To coincide with International Women’s Day I would encourage women to take ownership of their own sexual health. In Northern Ireland, women currently account for 31% of those living with HIV and this is reflective of a continuing increase in heterosexual transmission.
I would urge women to be pro-active – make sure you carry your own condoms, go for regular HIV testing and seek professional support and treatment if you are HIV+.
International Women’s Day is a unique opportunity for women to celebrate their achievements, but it’s also an opportunity to inspire and educate. HIV is widely stigmatised in Northern Ireland and those living openly with the condition have told us that they have felt discriminated against or devalued.
I believe that if the stereotypes were challenged, HIV testing would increase in turn decreasing late diagnosis. So I would call on local women to take the lead by no longer being afraid to speak about the issues around HIV to their friends and partners.
Be part of that change by following Positive Life’s top tips for taking good care of your sexual health:
1. Don’t be afraid to ask your partner about their sexual health;
2. Do engage in regular testing so you can be fully aware of your sexual wellbeing status;
3. Do educate yourself on sexual health and HIV by discussing with Positive Life, your GP or the GUM Clinic;
4. Share your knowledge with your friends and loved ones;
5. Do carry your own condoms. HIV is unlikely to be transmitted during sexual intercourse when a condom is worn; and
6. Spend some time reading the pages on this website for further information.