Sexual health experts are supporting Belfast Pride, to make sure that everyone taking part in this year’s festival; ‘plays safe and stays safe’. Gay and bisexual men are at particular risk of sexually transmitted infections; latest available statistics from the department of health reveal that rates of gonorrhoea and syphilis in Northern Ireland’s MSM continue to soar.
To tackle the problem, Belfast Pride has teamed up with Confidante, who have developed the world’s only home test, to detect 10 common STIs. Stephen Henderson, Manager at Confidante, says partnering with Belfast Pride, is about, encouraging men who have sex with men to take action:
“One of the reasons that men who have sex with men, have such high STI transmission rates, is because they don’t get tested; perhaps they’ve had a bad experience previously; or perhaps they aren’t showing any symptoms – even though they are infected; many STIs are asymptomatic. We are encouraging MSM and everyone taking part in Belfast Pride to be proud of their sexual health, protect both their partner and themselves and to get tested.”
Seán Ó Néill, Chair of Belfast Pride Festival, is supporting this focus on Sexual Health:
“This year’s festival is about celebrating Diversity and calling for Equality – and this equality is needed within healthcare services for all citizens including LGBTQ people. We are pleased Confidante is coming on board as a partner of the festival and offering more choice in Sexual Health testing and we are working with them to get the message across to the MSM community in Northern Ireland, in particular, to play safe and stay safe”.
The safe sexual health message comes ahead of today’s Belfast Pride Parade, 30 thousand people are expected into the city centre to take part in the event.