I remain fairly shocked about the number of gay men that continue to practice unsafe sex in the modern day. Perhaps the devastating effects of Aids when it first emerged onto the gay scene in the 1980’s has bypassed the younger generation. They don’t know the horrific consequences it brought, they haven’t seen any high profile safe sex campaigns. Perhaps it’s that the disease is now seen as a chronic, yet manageable illness. Something that isn’t necessarily fatal any more. I don’t know, but whatever many men’s thoughts, practising safe sex is still vitally important, not only to protect yourself, but to stop the disease from spreading.
On December 1st it’s World Aids Day and, as gay men, we are all being asked to make the following pledge.
- I will know my HIV status
- I will not assume I know someone else’s HIV status
- I will take personal responsibility for using condoms
- I will value myself and my health
- I will stay informed about HIV and how it is spread
Every single point in the pledge is easy, and can help fight AIDS at the very source – transmission. The Soho Clinic in Dean Street, London, is a free testing centre where you can find out your status easily. They have a drop in facility, and whilst you may have to wait a while (it was only 30mins when I went) the actual test takes literally a few minutes. There are onsite counselling groups should you need them and a brilliant text service to let you know results if you decide to have further STD tests done.
Knowing your status is the single most important aspect. Over 25per cent of people living with HIV do not know they have it. Not only are they not on the drugs that will help stave off the disease’s effects, but they could be unknowingly passing it on to partners.
Getting a test is scary, lets not lie. Especially if you haven’t had one before. But knowledge is power. So this World Aids Day, get tested, find out your status, and take the steps needed to prevent AIDS continuing to spread. Assume all your partners are positive, but bring it up in every case so that the topic is an open book. And stay safe, use freedoms, and ensure that you have a fun, and healthy future.