As part of its sexual health awareness activities, over last weekend arc launched an educational campaign on sexual health primarily focussed on MSM (men who have sex with). Data from the Maltese authorities, analysed by arc showed that sexually acquired infections (SAI) are increasing at an alarming rate on Malta among MSM. For example, newly detected HIV infections are up 57% year-on-year since 2009. (Click here to request a copy of arc's Health Report)
ARC came up with the idea of using Maltese "qwiel, "idjomi" & other popular Maltese expressions, to challenge stigma, perceptions and highlight the importance of testing and safer sex practices. The first advert "Mhux Kulma jleqq hu dheb" (all that glitters is not gold), refers to appearance and reality not always matching. In this case it may appear to ourselves that we are free of SAIs, but because SAIs do not always show symptoms, we may in reality be carrying a pathogen (bacteria or virus). Hence, we advise each of us to test ourselves regularly to know our current status. Testing and knowing one's status only has benefits these days. If the test result is negative, it gives peace of mind. If the test result is positive, today's treatments kill or suppress the infecting pathogen(s), giving a full normal life and stopping further transmission to loved ones/playmates.
From a community perspective, studies show that 9/10 sexually acquired infections are acquired from carriers who do not know their status. To break the transmission chain, it is key that people test regularly, and if have a positive result for an SAI get treatment. Indeed, experts say it is safer to have sex with someone who knows his status and, if positive, is on the appropriate treatment than to have sex with someone who does not know his current status. Please therefore find out your own status and encourage your friends and contacts to do so too.
In the first stage of the campaign arc will be using social media and social apps such as grindr & growlr to pass the message. Please like our page www.facebook.com/arcmalta to view theses memes as they are rolled out.
The educational campaign will be funded by the fund raiser held during the Malta LGBTI Awards 2015.
If you would like to get involved in the SAI work group kindly contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.