‘Know Your Status’ for Pride

Publish Date: 25/08/2011

Manchester Pride sees the launch of the LGF’s new Gay Men’s Safer Sex Pack.  The packs have been protecting gay and bisexual men across Greater Manchester for the last 17 years.

For a lot of people reading this, you will not have known a time when condoms and lube weren’t freely available in bars and venues.  It is times such as Pride when we should remember why the safer sex message is still as important as it always was.

"We all come up with reasons why we might not use a condom, or might not get a sexual health and HIV test as often as we should.

The usual things, such as “I’m too busy”, “I’m probably ok” or “I’d know if something was wrong” all come into play.  And for the most part, this is probably true, but it is very important to remember that this is not ALWAYS true.

MOST Sexually Transmitted Infections will show symptoms of some kind for MOST people, but not ALL will show symptoms for ALL people.

No longer is it enough to use a condom and think that you will never need to go for a test, all Sexually Transmitted Infections can be transmitted via oral sex, some more easily than others.  If you are a man who has ever had sex with another man, then you should be aware of your HIV status.

If you have sex with a number of partners then you should be getting an HIV test at least annually or more often if you think you need to.  Other Sexually Transmitted Infections need testing for too.

In 2011 there really is no excuse to not test regularly – every infection can be treated, and although HIV cannot be cured, the treatments available these days are so effective in keeping the virus under control.  If you have HIV, getting tested for it won’t change anything, it will just put you in a much better place to be able to look after yourself.

One in ten gay and bisexual men in large cities has HIV, and approximately 25% of them are not aware of this. Whatever you do, you should try and make sure that you don’t become either one of these statistics. 

If you use condoms, carry on using them, and get tested regularly, if you think you have been at risk, get tested to make sure you are as healthy as you can be.

Protect your self - use condoms, get tested, know your HIV status – there really is no reason not to.

Condoms and lube still offer the best protection against HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections, but gay and bisexual men who are having sex with different partners should be getting a full sexual health screen, including a HIV test at least once every 12 months.

Early diagnosis of HIV is crucial. 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 were unaware that they were infected with the virus.
 
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.

If you receive a positive diagnosis, your HIV specialists will be able to work out when it is best for you to start treatment. Unfortunately, if this is left too late and if the immune system has been damaged over a number of years then HIV medications will not be as effective.”

Same Day HIV Testing

The Lesbian & Gay Foundation offers same day HIV testing, with the results available within 20-30 minutes of taking the test. The Rapid HIV Testing Clinic takes place every Thursday between 4 and 6pm (the last test available is at 5:30pm) @ The LGF, Number 5, Richmond Street, Manchester, M1 3HF.

For advice on testing, clinics and more call: 0845 3 30 30 30 or e-mail: peter.boyle@lgf.org.uk

The Lesbian & Gay Foundation would like to thank Manchester Pride and every single person who enjoys the festival every year who helps to ensure that we are able to continue to deliver this unique free Condom and Lube Scheme.