A new HIV prevention campaign aimed specifically at gay men in relationships has been launched by Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), as part of the Pan-London HIV Prevention Partnership (PLHPP). The poster campaign, which will appear in selected gay press, encourages men to consider if the sex they’re having with their partner is safe.

HIV prevention campaigns are rarely tailored for men in relationships, often focusing on the risks associated with casual sexual encounters, yet a significant number of HIV infections happen to men in a couple. This campaign reminds men of the two actions they can take to protect themselves and their boyfriend – carry on using condoms with each other or, if they want to ditch condoms, both test for HIV first. The idea is to get men talking about one of the most important aspects of their relationship: their sex life. The message to couples is a clear one: condoms remain the most effective way to protect against HIV and testing is the only sure way to know both your status and your partner’s. So before you have unprotected sex, why not talk first?

The poster campaign features two toothbrushes in a glass to symbolise a relationship and asks men to consider the question: “when you find a boyfriend, can you lose the condoms?” The ad goes on to say: “Use condoms unless you’ve both tested. And keep using them if you’re having risky sex with others.” The campaign addresses the fact that not all couples are monogamous and this is one way HIV can enter a relationship.

Alan Wardle, Head of Health Promotion for THT said: “We know that for some men in a relationship, condoms can be one of the first things to go. Why do you need them if you’re in a relationship? Yet the fact is, if you’ve not talked to your partner about their sexual history and yours before you ditch the condoms, you could be at risk. We know that some men may find it difficult to discuss their sex life with their partner, but if you don’t talk about it how will you know?”

The campaign will appear on ads in London gay press. They will also be seen on posters and postcards displayed in bars, saunas, GUM clinics and community centres and web banners on Gaydar.

The campaign has been funded by the Pan London HIV Prevention Partnership. Men can get information and advice by calling THT Direct on 0845 12 21 200 or visit www.tht.org.uk.

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