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Healthy Gay Cornwall can guide you through making the right choices for you, based on good information and understanding what the risks are, and how you can avoid them.

So why do some of us end up with HIV or an STI? Maybe we don't know the facts and how HIV & STI's are transmitted.

Some of us maybe didn't receive the sex education we needed in school and learnt much of what we know about sex with men from friends (or even porn, which can depict sex as unrealistic, and in some cases dangerous and without consequence ) Some of us may feel embarrassed about talking about sex and accessing services that deal with sexual issues (it's still a common misconception that people only attend sexual health clinics when they have an infection... do people only attend the dentist when they have toothache?)

Others may believe HIV & STI's have gone away and that we don't need to use condoms anymore (there's actually more HIV in our community than ever before, and so the need to use condoms is greater than ever) Some men don't get on with condoms or find them hard to get hold of (We supply a range of shapes and sizes and they're all free!) Sometimes alcohol, recreational drugs, depression, or self esteem issues may increase the likelihood of us making risky choices with our sexual behaviour too.

Research shows that 1 in 20 gay/bisexual men and men who have sex with men (MSM) in the UK are now thought to be HIV positive.

A fifth of those don't even know they have the virus and remain untested, unwittingly putting the lives of others at risk. There is no cure for HIV. Treatments have come on leaps and bounds in recent years, they work effectively at slowing down the progression of HIV in the system as long as they are taken as prescribed. New medications like Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) and Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) are now seen as additional tools to reduce HIV transmission.

 

Other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI's) are also prevalent and on the increase within our community.

Syphilis has made a huge comeback in the past few years, and Gonorrhoea, Chlamydia, Herpes, Genital Warts etc are all out there too.  Whilst most STI's are treatable, left untreated they can have longer term ill health effects. People with HIV may also find it difficult to clear infections due to damaged immune systems.

As we mentioned earlier, there are lots of reasons why some of us may not use condoms consistently and correctly, and we understand that simply throwing condoms at men and expecting them to use them isn't the total answer to HIV & STI prevention. Hence we try to work with men around issues that may affect condom usage and better sexual health in a more holistic way.

It's a good idea to get a full screen at a sexual health clinic.

Particularly if you're having/had sex with a number of partners, or planning to stop using condoms in a longer term (and monogamous) relationship - even if you show no symptoms of infection. Many gay/bisexual/MSM go for an annual "full service" just to check they haven't picked anything up, and this is considered perfectly normal and good practice by health professionals (remember the similarities to the dentist?)

Sexual health services are completely free and confidential (the information isn't passed to your G.P. without your permission) and if you do have an infection there is treatment & support. Healthy Gay Cornwall can even support you through visiting the clinic for the 1st time.  

Using condoms correctly can protect you and your partner from HIV and STI's