Looking for sex online is part of the norm now for a growing number of people. Gay men in particular use apps like Grindr to chat to guys and quickly organise random hook ups – quick sex is never far away.
These apps are part of the social media landscape and have become central to the lives of many gay men, so being available to chat with guys on these apps about their sexual health is essential to improving access to health information and services.
So not only can we improve health equity by being online, we can also answer any guy’s questions about HIV and STI prevention, and that’s what we’re all about.
You might have already noticed us or even spoken to us, because since July 2013, we have been talking to guys all over Queensland on a few apps and sites, like:
- Grindr – Sex Ed
- Scruff – Sex Ed
- BBRT – Sexed
- Gaydar – Qpp_Sex-ed
- Squirt – Letstalkaboutsex
My name’s Craig and I’m the guy you’ve been talking to. I’m a Community HIV Education and Prevention Officer at QPP. As a gay man, I’m passionate about my work and educating or discussing sexual health issues that may come up for you from time to time.
Online outreach is a core part of my job, because we need to be working with all gay men wherever they choose to be. The most important thing to know though is that no question is a stupid question. I’m always chatting about things like:
- HIV testing – a lot of guys just want to know where the nearest place is to get a full sexual health check.
- Acquiring an STI from oral sex – many STI’s are high risk of acquiring through oral sex, such as Gonorrhoea. HIV, on the other hand, has a very low risk of transmission orally providing there are no cuts or abrasions in your mouth, which can occur from brushing your teeth just before oral sex.
- PrEP – Pre Exposure Prophylaxis, not currently available in Australia with trials hoping to start later in the year. PrEP is a course of HIV medication that is taken prior to an exposure to HIV.
- I can also refer you to any other services or programs that may be helpful to your individual circumstances.
I love talking to everyone about HIV, because many people don’t know how much has changed over the last few years. HIV is not like it once was and with access to treatment, a person living with HIV can live a long, healthy and fulfilling life. Unfortunately though, it can be hard for everyone to learn the facts when so many of us are using negative language like ‘clean, u b 2’ on our online sex profiles.
Telling someone that they aren’t “clean” because they are HIV positive is stigmatising and it creates a division in the community that has no scientific reason for existing. Sometimes it seems like HIV stigma is worse within the gay community than it is through the rest of society. People don’t realise that a person’s HIV status doesn’t really matter, your only job is to take on the responsibility for your own sexual health – then you’re good to go.
I’m happy to talk to you about any risk reduction strategies, but remember the most effective method of preventing HIV and STI’s are condoms. If you need help accessing condoms, QPP have an online order form at www.qpp.org.au/freecondoms. I can have them posted out to you ASAP. So if you’re concerned about anything to do with your sexual health, then get in touch with me.
One other thing to mention is that QPP now have a live chat functionality on our website – www.qpp.org.au – so you can also get on there and chat to any of us about HIV. Don’t ever be worried about confidentiality though, all chats remain anonymous and QPP have a confidentiality policy that applies to all staff and anyone who works closely with us.