New campaign urges gay men in relationships to ‘play it safe’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The Terrence Higgins Trust has launched a new HIV-prevention campaign aimed at gay men who are in long-term relationships. The campaign, which will appear in selected gay press and on posters and postcards, is part of the Pan-London HIV Prevention Partnership (PLHPP) and seeks to address the issue of safe sex within gay male relationships.

The poster campaign image features two toothbrushes in a glass to symbolise a serious, live-in relationship and poses the question, “When you find a boyfriend, can you lose the condoms?” The ad continues, “Use condoms unless you’ve both tested. And keep using them if you’re having risky sex with others.” The campaign also bears in mind the fact that some couples are not monogamous – and seeks to highlight that this is one way HIV can enter a relationship.

Campaigns for HIV prevention and awareness are rarely, if ever, aimed at men in relationships, focusing instead on the risks associated with casual or indiscriminate sexual encounters. However, a significant number of men in couples become infected with HIV.

This campaign reminds men to continue using condoms or both test for HIV if they do not wish to use them. Condoms remain the most effective way to protect against HIV and testing is the only sure way to know one’s status.

Alan Wardle, Head of Health Promotion for Terrence Higgins Trust said, “We know that for some men in a relationship, condoms can be one of the first things to go. Why do you need them if you’re in a relationship? Yet the fact is, if you’ve not talked to your partner about their sexual history and yours before you ditch the condoms, you could be at risk. We know that some men may find it difficult to discuss their sex life with their partner, but if you don’t talk about it how will you know?”