That’s the theme of the latest CHAPS campaign, which takes a hard look beneath the surface at the situations and circumstances which can lead to gay men being infected with HIV. Five advertisements show different scenarios in which men have found out about their HIV status, and helps to explain the situations in which HIV is usually transmitted.

Will Nutland, Head of Gay Men’s Health Promotion said: “It’s quite common for gay men to talk about how they came out and their early sexual experiences, and this can be a useful learning experience for other people. However, it’s much less easy for gay men with HIV to talk about how they became infected, and this makes it much harder for men to hear real-life stories about how HIV is passed on or picked up. Through this campaign, we’re aiming to help illustrate the common, everyday situations in which HIV passes from one man to another.”

The campaign uses narratives from men who’ve become infected with HIV, showing what happened to them and what they did in the months before they were diagnosed. The scenarios include:

not using condoms in a relationship where neither man is sure of the other’s HIV status
believing that always being a “top” means you can’t become infected through unprotected anal sex
assuming that someone’s HIV infection will be obvious from their appearance or attitude
expecting that a man with HIV will tell his partners about his infection
a guy thinking he’ll never get HIV because he’s taken risks in the past and previously tested negative

The advertisements run in the gay press until July. They are backed up by a series of materials for use by outreach workers on the gay scene, along with the sixth edition of the highly acclaimed Exposed! magazine. Exposed! follows the sex lives of three men who put themselves at risk of HIV infection because of the assumptions they make during sex, and includes a wealth of information and advice on safer sex, plus details of support groups and sources of further information. It also includes a free to enter competition to win one of 25 copies of gay adult DVDs from greasedup.com.

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