Cowboys and Condoms!

Alisha OstbergBlog, Gay Men, harm reduction, HEAT, prevention, safer sex

Condom on your Cowboy Poster 2014YAH HOO!

It is that time of year again. The cow folk are restless, the city is in anticipation with business and corporate sectors prepping the multitudes of pancake breakfasts and other Stampede celebration events throughout the city.

Yes, Stampede 2014 is just around the corner and the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth brings some of the best concerts, events, parties and moments of passion that may not always include the best personal health choices.

As part of the Calgary Coalition on HIV/AIDS’s ongoing efforts to educate and inform on the facts about HIV/STI prevention and transmission messaging and testing resources to community, our annual “Condom Your Cowboy” campaign is gearing up to be part of the celebrations within the community.

Members of Coalition along with enthusiastic volunteers will be approaching local bars, restaurants, party buses and businesses throughout the city to deliver our posters and safer sex packs wherever they are wanted. Over the years we have continued to increase the number of locations wanting these items including the great success last year of having the poster screened in the Nashville North Party Tent on the Stampede Grounds.

Although HIV has moved into the realm of being considered and chronic and manageable disease where an HIV positive person can be expected to live a full life time when on appropriate treatments, care and support, the fact remains that STIGMA, DISCRIMINATION and JUDGEMENT for many living with HIV/AIDS is still well entrenched in general society.

Living with HIV may have become more manageable and treatable however the many underlying factors such as adherence to daily pills, living with potential side effects and the ongoing challenges around disclosure and criminalization of HIV should make it something everyone would take every effort to avoid; and it IS possible through proper safer sex practices, knowing your HIV and STI status and being tested regularly if sexually active.

There are fewer people living with AIDS in Canada today however the rates of new HIV infections continue to rise in all populations and demographics. Some groups may have higher rates than others however that does not mean a person is immune to potential exposure and transmission of HIV and other STI’s.

So this Stampede; think about yourself and the people you love and connect with. Keep your wits about you during a time of great parties, alcohol consumption and celebrations and protect yourself and others from possible HIV and STI exposure and or transmission. Grab a condom pack, share our “Condom your Cowboy” message with friends and colleagues and have a Safe, Healthy and Fun Stampede 2014.

Get Tested, Know your Status!