Sexual health on the agenda at the Outburst Festival
The Public Health Agency (PHA) is working with the organisers of this year’s Outburst Queer Arts Festival to promote important information about protecting and promoting sexual health.
The ninth annual festival, which launches tomorrow [12 November], includes film, theatre performances, and visual art celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
One of the key themes of this year’s festival is HIV. The PHA launched a media campaign earlier this year, ‘Choose to protect yourself – always use a condom’, and the festival is a good opportunity to highlight the campaign and message. The campaign is aimed at improving and protecting people’s sexual health and wellbeing.
Northern Ireland had the largest proportional increase in new HIV diagnoses anywhere in the UK between 2000 and 2013, and the overall number of people here living with the condition has almost doubled over the past decade.
Of the new diagnoses of HIV in Northern Ireland in 2013, 57% occurred in men who have sex with men (MSM).
Dr Louise Herron, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at the PHA, said: “The Outburst festival provides an excellent platform to get key messages out about looking after our sexual health.
“By having unprotected sex, you could effectively be sleeping with everyone your partner’s ever slept with, putting yourself at risk of getting HIV or another STI.
“The ‘Choose to protect yourself – always use a condom’ campaign aims to promote good sexual health and contribute to reducing STIs in Northern Ireland.
“We are delighted that Outburst 2015 has chosen raising awareness of HIV as one of its key themes, and that we are able to support the festival and help get these key public health messages out as widely as possible over the period of the festival.”
Ruth McCarthy Creative Director with Outburst said:
“Despite huge advances in HIV and AIDS research and medication, there is still massive stigma around the virus and for those who are HIV positive. This often means that education opportunities to raise awareness around the virus can be limited. We are delighted to be working with PHA and Queen's University to get health and well-being messages out there through the arts during the festival this year."
For information on looking after your sexual health, symptoms of STIs (as well as information on STIs which may be symptomless) and details of Northern Ireland GUM clinics, visit www.sexualhealthni.info
For further information on the Outburst Queer Arts Festival see www.outburstarts.com