HIV/AIDS charity Terrence Higgins Trust is launching a new campaign to warn gay men that HIV can also be caught through their penises.

The initiative hopes to counter the myth that HIV can only be caught if men are “bottoms”.

It follows the ‘biology of transmission’ campaign launched late last year and focused on how HIV could be transmitted if you’re a ‘bottom’ during unprotected sex.

This time the poster campaign focuses on how men can get HIV through their penises. It uses an illustration of a penis with a strapline reading: “During anal sex, HIV can enter the bloodstream through the absorbent head of the cock. Condoms stop this.”

Alan Wardle, head of health promotion said: “Many men assume that you’re only at risk of getting HIV if you’re a ‘bottom’. Whilst it’s true that ‘bottoms’ have a greater risk of becoming infected if they have sex without a condom it’s important that ‘tops’ are aware that HIV can also be passed on through the cock. The message here is that being a ‘top’ won’t necessarily reduce your risk – condoms will.”

The campaign will appear on ads in London gay press until late April. They will also be seen on posters and postcards displayed in bars, saunas, GUM clinics and community centres and web banners on Gaydar. Posters are available with neutral imagery and are suitable for display in gay venues.