Chances are you are likely to come into contact with a Sexually Transmitted Infection within your lifetime. Gay and Bisexual men are disproportionately affected by many STIs including
- Hepatitis B
In the age of Gaydar, Grindr and Squirt, sex is freely available between consenting partners. Sex can be liberating and as a sex positive organisation The Rainbow Project encourages people to talk openly about sex and sexual health. However in Northern Ireland we are seeing a massive increase in many STIs – particularly in men who have sex with men. The Don’t Leave it to chance campaign is a public awareness campaign to increase Gay and Bisexual men’s awareness of the exponential rise in Gonorrhoea, HIV and Syphilis. Sexual Health is about ensuring that each and everytime you have a partner that you protect yourself. You can do this by the following steps
Wear a condom and use water or silicon based lubricant
- The right sized condom is important – condoms work on length and girth. You can avail of free condoms direct to your address here.
- Using water or silicon based lubricant can help make it more comfortable sex and also will stop the condom from tearing or falling off
Test at least once a year or if you are changing partners regularly then once every three months
- We know guys like to have a lot of sex. There is no problem with this as long as it is negotiated. Some guys don’t use protection which may put you at risk. Don’t leave it to chance!
- You can test at numerous places. To find your local GUM clinic click here. You can also book a rapid HIV and Syphilis test at The Rainbow Project – simply call 028 90319030 to book an appointment now. To find out when our Ballymena Clinics are running
- If you feel you have any symptoms of an STI it is important to immediately get tested and treated. Most STIs can be treated with using antibiotics or anti-retroviral drugs
Know your STIs!
- Knowing what Gonorrhoea, Syphilis and HIV looks like is a surefire way to keep yourself safe. Find out more information about them below:
Gonorrhoea cases in men who have sex with men have more than tripled since 2010* You can now get a simple urine or swab test for Gonorrhoea – so get tested You are at risk of Gonorrhoea from unprotected oral, anal or vaginal sex. Symptoms can include
a sore throat, a painful burning sensation when passing urine or discharge from the penis or rectum. However, people may show no symptoms at all. Gonorrhoea also increases your chances of getting other STIs, such as HIV Don’t leave it to chance!
*Public Health Agency STI Surveillance Report, 2013Don’t leave it to chance!
HIV is on the increase in men who have sex with men in Northern Ireland.
Early detection and treatment improves your chances of living a long and healthy life – so get tested
Only a third of men who have sex with men have been tested for HIV in the last year*. Getting tested early and effective modern treatment can improve your quality of life, extend life years and help stop the spread of HIV. You are at risk of HIV from unprotected oral, anal or vaginal sex, and you are more likely to get HIV if you have another STI.
Don’t leave it to chance!
*All Ireland EMIS Survey Report, 2010
9 out of 10 Syphilis cases last year occurred in men who have sex with men*
Syphilis increases your chances of getting other STIs such as HIV – so get tested.
Syphilis is still a series health issue in Northern Ireland. If detected early, it can be treated successfully with antibiotics. If left untreated, however, it can lead to heart disease, stroke, blindness or dementia. Initial symptoms can be difficult to recognise. The most common is a painless ulcer or sore at the site of infection (called a shankar).
Don’t leave it to chance!
*Public Health Agency STI Surveillance Report, 2013