support after his diagnosis. The Naz Project was born to offer the same sort of support that Nazin had, to those in a similar situation. Since then the project has relied upon the efforts of volunteers to continue its activities.

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If you are interested in getting involved, simply call Kim Hawkins on 020 8741 1879, or email her on kim@naz.org.uk.

You don’t need any specific qualifications – just being good at communicating and willing to help is enough.

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