“Use a mask when going out…and a condom when going in” says HIV Charity Positive Life at the start of Sexual Health Week 2021

NI’s only dedicated HIV charity, Positive Life, has urged the public that once we get the chance to come together post lockdown, we need to look after our own sexual health and wear a condom.

The organisation, which supports those living with HIV in Northern Ireland, says it is fully aware that many who are sexually active want to get back out to socialise, have sex and enjoy themselves after such long periods of being confined to home.

As Sexual Health Week 2021 kicks off today (8 – 14 February) Positive Life are encouraging those who will be sexually active after the lockdown restrictions are lifted, to take their sexual health and safer sex practice into their own hands.

Although around 1200 people are now living with HIV in Northern Ireland, the charity says that it is hugely encouraged to see that the latest statistics for the 2019-year showed 52 new HIV diagnoses in comparison to 84 the year before in 2018.  

HIV issues have been thrust into the limelight through the TV hit Channel 4 drama ‘It’s a Sin’ which depicts the stigma associated with the condition in the 1980’s. A recent survey carried out by Positive Life showed that perceptions of HIV in Northern Ireland still remain largely unchallenged with a distinct lack of understanding about how it is contracted and that it is now a lifelong condition due to medical advancements.

Jacquie Richardson, Chief Executive, Positive Life said:

“Let’s get real about all this. We’ve had various extended periods of lockdown for the last year and we’re not ignorant to the fact that there is likely to be a lot of pent-up desire for many to get back out there when we can and have some fun.”

“People have sex. Let’s face fact. We have to be grown up about it and understand that some will be highly active after repeated lockdowns.”

“There is really no way of telling if we are holding back the dam, but we want to make sure that when people can get back out there again, that they look after own sexual health and wellbeing. No one else will, this is an issue of personal responsibility.”

“Most people are now used to wearing a mask when they are out in public and understand the risk they put themselves at if they don’t. In the same way, we want to make it clear to those who are sexually active that they should protect themselves by using a condom, especially if it is a person they may have just met.”

“It’s not a simple case of sanitising your bits at the door like you are going into your local supermarket, it’s about thinking about your own sexual health and taking protection with you as you go out to socialise and get back to real life.”

Here is a link to the Belfast Telegraph article in full.