The Rainbow Project has a key role in the LGBT community, working to improve the sexual and mental health of members of our community. They have always been supportive of Pride, and this year they are organising three sexual health clinics during Pride week, and will also be sending volunteers to help us at every one of our events. Belfast Pride is deeply grateful for this support, and we would like to publicly acknowledge the dedication shown by staff and volunteers in the Rainbow Project.
The Rainbow Project in partnership with the Royal Gum Clinic have organised free confidential, sexual health testing and support clinics over the Pride week. The clinics will take place in the Outiside and Pipeworks Saunas and also at the Party in the Square event.
According to the Health Protection Agency, in 2009, as reported to end December 2009, there were 65 new HIV diagnoses. The 2009 figure represents a 261% increase on the 18 new diagnoses in 2000. Just under half (47%; 186/396) the individuals accessing care were infected through sexual contact between men who have sex with men.
It is evident from the statistics that HIV is a growing issue within our community. The clinics are styled to be completely confidential, non-judgmental and provide clients with support around sexual health issues.
The Rainbow Project examined commonly held myths around HIV in its recent Don’t Think Know campaign which can be viewed online at http://www.rainbow-project.org/sh/dont-think-know
There are several advantages to being tested early on in the course of HIV infection:
- You have much more time to get used to living with HIV before you have to start taking treatment permanently.
- You can monitor your health effectively.
- You are more infectious during this period, and much more likely to pass HIV on to your partners, so knowing your status can help you to avoid passing HIV on to others.
Late diagnosis is a serious problem in relation to health complications and HIV related deaths, and therefore, the earlier you are diagnosed the more likely you are to be able to manage the infection and lead a healthier life. Today people who are leaving with HIV have a higher quality of life than ever before thanks to medical advancements.
What Happens at the Sauna Clinics
You will be asked for your name and some contact details (this information is strictly confidential and is NOT shared with your GP).
A doctor/nurse will also ask you some questions about you sexual history – what type of sex you have had, whether it has been protected or unprotected, etc.
You will also be asked to give a urine and blood sample. These samples will test for HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Syphilis and Chlamydia (penis only).
Hepatitis A and B vaccinations will be offered.
The doctor will discuss when your results will be ready, as some results can take up to 2 weeks. You will be contacted with results via phone, email or by text – whichever you prefer
Party in the Square Clinic
The same as the above expect that there will be no urine sample just a simple blood test.
The Rainbow Project’s Physical & Sexual Health Worker – Harry McAnulty – will be in attendance at each clinic to answer any questions that you may have. He can also be contacted on (028) 9031 9030 or by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please support the Rainbow Project Clinics – Belfast Pride isn’t just about partying, it is also about serious issues affecting our community!