ACON has launched a new campaign putting testing and treatment at the heart of efforts to reduce STI rates among gay men in NSW
Produced by Ending HIV, ACON’s community engagement and mobilisation initiative, the new campaign raises awareness of STIs and aims to empower gay men to take control of their sexual health by using condoms and having regular STI tests.
The campaign will appear across various platforms including print, digital, social and outdoor media.
It is complemented by video voiced by Founder of the Bell Shakespeare theatre company, John Bell, encouraging gay men to get tested and treated for STIs.
In NSW, STI rates have increased in recent years in the general community with rates of gonorrhoea, syphilis and chlamydia rising steadily. Among gay men, unprecedented levels of testing has led to more STIs being diagnosed.
ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill says the new campaign seeks to address STIs among gay men in a rapidly-evolving sexual health and HIV prevention landscape.
“We are experiencing significant shifts with how members our community are adopting new HIV prevention strategies such as PrEP – a pill taken daily by HIV-negative people to prevent HIV transmission – and UVL – where people with HIV take treatment that see viral loads suppressed to an undetectable level, meaning that transmission is virtually impossible,” Mr Parkhill says.
“It is imperative that our community is up to date with the latest sexual health information, including STIs, so they can look after their health and the health of their sexual partners. This new campaign ensures members of our community can make informed decisions about their sexual health,” Mr Parkhill says.
“Most STIs are easily remedied but if left untreated, they can be transmitted to sexual partners, facilitate the sexual transmission of HIV, contribute to the development of additional complications, and further compound associated stigma, stress and anxiety.
“Continuing to use condoms and developing a regular HIV and STI testing routine, are ways people can support their sexual health.”
The campaign has been developed in partnership with the Sexually Transmissible Infections in Gay Men Action Group (STIGMA), a coalition comprising public health and research organisations that work towards reducing STIs in the gay community in NSW.
Its launch coincides with the release of ACON’s Sexual Health Action Plan 2017-2021, which sets out ACON’s response to sexual health over the next four years.
“Our plan has a clear set of goals and outlines a comprehensive response aimed at improving the sexual health of LGBTI people,” Mr Parkhill says.
“We will continue to work with our government, community and health partners, as well as seek out new partnerships and funding opportunities to ensure we address the sexual health needs of people in our communities.”