Gay former professional rugby star Gareth Thomas will appear on the cover of this month’s Attitude magazine, its annual ‘naked issue’, which is to focus on sexual health.
Attitude magazine is helping launch a campaign with the National AIDS Trust and Dr Christian Jessen today urging gay and bisexual men to test for HIV annually and consistently use condoms.
Citing figures that one in 20 gay or bisexual men is living with HIV, and 25 percent are unaware, Attitude has helped launch the campaign with an eye-catching cover to June’s issue with the UK’s first openly gay professional rugby union player, while demure packaging will partially obstruct the cover in newsagents.
Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT, said: “Getting more gay men tested is crucial in the fight against HIV – so that those who have HIV can get diagnosed and start receiving the care and treatment they need in good time, and those who don’t have HIV can continue taking the right steps to ensure they stay negative.
“NAT has launched a new HIV Testing Action Plan and is delighted to link with Attitude and Dr Christian Jessen to campaign for gay men to ‘Use a Condom and Get Tested’. It’s a simple message with a big meaning, and the more we make it a part of our everyday lives the more we can make reducing HIV among gay men a reality.”
Dr Christian Jessen said: “We know people avoid getting tested, and it is mainly fear or misinformation that puts them off. I hope this campaign will mean that more gay men start to get tested at least once a year, and that late diagnosis and further infections can be reduced.
“I am very happy to support NAT’s Testing Action Plan and the new campaign, which says ‘Use a Condom and Get Tested’. If you do both these things you have a much better chance of staying HIV-negative, and if you do contract the virus, of controlling it, staying healthy and avoiding passing it on to others.”
Attitude Editor Matthew Todd said: “Sex education in schools is woeful, especially if you are a gay or bisexual man, and it is contributing to the high levels of infection among us.
“From talking to young gay men in particular I hear a lack of understanding that they are at higher risk of catching HIV than the general population. We’re hoping this campaign will start a discussion and send a message out there that currently is not hitting home.”
Attitude’s ‘naked’ June issue is on sale now.