South Asian men who have sex with men (SA MSM) are one of the most overlooked groups when it comes to HIV prevention, which is reflected in NAZ seeing a year-on-year increase in SA MSM looking for HIV support. A complex web of cultural, religious and societal issues within SA MSM communities hamper their access to — and willingness to engage with — appropriate mental and sexual health support. As a result, alongside their increased risk of contracting HIV, South Asian MSM also report lower levels of self esteem and mental wellbeing.

London has recently seen a steep drop in HIV diagnoses in white MSM, but this has not been observed in SA MSM, who as a group have much lower sexual health literacy and engagement than other MSM groups. There are also many specific cultural, religious and societal issues which affect SA MSM and their access to appropriate support around their identities and their sexual health.

Sholay Love is a twelve month project funded by the Public Health Innovation Fund targeting South Asian (SA) men who have sex with men (MSM) to raise awareness on HIV and STIs and encourage testing. The programme will be delivered in London, Leeds and Bradford and is a partnership with Yorkshire MESMAC and Barts Health NHS Trust for this project. Sholay Love hopes to challenge this and empower SA MSM by developing:

  • An online and community based poster campaign challenging community stigma and taboos around SA MSM’s love and sex lives;
  • Culturally appropriate sexual health information in a variety of South Asian community languages;
  • Video blogs, exploring issues such as stereotypes, coming out, safer sex and app use in more depth with other SA MSM and other community partners; and
  • An advice and advocacy, counselling and support group for SA MSM.

Sholay Love works with South Asian Gay, Bisexual and Men who have Sex with Men (SA MSM), and is funded by the Public Health England Innovation Fund. We are looking for people who are interested in helping us spread the message, to help us challenge these taboos and to help increased the sexual health and wellbeing of our community as a whole.

Please get involved. You can help in several ways:

  • Advertising spaces, both online and physically, in magazines or posters in your area, showing our campaign imagery, which utilises familiar Bollywood imagery but for the first time focusing on SA MSM.
  • Contributing to and sharing our message widely on social media.
  • Supporting our video content, either as a partner or community member with something to say about the challenges faced in the lives of SA MSM.
  • Fundraising with us, to help us project our message into some of London’s most densely populated South Asian areas through billboards, to help us project our message into the hearts of SA communities and challenge taboos.
  • Helping us hold events for your communities, where we can come and raise awareness and offer HIV testing to SA MSM, or to challenge stigmas and raise awareness in the wider SA population.
  • Referring SA MSM in need of social support to our DOSTI group, helping them access advice, advocacy, peer support and safe social spaces.
  • Volunteering with us at the NAZ project to speak to SA MSM online and in person, and help them access testing and support on the ground.

To learn more, how to get involved or refer someone contact Aaron Chady: [email protected]


Thursday 27th September 2018 6-9pm
Thursday 25th October 2018 6-9pm
Thursday 29th November 2018 6-9pm
Thursday 20th December 2018 6-9pm

[email protected]
Text/Whatsapp: 07590 712 758

About the artist for Sholay Love

Adding to the unique hurdles to sexual health is a distinct lack of visible role models, the result of which is a commonly-reported struggle with identity, sexual exploration and acceptance. Sholay Love aims to tackle this by using Bollywood imagery to capture the imaginations of South Asian MSM through a familiar theme. The campaign places South Asian lovers centre stage, portraying their love as beautiful, passionate, something to be celebrated, rather than something to be hidden, feared or disregarded.

The artwork for the Sholay Love campaign has been created by Karun Soni, a London-based British Asian artist whose art agitates for change on issues such as sexism, homophobia, racism, domestic violence and mental health in the South East Asian community:

“My art challenges particular views in India on issues such as women's rights, domestic violence and the caste system, and the purpose of my art is to challenge views that are immoral and unjust but that survive today in our culture. I am incredibly excited about Sholay Love because it is designed especially for us, and so the artwork calls upon an image of ourselves we may have in our heads and hearts but may have trouble displaying out in the open.”

Karun Soni is an established painter living in London with 9 years professional painting experience for private clients and businesses. Amongst various projects and commissions, Karun Soni’s art stands for change in issues such as sexism, homophobia, racism, domestic violence and attitude to mental health in the South East Asian community.