Hiv – from the bottom to the top

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New campaign highlights HIV risks to Black men who ‘top’ without condoms.

Big Up, the Black gay men’s project at GMFA, is launching a new advertising campaign focussing on the risk of HIV for Black gay men who are insertive during unprotected anal sex. The campaign follows research showing Black gay men are less likely to use condoms when they are the ‘top’ than guys from other ethnic groups.

“It’s more risky being the receptive partner during anal sex without condoms,” said Jaime Sylla, Project Manager for Big Up “but that doesn’t mean tops aren’t at risk. Black guys more commonly think that being a top protects them. The truth is, lots of guys get HIV while being insertive without condoms. It’s worth reminding guys of the risks of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections too.”

Gay men use a variety of approaches to minimise the risk of HIV but sometimes we don’t have all the facts. That’s why the Big Up group decided to dispel the myth that being a top during unprotected anal sex can protect you. Data from the Gay Men Sex Survey 2006 showed that 55.3% of black gay men had engaged in unprotected anal sex. Compared to the ethnic majority, black men were 2.76 times as likely to have IUAI with men they knew to be positive .

The campaign is sexy without being crude. It features two Black guys getting down to action, with the headline ‘HIV – From the Bottom to the Top’. The graphic elements clearly establish the route of transmission.

“Using condoms can prevent the transmission of HIV from the top to the bottom or from the bottom to the top,” said Matthew Hodson, Head of programmes for GMFA. “Both partners should be able to take the responsibility to protect themselves or their partners.”

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