The Lesbian & Gay Foundation (LGF) has taken final delivery of over 80,000 individual condoms and sachets of water based lube ahead of the charity’s preparations for Manchester Pride – to make sure that everyone attending the festival has access to free safer sex packs to encourage good sexual health.
This year, as well as providing the best possible defence against HIV and sexually transmitted infections, the LGF condom and lube packs also come with a reminder of the importance of regular testing for HIV.
In some areas of Greater Manchester, the late diagnosis rate of people with HIV is close to 50%. The reason that people present late with a HIV diagnosis, is often because they are unaware that they are infected with the virus
Peter Boyle, Sexual Health Co-ordinator at the Lesbian & Gay Foundation says: “The LGF’s Safer Sex Pack is arguably the most visible resource that we produce. For over 17 years they have been protecting gay and bisexual men across Greater Manchester. It is because of the high visibility of the scheme that we have decided to use it to promote HIV testing, and want to try and ensure that as many people as possible are aware of their HIV status.
The packs are to be launched at Manchester Pride 2011 – the message “Know Your HIV Status” will be highly visible throughout the four day event, and will continue to be visible in the months leading up to World Aids Day (December 1st).
It has never been more important to get tested; gay and bisexual men should be getting an HIV test at least once a year if they are sexually active. Hopefully when people see the message on each and every safer sex pack, they will think about when their last test was, and get tested if needs be.
Gay men’s safer sex packs have always contained 2 condoms and 2 sachets of water based lube, but now they also contain a reminder for men to get tested. Safer sex, plus regular testing is really the best way for men to look after their sexual health, especially when STIs are still on the rise amongst gay and bisexual men.”
One man who feels very strongly about this message is 28 year old Patrick Ettenes, who has shared his experiences of being diagnosed HIV positive and wants to help spread the message of how important it is for men who have sex with men to get tested for HIV, he says: “I think many guys find it difficult to go for regular HIV testing. They never think it will happen to them. By testing at least once every twelve months any infection by HIV will be relatively recent, and you stand the best chance of good long term health. Bite the bullet, and take responsibility for your life. Get tested, sort it out now!”.
For more on The Lesbian & Gay Foundation’s HIV prevention work & the Know Your Status – Get Tested! campaign, visit http://www.lgf.org.uk/testing