Tag Archives: sex

A gay man’s experience of using PEP (Emergency HIV medication)

In recent months I experienced something I never thought I’d have to deal with when I faced the possibility that I might have contracted HIV.

I have been sexually responsible for my entire adult life and have always been heavily influenced by warnings of the past regarding HIV and AIDS, however all it takes is one moment of passion to let your guard down and you can find yourself in a situation similar to mine which resulted in me taking the HIV emergency medication known as PEP. The days leading up to my 28-day treatment were possibly some of the scariest of my life. Experiencing this drug first hand and the people I encountered along the way brought on a variety of conflicting emotions and an understanding of sexual health I never thought I’d have to comprehend.

Story via Metro

What is PEP?

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is a month-long course of medication which aims to prevent HIV infection after the virus has potentially entered a person’s body. The drug is used as an emergency measure on a person who may have been exposed to the virus, either through infection or sexual transmission. Although PEP is not 100% guaranteed to always work, the success rate is very high. It’s very important to make clear that PEP should not be considered an alternative to using condoms as prevention for contracting HIV. Using condoms is the most effective method of preventing HIV transmission as well as other sexually transmitted diseases.

The drug should also not be viewed as some form of a morning after pill either – PEP is a powerful drug and users like me risk side effects, not to mention the fact PEP isn’t taken on just one occasion like with morning after pills. I myself am lucky enough to have not experienced any side-effects of PEP, but the potential side-effects include prolonged headaches, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. If you experience any of these side effects you should not stop taking the medication as once stopped, PEP will not be effective. Contact your doctor to discuss any issues you may be encountering on the drug to get an informed decision on what to do next. Timing is also crucial when it comes to PEP. If the course of drugs has not started within 72 hours of potential infection, the drug will no longer be effective.

Why I took PEP

My reasoning for using this often misunderstood drug was down to one thing: paranoia. The partner I had engaged in potentially risky sexual activity with was someone I know to be practising safe sex, and although we weren’t in a relationship we were very open with one another about our fears of HIV risks in the gay community and HIV tests we had previously taken. Nonetheless, I couldn’t shake the feeling of ‘what if?’ after this particular sexual encounter.

After two days of endless overthinking, excessive Googling and sheer panic I decided to bite the bullet and visit my nearest sexual health clinic. On this particular evening the clinic stated upon my entrance that the session was for appointment-only patients – my heart sank as this was my final chance to obtain PEP before the 72 hour window had closed. However, after quietly asking if I could speak to a nurse in private I was humbled to learn how genuinely concerned and helpful the staff at the clinic were. I was ushered into a private room where I explained my situation and within five minutes the nurse had made space for me and I was on the waiting list.

After a short wait I was seen by the doctor who carefully took note of my situation, perfectly explained what PEP was and reassured me that coming to the clinic after potentially being exposed to HIV was the right thing to do. Hearing that my decision to take PEP was the right one was all I wanted to hear from a medical professional at that time. The doctor agreed with my sentiment that if you’re asking yourself ‘what if?’ then you should absolutely take no risks when it comes to HIV, because, ultimately, the only sexual health status you can be 100% sure of is your own. After taking a few blood samples and a quick HIV test, which is something I had done many times over the past few years, I was given my PEP medication.

The instructions were to take one tablet in the morning and two at night, taken exactly 12 hours apart at the same time every day. I was however only given a three day supply of the drug. The doctor informed me that this is normal practice and it’s up to the patient to pick up the remainder of their 28 day supply from their pharmacy. It is absolutely imperative that users of PEP plan ahead to make sure their supply of pills does not run out before retrieving the full medication.

The future

My experience with PEP, which I am currently still using until my 28 days are up, has been both fearful and insightful. In the short amount of time between considering starting a course of the drug and actually taking it I learned more about HIV and the treatments available than ever before. I also came to appreciate the services we have available in this country – if I wasn’t lucky enough to live in such a privileged part of the world who knows how I would be forced to handle a situation like this. Life after PEP will most likely enhance my sexual health paranoia, however I believe that being overly careful is always better than being slack when it comes to an issue such as this. Although I’m confident my treatment will be successful, I am currently still in my PEP bubble which involves a daily routine of taking pills with an alarm reminder at either end of my days. In the end, whether I actually needed the drug or not in the first place, it was most definitely worth it.

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Casual Sex Encounters? Tips for staying safe online & at #LeicesterPride

ChemSex

Image © 2014 TJRFoto

Protect yourself while having sex, it’s our number one message and it’s primarily directed around having safer sex in terms of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

This time, we’re talking about your physical safety.  When you’re meeting someone new while you’re at Leicester Pride or using an app then going home afterwards.  With Leicester Pride coming up on Saturday it’s a good opportunity to meet new people, maybe even ‘The One’ and update yourself on some common sense advice for meeting people for the first time, maybe even share this with a friend if you think they’ll benefit from this.

This isn’t the normal yada yada, it’s an unfortunate fact that gay people are attacked, mugged or worse, sometimes on the promise of meeting someone for sex.  I’m lucky, it’s never happened to me before but last year, a friend of mine was beaten up and was robbed in his own house, just for meeting someone online!  There are people who exploit online dating apps and I’m sorry but in 2016, homophobia still exists.  Here are just a few UK headlines from this month alone..

A lot of people use apps to look for sex and many find it.  We know it’s exciting to meet strangers too for those evenings of passion which you remember for days on end but you must ensure you are safe with new people you have only just met. It would be irrational to say don’t do it at all so here’s a pointers on how to stay safe while hooking up online..

LET A FRIEND KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON

If you’re one the lucky ones (the type of person who can hook-up within a few minutes of logging on), the chances are that you’ve probably got a friend that is equally as friendly as you are. So, put that friendship to use!  Take a screenshot of your next meet’s face pic then text it along with the address to your pal with a note that you’ll text them as soon as you’re done so they know you’re safe. The bonus is that you’ll have a record of all your online meets, someone to talk to them about and a printable face pic to put on a dartboard in case they end up being a time waster. It’s a win-win situation.

TRUST YOUR GUT

You know that feeling when something isn’t right, when you know that everything isn’t as it should be and you’re second guessing yourself, trust it! Most of us have experienced the sense of knowing things before we know them, even if we can’t explain how. Theories suggest you can “feel” approaching events specifically because of your dopamine neurons. “The jitters of dopamine help keep track of reality, alerting us to those subtle patterns that we can’t consciously detect,” explains Jonah Lehrer, author of the book: How We Decide.

So when chatting to someone, at Pride, on apps or otherwise for the first time, your instincts can tell you whether or not there’s a “creep factor” that you can’t shake off. If you get even a hint that there is something not right about the situation, don’t go, find someone else, the internet is an ocean with plenty of fish, stay away from the sharks!

KNOW HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

Everyone should know how to escape danger and how to protect themselves.  If you’re a small frame, and into the big muscle type then you’ve got to be aware that you’re at a physical disadvantage going into the situation. At the very least you should know how to escape a bad situation. A few self-defence lessons from a martial arts centre could make all the difference if you’re ever confronted in the future or worse, attacked by someone in your own home who you’ve just met online.

If you’re not interested in signing up to a centre, use YouTube instead.  Search for ‘how to protect yourself in a fight’ or ‘self-defence techniques’ and explore what’s there.

If you’re more serious about this, here’s a link to explore some Martial Art‘s centres in Leicester: http://dojos.co.uk/Leicester/ It’s another way to meet new people, have more social interaction and all while keeping fit and helping to protect yourself! Another Win Win!

AVOID ANONYMOUS ENCOUNTERS

It needs to be said, some people are very into the anonymity and fantasy of a total stranger coming in to their home and having sex with no prior discussion and we have to say that this is probably one of the most dangerous things that you can do after looking for sex online. If you think it’s a good idea to have your head buried in the pillow and leave your door unlocked while waiting for a complete stranger to enter your home then get over it. Now.

Engaging in this particular type of fantasy leaves you more open to robbery and sexual assault, and leaves you in the most vulnerable position you could be in. If this is really your thing, don’t do it on the first time you arrange something but if you do, you should tell someone what you’re up to as a safety net.  Remember, it’s safer and eaiser to arrange this kind meet with someone you already know so make it a part of a fantasy so you can have the good sex with only the idea of the danger.

HAVE A REGULAR ONLINE BUDDY

OK, so if you’re doing the Grindr & Tindr thing. Obviously there is always going to be the awkwardness of meeting someone for the first time. If the sex is really good and you’re both into making it a regular thing, then why not use the app to reconnect with them? You’ve obviously both passed the chemistry test so now you have someone who can be trusted on some level that you have really good sex with.

(And here’s the dirty little secret about finding people for sex, most people actually want a regular partner to meet up with, even if they’re not looking for a boyfriend/girlfriend).

So have fun “auditioning” people, and when you find one or two (or ten) that you click with, go ahead and put them in your phonebook. Properly vetted online friends with benefits can nullify the need for all of this advice so keep your eyes open for someone good to add to your black book – It’ll save you a lot of stress in the long run.

Are you going to Pride? What tips do you have for staying safe?  Would you add anything to this list? – Let us know in the comments.

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Many of our youth have distressing sexual problems.

Sexual-Problems

At least one in 10 of UK 16 to 21 year-olds questioned in a survey admits to having a “distressing sexual problem” in the past year.  A lack of education around “issues of sexual satisfaction” is one of the causes, according to researchers.

They analysed data from 1,875 sexually active and 517 sexually inactive people aged 16 to 21.  Climaxing, erectile dysfunction and lack of interest in sex are some of the main issues.

The findings have been published in the Journal of Adolescent Health and the analysis is described as the “largest scientific study” of sexual health lifestyles in Britain.

It concluded that around one in 10 men and one in eight women aged 16 to 21 in Britain who are sexually active have experienced a “distressing” sexual problem lasting at least three months in the past year.

Among women, the most common problem reported was difficulty reaching a climax. Among men the most common were reaching a climax too quickly and difficulty getting and keeping an erection.

Researchers say that failing to address problems in early adulthood could potentially affect sexual happiness and relationships in the future.

Doctor Kirstin Mitchell from the University of Glasgow is the lead author of the report and says sexual difficulties can impact on young people’s sexual wellbeing in the longer term.

“When it comes to young people’s sexuality, professional concern is usually focused on preventing sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy,” she says.  “However, we should be considering sexual health much more broadly.”

The report found more than a third of people who reported one or more sexual problems had sought help about their sex life, but rarely from a professional. They asked for help from family and friends or searched for advice on the internet.

Study co-author Professor Kaye Wellings, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, wants sex education in schools to change.  “UK sex education is often silent on issues of sexual satisfaction, but these are clearly important to young people and should be addressed.

“Sex education could do much more to debunk myths about sex, discuss pleasure and promote gender equality in relationships.”

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Thailand becomes first country in Asia to eliminate mother-child HIV spread

A HIV-positive mother plays with her son, who did not contract the virus from her, in Phetchaburi province, south of Bangkok. (Credit: SAKCHAI LALIT/AP)

A HIV-positive mother plays with her son, who did not contract the virus from her, in Phetchaburi province, south of Bangkok. (Credit: SAKCHAI LALIT/AP)

Thailand’s success comes from strong prenatal care from large cities all the way to the poorest villages. Nearly all pregnant Thai women are screened for HIV, 95 per cent of those who test positive are treated to prevent transmission to their babies and almost 100 per cent of babies born to HIV-positive mothers are given antiretroviral drugs.

Article via Telegraph
telegraph_OUTLINE-small

However, hundreds of thousands of migrant women, many of them working or seeking menial jobs in Thailand, are not included in the data. Many poor women from neighbouring Burma and Cambodia do not receive any prenatal care or HIV screening while in Thailand.

A 2010 Thai government report found that two to three times more migrant women were infected with HIV in certain areas of the country.

There are an estimated 2.7 million registered and undocumented male and female migrant workers in Thailand. They have limited access to the country’s health care system, and many are reluctant to get tested or treated for HIV due to language barriers or out of fear they will lose their jobs or have negative interactions with police or other authority figures, according to UNAids.

Steve Mills, technical director at nonprofit FHI360’s Asia-Pacific office in Bangkok, said this is an area Thailand needs to improve, along with focusing more on at-risk populations such as intravenous drug users and sex workers operating outside of brothels. Gay men and transgender people are of particular concern.

“With the evolution of the epidemic and people being on HIV treatment, it’s meant that condom use is harder to get to a satisfactory level,” he said, adding that gay men and transgender people are often harder to reach today because couples often meet through social networks instead of in bars, saunas or other public places where outreach workers once targeted them.

“We need to encourage people to get tested.”

Last year, the World Bank published a study calling for more free anonymous testing and treatment among gay men. It said the rate of infection within Bangkok alone had jumped from an estimated 21 per cent in 2000 to 28 per cent in 2012.

Only one-fifth of those infected were receiving antiretroviral drugs, even though it’s provided by the government without cost.

Thailand was hailed by the international community as a model for other countries after promoting 100 per cent condom use among sex workers in brothels in the 1990s, drastically reducing infection rates.

But Aids continues to kill. In 2014, an estimated 20,000 people died from the disease in Thailand, a rate that has remained steady for the past five years. An estimated 450,000 people are living with the virusin the country of 60 million.

 

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Casual Sex Encounters? – Read This & Stay Safe!

RobsonTomUnsafe

‘Ready & Waiting – by Tom Robson

Protect yourself while having sex, it’s our number one message and it’s primarily directed around having safer sex in terms of sexually transmitted infections.

What then when meeting new people while out then going home afterwards or online, using a website or app?

A lot of people use the internet to look for sex and many find it.  We know it’s it’s exciting to meet strangers too for those evenings of passion which you remember for days on end but you must ensure you are safe with new people you have only just met. It would be irrational to say don’t do it at all so here’s a pointers on how to stay safe while hooking up online..

Let a Friend Know What’s Going On

If you’re the type of person who can find a hook-up within a few minutes of logging on, the chances are that you’ve probably got a friend that is equally as friendly as you are. So, why not put that friendship to its best use? Take a screenshot of your next meet’s face pic (because we know you’re not seeing them without one)! then text it along with the address to your pal with a note that you’ll text them as soon as you’re done so they know you’re safe. The bonus is that you’ll have a record of all your online meets, someone to talk to them about and a printable face pic to put on a dartboard in case they end up being a time waster. It’s a win-win situation.

Trust Your Gut

You know that feeling when something isn’t right, when you know that everything isn’t as it should be and you’re second guessing yourself, trust it! Most of us have experienced the sense of knowing things before we know them, even if we can’t explain how. Theories suggest you can “feel” approaching events specifically because of your dopamine neurons. “The jitters of dopamine help keep track of reality, alerting us to those subtle patterns that we can’t consciously detect,” explains Jonah Lehrer, author of the book: How We Decide.

So when chatting to someone on and off line, your instincts can tell you whether or not there’s a “creep factor” that you can’t shake off. If you get even a hint that there is something not right about the situation, don’t go, find someone else, the internet is an ocean with plenty of fish, stay away from the sharks!

Know How To Protect Yourself

If you’re a small frame, and into the big muscle type then you’ve got to be aware that you’re at a physical disadvantage going into the situation. At the very least you should know how to escape a bad situation. A few self-defence lessons from a martial arts centre could make all the difference if you’re ever confronted in the future or worse, attacked by someone in your own home who you’ve just met online.  If you’re interested, here’s some details of Martial Art‘s centres in Leicester: http://dojos.co.uk/Leicester/ It’s another avenue to explore for social interaction while keeping fit and helping to protect yourself! Win Win!

Avoid Anonymous Encounters

It needs to be said, some people are very into the anonymity and fantasy of a total stranger coming in to their home and having sex with no prior discussion and we have to say that this is probably one of the most dangerous things that you can do after looking for sex online. If you think it’s a good idea to have your head buried in the pillow and leave your door unlocked while waiting for a complete stranger to enter your home then get over it. Now.

Engaging in this particular type of fantasy leaves you more open to robbery and sexual assault, and leaves you in the most vulnerable position you could be in. If this is really your thing, engage in it with a trusted friend/meet and make it a part of the fantasy so you can have the good sex with only the idea of the danger.

Have A Regular Online Buddy

OK, so if you’re doing the Grindr & Tindr thing. Obviously there is always going to be the awkwardness of meeting someone for the first time. If the sex is really good and you’re both into making it a regular thing, then why not use the app to reconnect with them? You’ve obviously both passed the chemistry test and since you’re both smart enough not to try to make a ‘relationship’ out of an online meet then you’re left with someone who can be trusted on some level that you have really good sex with.

(And here’s the dirty little secret about getting sex online, most people actually want a regular partner to meet up with, even if they’re not looking for a boyfriend/girlfriend).

So have fun “auditioning” people, and when you find one or two (or ten) that you click with, go ahead and put them in your phonebook. Properly vetted online friends with benefits can nullify the need for all of this advice so keep your eyes open for someone good to add to your black book – It’ll save you a lot of stress in the long run.

Would you add anything to this list? – Let us know in the comments.

 

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Boys who like boys: A survey of understanding about sex

gaykiss

HIV diagnoses among young gay and bisexual men have more than doubled in the past 10 years and rates of HIV transmission among gay and bisexual men remain constant, with no evidence of decline. (Get the data)

We know that there is now more opportunity for gay and bisexual men to meet sexual partners and form relationships; however this is not being matched with increased provision of information and support around relationships, safer sex, HIV and their general health and well-being.

Much more can be done to better meet the health and wellbeing needs of young gay and bisexual men to help reduce HIV transmission and to improve their general health and well being irrespective of HIV. Part of this is responding specifically to support and information related need. For example, research also shows that sex and relationships education (SRE) in schools is often inaccessible and not relevant to the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people, which threatens to undermine this group’s right to education.

In addition, where young gay and bisexual men might conventionally learn about safer sex, relationships and HIV, such as educational settings, they can experience marginalisation and homophobic prejudice.  (See the School Report, Stonewall 2012)

The National AIDS Trust (NAT) have designed a survey looking at where and how young gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM)  source information, advice or support about sexuality, sex and relationships, safer sex, and HIV; whether they think these sources are helpful; and what types of additional information and support they would like more of. The survey will also assess respondents knowledge around HIV, safer sex and human rights, and reported sexual behaviour. The survey is targeted at young gay and bisexual men aged 14 – 19.

Access the survey (and enter for a chance to win a £75 voucher) by clicking this link.

Take our survey of understanding about sex

 

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Happy Valentines Day!!

Gender Symbols

Each year, on 14th February around the world, flowers, chocolates and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine.

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London).  Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.

By the middle of the 18th century, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine’s Day greetings.

Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (Next to Christmas with 2.6 cards are sent for Christmas).

Today, alongside traditional paper based cards, digital eCards are sent, (the first ‘Electronic Postcard’ was created and sent in 1994 by Judith Donath of MIT Media Lab) and since that time, a large variety of websites offer similar services – to share and send ecards to loved ones at times of celebration.

LASS are no different, and we offer you the following video to share with your loved ones. As a sexual health charity, we obviously like to talk about sex and encourage people to enjoy sex responsibility, so what better time to release a cheeky video than Valentine’s Day?

Please share our video with your valentine (and your friends)!  We wish you all a very happy Valentine’s day or evening, (Whatever you get up to) and we hope our cheeky message will remind you to have a good time, and remember to be safe while you’re having it 😉

Tanya Goodwin created this concept video with animation by Richie Phillips at Seed Creativity.

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