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  • Sexual Health Week

The Numbers | End of 2016

  • 1.8 Million New infections
  • 1 Million Annual deaths
  • 36.7 Million Living with HIV
  • 19.5 Million Accessing treatment

In Australia

  • 27,150 Living with HIV
  • 1025 New Infections
  • 2465 Cumulative notifications in WA

Leah Adams

Leah Adams

Friday, 23 February 2018 02:31

Freedom Centre Retreat

Monday, 19 February 2018 07:35

A List of Common STIs

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are infections that are transmitted from one person to another during sexual contact. Some STIs are caused by bacteria and some are caused by viruses. Because of the variety of STIs, symptoms and treatment can be very different. Below you will find information about some common STIs and how you can reduce your risk. It's important to remember that not all STIs have symptoms, or it may be some time before symptoms become visible. If you think you could have an STI find out more about getting testing. You can also download a copy of the Safe Sex No Regrets Booklet. 

 

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection, one of the most common STIs in Australia especially in young people 15-25 years of age. If not treated, Chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause infertility in both men and women. An infected mother can transmit Chlamydia to her baby during birth, causing serious lung and eye infections. 

Transmission

Chlamydia is easily transmitted from vaginal or anal sex without a condom. 

Signs and Symptoms

Chlamydia is often a silent infection, as people may have them and not know and are still able to pass it on. Women may notice a difference in vaginal discharge, have bleeding in between periods or pain during sex. Men may have pain when peeing and a discharge from the penis. 

Testing

Testing for Chlamydia is easy - most of the time you only need to give a urine sample. However, the doctor may request to take vaginal, anal or throat swabs.

Treatment
 


Chlamydia is easily cured with a single dose of antibiotics. Your sexual partner/s will also need treatment so they don't give it back to you or pass it on to someone else. Make an appointment with you local doctor or sexual health clinic for a simple urine test. 

Prevention
  • Chlamydia can be prevented by safe sex practices such as using condoms and water based lubricant. 
  • It's also a good idea for you and your partners to get tested regularly. You can do this at your local GP or at a sexual health clinic.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is caused by a bacterial infection. If left untreated, Gonorrhea can lead to infertility in both men and women. An infected mother can pass Gonorrhea on to her baby during birth, which can cause blindness. 

Transmission

Gonorrhea is easily transmitted from vaginal or anal sex. It can infect the anus and the throat from oral and anal sex, without any symptoms at all. 

Signs and Symptoms

Gonorrhea is often a silent infection, as people may have them and not know and are still able to pass it on. Women may notice a difference in vaginal discharge, have bleeding in between periods or pain during sex. Men may have pain when peeing and a discharge from the penis.

Testing

Testing for Gonorrhea is easy - it only involves a urine test  and / or vaginal, anal or throat swabs. 

Treatment
 


Gonorrhea is easily cured with a single dose of antibiotics. Your sexual partner/s will also need treatment so they don't give it back to you or pass it on to someone else. Make an appointment with you local doctor or sexual health clinic for a simple urine test.

Prevention
  • Gonorrhea can be prevented by safe sex practices such as using condoms and water based lubricant. 
  • It's also a good idea for you and your partners to get tested regularly. You can do this at your local GP or at a sexual health clinic.

Genital Herpes

Genital Herpes is a very common STI caused by a virus. Genital Herpes is like cold sores around the mouth, except the sores are in the genital area. 

Transmission
Genital Herpes is passed on by skin to skin contact with someone who has the infection. This often happens during vaginal, anal or oral sex. However, it can also be passed on without sexual intercourse, because many sexual practices involve genital to genital or skin to skin contact. Herpes can be passed on through aymptomatic shedding. This is where someone has the infection sheds the virus from the skin without knowing it because they don't have any symptoms or aren't aware of them. Both cold sores and genital herpes can be transferred from mouth to genitals. They can also be passed on to other areas such as the buttocks, hands and eyes. 


Signs and Symptoms

Herpes affects people in different ways. Some people may get painful blisters or ulcers and have flu like symptoms when they first get infected. Others may only get a red patch with tiny breaks in the genital skin. Once a person already has herpes they may get recurring outbreaks of the symptoms. Some people may get symptoms before the blisters / ulcers appear like tingling, nerve pain, itching or a general feeling of ill health and irritability. 

Testing

Swabs from the infected area are taken. It is best if the blister or sore is less than four days old. 

Treatment
 


There are tablets that can control Herpes but there is no cure. The tablets should be taken the first time someone catches Herpes to stop the possibility of complications. If a person had many outbreaks they may need to take the medication continuously for a period of time to stop the outbreaks occurring. 

Prevention
  • Genital Herpes can be prevented by safe sex practices such as using condoms and water based lubricant. 
  • It's also a good idea for you and your partners to get tested regularly. You can do this at your local GP or at a sexual health clinic.
  • Avoid kissing or giving unprotected oral sex if you have a cold sore on your lips / mouth. Avoid recieiving unprotected oral sex if your partner has a cold sore on their lips / mouth. 

Genital Warts (HPV)

Genital Warts are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). This virus can lead to cervical cancer and anal cancer. Genital warts can be present anywhere on or in the genitals or anus, and sometimes they can be in the mouth or throat. 

Transmission

HPV and Geital warts are very common in Australia. HPV is passed on by direct skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity. HPV does not always have visible symptoms. You may be carrying the virus and could pass it o to your partner/s. 

Signs and Symptoms

Genital Warts are like the warts you get on the rest of your body. They look like lumps, are sometimes itchy, vut not usually painful. If you find anything unusual, consult your local doctor or secual health clinic. 

Treatment 

There are many treatments availabe that will get rid of the warts. They are avilabke through prescription from your local doctor or sexual health clinic. Do not use lotions made for other types of warts. 

Prevention
  • Even though condoms don't protect you 100%, they certainly help to reduce your chances of catching genital warts.
  • Women should have regular pap smears (every two years) unless advised otherwise by a doctor.
  • A vaccination called Gardasil is now readily available to prevent certain strains of HPV linked to the development of some cancers including cervical, anal and penile cancer lesions. For more information about the vaccination or to discuss your eligibility, contact your local health care professional or GP.

HIV

HIV is a virus that causes damage to the body's immune system. Over time, HIV can develop into AIDS.

Transmission

The HIV virus can be found in semen, vaginal fluids and blood. HIV is usally passed on by anal or vaginal sex without a condom. It is also passed on by sharing drug injecting equipment, piercing or tattooing equipment. It can also be passed on from an infected mother to her baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. 

Signs and Symptoms

Most people with HIV look and feel perfectly healthy. Some people may develop a fever (with swollen glands, night sweats, a rash on the body) in the weeks following the infection. However, many people have no symptoms at all. Some time later, HIV may cause conditions including pneumonia, brain infections, skin cancers, sever fungal infections and many other problems - this is AIDS. 

Testing

HIV is detected by a blood test. The HIV antibodies take time to show up in your blood for up to 3 months after the intial infection. So even if your results are negative, you will need to be tested again in 3 months time. 

Treatment
 


Although we know a lot about HIV and AIDS, there is still no cure or vaccine. Treatments for HIV have improved dramatically in recent years, and many people are able to remain well and live healthy lives. When a person is on regular, appropriate medication, they can reach an undetectable viral load - meaning they can't pass the virus on to anyone else. 

Prevention 
  • Use condoms 
  • Don't sharing drug injecting equipment
  • Get tattoos and piercings at a reputable service - Australian standards are safe, however, overseas standards may not be. Backyard tattoos/ piercings can also pose a risk. 
  • PEP is a medication that you can take over a four week period if you think you have been exposed to HIV, which may prevent you from becoming infected. If you think you may have been exposed, you can call the PEP Line - 1300 767 161. You need to do this as soon as possible and not more than 72 hours after the exposure. 
  • PrEP is a medication that when taken daily, can prevent you from getting HIV. Click here for more information. 
  • U = U, or Undetectable = Untransmissable, means that a person who is HIV positive and is taking the regular, appropriate treatment, they can reach an undetectable viral load, menaing they can't pass the virus on to anyone else. It's important for HIV positive and HIV negative people to be educated around this to prevent further transmission. 

Syphilis

Syphilis is a bacterial infection that can infect the penis, vagina, throat and anus. It can then be spread to different parts of the body through the blood stream. If left untreated, Syphilis can cause damage to the nerves, bones, skin, eyes and brain. If left untreated during pregnancy, the baby can die or be born deformed and unwell. 

Transmission

You can get Syphilis by having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex., or by having direct contact with open sores. It can also be passed from a mother to her unborn baby whilst in the womb. 

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of Syphilis may be so mild that you don't notice them or you may not have any symptoms at all. For some people, a painless sore may appear on the mouth and/or around the genital area. In later stages, a person may have a rash on their upper body, soles of their feet and hands. 

Testing

Syphilis is detected by a blood test, and swabs if there are sores present. 

Treatment
 


Syphilis is treated with antibiotics, normally injected.

Prevention 

  • Syphilis can be prevented by practicing safe sex
  • Avoid contact with any sores and rashes, especially if having oral sex. 

Monday, 19 February 2018 07:01

Safe Sex No Regrets!

What is safe sex? 

Safe sex means doing things that will reduce your risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI), or an unplanned preganancy, and where you and your sexual partner/s feel safe and comfortable. Safe sex means using condoms and water based lubricants as well as a range of other things you can do during sex to help reduce the risk of catching or passing on STIs or HIV. 

Why have safe sex? 

Safe sex is the best way of protecting you and your sexual partner/s from STIs, including HIV. Remember that you can have an STI and not show any symptoms, but still pass them on to other people. There are very good reasons why sexually active people need to practice safe sex including:

  • You can't tell whether someone has an STI based on how they look, dress, behave or who they have slept with.
  • Practicing safe sex provides you with peace of mind.
  • Thinking 'it won't happen to me' provies no protection.
  • Some STIs are quite common and using condoms will reduce the risk on an infection.
  • People with HIV or STIs often don't know they are infected. 
  • STIs and HIV exist in all countries and cultures and can affect anyone. 
  • Condom and water based lubricants are easy to use and prevent STI and HIV transmission.
  • Safe sex protects you from unintended pregnancies.

What STIs could I get from unsafe sex? 

Chlamydia, genital warts, herpes and gonorrhoea are the most common sexually transmitted infections causing genital symptoms. Hepatitis B, HIV and syphilis can also be transmitted sexually. In addition, pubic lice (crabs), scabies, and other less common infections can also be sexually transmitted. Click here to learn about each STI; transmission, signs and symptoms, treatment and prevention. 

How can I protect myself from STIs?

(Male) Condoms

You can reduce your chance of infection greatly by using a condom. To find out more about condoms and how to use them, click here. 

(Female) Condoms

The female condom is an alternative to the male condom as an effective barrier to STIs during vaginal and anal sex. They:

  • are designed to fit all women and suitable for all ages
  • can be used during menstruation
  • are made of polyurethane, not latex, and is pre-lubricated with a silicone based lubricant. People who are allergic to the latex used in male condoms or to the ingredients in water-based lubricants can use it. Oil based lubricants can also be used with the female condom.
  • can be inserted well in advance of sexual penetration if preferred.
  • conduct heat, so sex can feel more sensitive.
  • Can't be used with a male condom, because this can cause the female condom to move out of place or the male condom to slip off. 

Safe Oral Sex

Oral sex is less risky when it comes to getting or transmitting an infection, but some STIs can still be passed on through oral sex. To be as safe as possible: 

  • use condoms (try flavoured ones) for oral sex involving the penis
  • use dental dams for oral-vaginal and oral-anal sex
  • don't get semen or blood in your mouth
  • avoid oral sex when you have mouth ulcers, bleeding gums or cold sores
  • don't brish your teeth immediatley before oral sex

Using Dental Dams

A dental dam (or oral dam) is a very thin rectangular "satin-like" piece of latex. It gets its name from the protective shield dentists use during oral surgery. 
Dental dams will reduce the risk of transmission of many STIs including HIV, but are not 100% effective. 

While the thought of using a sheet of latex during oral sex may seem strange, dental dams are easy to use and don't decrease sensation during oral sex. 

Other ways to prevent STIs and HIV are: 

A Note on the Contraceptive Pill

The birth control pill, like most of the other contraceptive methods, prevents unplanned pregnancies, but does not protect against STIs. A sexually active person should always use a condom during sexual contact (vaginal intercourse, oral sex and anal intercourse) to reduce the chances of getting an STI. Click here to read more about contraceptive options. 

Wednesday, 14 February 2018 01:29

In Defense of Porn

 

Valentine’s Day is upon us, and the ubiquitous centre for free erotic video, Porn Hub, has once again offered its premium service at no cost for the day. While teenage boys around the world rejoice, create memes and tag their friends on social media; others want to take the opportunity to spruik a message of impending doom and eternal damnation.

Pornography is blamed for many ills in our society, from addiction, to divorce and domestic violence, a rise in cosmetic labia surgery, even death. But is it really to blame? Has the introduction of the internet to the mainstream, and with it, unlimited porn in the palm of our hands (cough, cough), started the downfall of society? Or is it just another vice, in the same vein as alcohol, illicit drugs and gambling, that most can comfortably compartmentalise within their life and enjoy in moderation, without any short or long-term effects?

Porn has existed for as long as humans were able to record images, from cave paintings; to Roman artifacts; to that third century sexual bible, the Karma Sutra. The minute a technology is invented, the porn industry finds a way to use it for our gratification. In half a century, we’ve progressed from visiting a cinema, to mail-order VHS video, patiently waiting for images on dial-up internet, to high quality HD streaming on our mobile phones, and now to first person Virtual Reality ‘in the round’. While there’s no doubt the way we now consume porn has influenced the way it is made, blaming it for all of society’s problems is an overreach (around…sorry!).

Hand held devices allow for porn consumption at any opportune moment and this, combined with our lack of desire to pay for porn, has led to a drastic reduction in production value. The storylines and dialogue have mainly gone, but are we really upset about that? Do we really long for the days of wooden acting, bad lighting and worse dialogue? And who sat through those parts anyway, once we had remote controls? We live in a fast-paced world, where efficiency is king, and besides, if we want to watch terrible acting and mildly arousing sex scenes, there’s always 50 Shades of Grey.

The reach of porn is global and all encompassing. In 2009, Canadian researchers attempting to measure the impact of porn couldn’t find anyone in their 20’s who hadn’t seen porn to act as a control group. Porn Hub’s own (and fascinating) annual statistical insights suggest 81 million users visit the site daily and download around 118 gigabytes of video per second. If we are all watching it, then are we all addicted, changing our brains’ functioning, destroying our families and warping our view of sex, as conservatives would have us believe?

One group in regional New South Wales is on a mission to remove pornography from their town altogether, using some very (old and) dubious research to argue a long list of evils they directly correlate with porn use. Further investigation reveals the group’s leader as the sister of former Australian Christian Lobby chief Lyle Shelton, the dictionary definition of a person using discredited ‘evidence’ to make outrageous and simply false claims to suit a regressive narrative.  

The group use the often-quoted research that claimed 88% of all pornography includes acts of violence against women, perpetrated by men. Obviously, this figure is not accurate, uses very liberal definitions of ‘violence’, uses a small sample size of videos (actual, physical videos, not downloads) and has been discredited as many times as it has been quoted. Violence in porn does exist, that is not disputed, nor is it acceptable (where there is no consent), but depictions of consensual BDSM scenes are not the same as actual violence against women.

Further to this, hardcore heterosexual sex is only one of hundreds of porn genres now available, and it is nowhere near the most popular. In its 10 years of existence, Porn Hub’s most popular category remains ‘Lesbian’ - porn without men by definition, and therefore, highly unlikely to show any male-to-female violence. The second most popular category is MILF, or 'Mother I’d Like to Fuck', a genre which typically shows an older* woman showing a younger man how a dominant, confident woman has sex. In 2017, Porn Hub claims the most searched-for term was ‘Porn for Women’, a genre known for softer, more romantic sex, with a greater focus on more realistic female pleasure.

(*The MILF category can depict any female who doesn’t look like a teenager!)

One of the internet’s first major porn sites 'The Hun', one of the biggest until tube sites like Porn Hub came along, daily updates its content of (mostly) still images and allows visitors to rate their favourite galleries. Routinely, the most popular are ‘solo’, or single females posing for the camera and/or masturbating.

If we are not even watching porn involving men, how can it be blamed for male-on-female violence in real world sex?

A rise in young women under 25 requesting cosmetic labia surgery is often blamed on porn consumption. Airbrushed images and pressure to look like porn stars is supposedly sending young women to the clinic for a nip here and a tuck there. Assessing the size and legitimacy of this ‘epidemic’ is one thing, but let’s assume for a moment that it is a problem.

Australian censors do, in error, require publishers of printed pornography to airbrush the labia of women portrayed to look like a Barbie doll, with no internal labia or the clitoris visible. This is of course, hugely problematic in itself, but the question remains – how many women under 25 in Australia are buying and reading printed pornography? Are there female uni students really grabbing a copy of People magazine with their drinks and petrol at the service station? Clearly internet-based video is how we are consuming porn.

Airbrushing is all but impossible in low budget video productions, and is not required of international producers (where most of the films that Australian’s watch are made). The aforementioned most popular galleries at The Hun, regularly feature natural or ‘hairy’* vulvas, and celebrate a wide variety of labia shapes and sizes. Inadequate sex education is more to blame here than porn.

(*'Hairy' can mean anything other than a full Brazilian, through to a full 70’s style bush.)

If one was to suggest it is the partners of these young women who are pressuring them to request surgery because of the porn they consume, then a) it is only readers of Australian printed pornography – a small and declining audience, b) the porn viewing statistics disagree with that statement and c) they are shitty partners.

Bad porn exists. Anything filmed and/or released without the consent of all parties to everything that happens within the film is wrong. Remember ‘revenge porn’ is not porn, it is sexual assault. Watching porn gives us a dopamine hit which CAN be addictive, in the same way some drugs, video games and poker machines do. Watching too much porn CAN affect erectile function, relationships and is obviously not suitable for young children. There is some evidence to suggest regular users feel the need for more intense stimulation to achieve the same effect. However, this can be reset. Take some time away from porn and the Big W catalogue looks sexy. The key here is ‘can’, not ‘does’. Many people drink alcohol, or place bets, without ever becoming addicted or needing more and more. It is perfectly plausible to watch porn by yourself and maintain a happy and healthy sex life. Heck, many couples watch porn together, exploring ideas and fantasies to recreate or enjoy from a distance.

Good porn also exists. More and more women are creating high quality and respectful porn, often with real couples showing genuine chemistry and connection. Women like Cindy Gallop, who quit her job to build Make Love Not Porn, a game-changer for the industry, where real world couples upload their own films for others to rent. Australian porn performer Madison Missina is campaigning for Australia’s censorship laws, which not only require labia to be airbrushed, but prohibit the depiction of female ejaculation (i.e. female pleasure) to be overturned. Porn is not the problem, but how it is viewed by conservatives is.

The reality is, porn is a fantasy. It is readily available, many people enjoy it, some as an aid to masturbation, some out of curiosity. Porn can help people find likeminded others, and feel less shame or guilt about their (legal) kinks. Others can live out fantasies without leaving the house or telling anyone, and of course, in terms of STIs, masturbation is the safest sex of all!

Like other vices, porn exists. Always has, always will. What is necessary for young people – for all people – is porn literacy. Total bans, age verification tools and censorship does not work. Teaching respect, critical viewing, full and comprehensive sex education and treating it as purely a fantasy, will.

Matt Ranford
Marketing & Communications Coordinator 

Monday, 12 February 2018 03:16

Apply for a Grant for WA Sexual Health Week

Grant Applications for 2018 now CLOSED  

The WA Sexual Health Week Committee will provide a Community Small Grants Scheme to enable Health Promotion Officers, Public and Community Health Nurses, Aboriginal Health Workers and other relevant personnel at youth-oriented organisations in regional/remote WA with financial assistance to run a small project to coincide with WA Sexual Health Week. For further information, or to receive a copy of the WA Sexual Health Week Grant Application please contact Alicia King at the WA AIDS Council via email aking@waaids.com or telephone (08) 9482 0000.

Aims and Objectives

The aim of WA Sexual Health Week 2018 is to create an enabling environment for the WA community to improve their sexual health, through community engagement and collaborative partnerships.

Any grant applications would need to indicate which of the following objectives relate to the short community project:

  • Improving the acceptability of safer sex behaviour in target populations
  • Promoting the negotiation of safer sex with casual and regular partners within target populations
  • Decreasing the prevalence of STIs and blood-borne viruses (BBVs) and the burden of disease attributable to STIs and BBVs within the community
  • Reducing the shame and stigma associated with STIs and BBVs
  • Providing sexual health information, education and resources to target populations, including knowledge of available sexual health services
  • Improve health seeking behaviour to increase testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections

Grant applications do not need to meet all objectives.

To go onto the grant application distribution list for 2019, to order your FREE safer sex packs (condom and lubrication sachet) or for further information about WA Sexual Health Week events, activities or for any general sexual health information you can contact the WA Sexual Health Week Committee via Alicia King at the WA AIDS Council on aking@waaids.com or 9482 0000

Case Studies 

The case studies below may offer inspiration for your grant application, since they were the successful grant recipients from WA Sexual Health Week in previous years:

2016:

Pingelly - Youth & Sexual Health Program
Bunbury - Quiz

2015:

Albany - Out There
Wheatbelt - Boodjari Yogas High Tea
Bunbury - Am I Normal? 
Pilbara - Quiz
Pingelly - Youth & Sexual Health Program
Wheatbelt - Safety, Pleasure, Respect
Kalgoorlie - WACHS SHAK Roadshow 
Wheatbelt - Sexual Health Week
Kimberley - Strong Mind Healthy Body

2014:

Denmark - Health Hubs Youth Forum
Bunbury - Dumb Ways to get an STI!
Kimberley - Youth Forums
Midwest - Playing Safe
Pilbara - Safe Choices
Carnarvon - Sexual Health Outreach on the Streets
Kimberley - Strong Minds Healthy Bodies 

2013:

Carnarvon - Sexual Health Week
Kalgoorlie - Love SHAK
Walpole - Community Market Stall
Wheatbelt - Love, Respect & Other Things
Kimberley - Strong Minds, Healthy Bodies
Roebourne - Sexual Health Outreach
Wheatbelt - Making Contact: Text 2 Test! 

 

Premise: This article is written from my personal experience. In no way, shape or form do I speak for the same sex attracted population as a whole, and nor have I been exposed to every heterosexual experience that exists. These are just my personal experiences and observations as a gay man. 

One of the things that I have always found so entertaining when talking with my heterosexual friends, is the comments that they make about how fun dating and being single in the gay world must be. They talk about apps like Grindr that give us “sex on tap” or that “you’re gay, you're allowed to date numerous people” or my personal favourite, “girls don’t just want to have sex, they are always looking for a relationship”. I find these comments interesting - it seems that there is this belief that somewhere in the act of coming out, gays reach this state of sexual enlightenment that allows us to have increased communication in a frank and honest way. To an extent, I agree with this, in the sense that a proportion of the population see same sex attraction as something of a taboo, or that it is not the “normal” sexual practice. So because of this, gays said "F**k it, let’s liberate ourselves from a world where it isn’t appropriate to talk about being gay and a world that often discourages us from talking openly about sex". The part I don’t agree with, is that this is only something that is developed during a “coming out” or from an interaction with same sex attracted people. I personally think that negotiation and communication when it comes to sex are skills that can be learnt and adapted by everyone, so that sex and relationships are clear and enjoyable for everyone. So, here are my three lessons on dating for heterosexuals:

Negotation

Now I know what you’re thinking - "How dare this guy! I know how to negotiate! We have to choose movies and what to get on Uber Eats all the time..." I don't doubt you have negotiation skills, but I'm sure all of us should strive to improve our negotiation skills around sex. Why? So that we get the sex that we want! To premise this point, I will explain the reason that gay and bisexual men, including men that are attracted to other men (GBM) have learnt this a little faster than heterosexuals in general. It is quite simple when you think about it, but it has everything to do with tops (the partner that penetrates) and bottoms (the partner that is penetrated). Unlike our heterosexual counterparts, there is not an innate belief or understanding of which partner is the one getting penetrated and which is the one doing the penetration. This simple act of sexual negotiation is required because nothing kills the mood like two guys getting together and then realising you both wanted to be the top / bottom. And sure, lots of guys are "vers" (happy to do either), but even in those situations, there is a conversation that needs to be had around that. I think it's funny that just because some people have a vagina and others have a penis, it determines what will occur. Like, why not ask the question of “are we gonna have sex or are you just looking for oral?”

Talking about the sex you want to have 

Let's talk about the sex you want to have, then apply our negotiating skills. One of the things I love about apps is the opportunity it allows to discuss my sexual likes and interests before being face to face with someone. I can get on Grindr and say, "I love being licked, touched and bitten on my neck, cheek, nipple etc." This way, I know that if things advance further, I am far more likely to have great sex. If I didn't communicate this, they would have no idea what I liked and they would have to wing it. Dirty talk is great for this, but I think we need to get beyond “dirty talk” because:

1) You aren’t saying anything "dirty", you are explaining what you get pleasure from  - nothing dirty about that!

2) Often dirty talk is about trying to turn a partner on, or saying what someone wants to hear as foreplay. This can be confusing - do they actually like "xyz" and want to do that, or did they just say that to get me turned on...? For example, it is very infrequent that people would dirty talk putting condoms on right? It would be far more likely people would be saying "I’ll lick you here and slide inside you". Even though they might say this, it doesn’t mean they are necessarily wanting condomless sex. It just sounds appealing. You need to get clear on what is just 'dirty talk' and what is the 'reality' of the situation. 


Relationship Status

While we are on the topic of communication, I also don’t understand that when my heterosexual friends have started dating, there seems to be this belief that after x amounts of dates, they are monogamous and aren’t still sleeping with or dating other people. GBM seem to have a lot of relationship marker terms for dating. There is a conversation about whether or not to go official, monogamous or to go official but stay open. That is a conversation that I have had with all of my partners, yet with my straight friends it's like:

Friend: “Well yeah, we aren’t sleeping with other people anymore”

Me: “So, you talked about it?” 

Friend: “...No, but like, we have been on 3 dates...” 

Me: *facepalm* 

 So there you have it, these are the biggest differences I have noticed from discussion with my friends about dating in different communities. The key to any good relationship is communication and negotiation, so get talking! Normalise discussing what you are looking for and what you want, both sexually and in a partner. Happy dating people! 

Matt Bacon
Health Promotion Officer - Gay Men

 

Thursday, 08 February 2018 06:48

Let's Talk About Sex (Baby!)

Happy Sexual Health Week 2018!

As the Youth Officer at WAAC, part of my role involves talking to young people about sex (woohoo!) For many people though (especially parents) just the thought of talking to a young person about sex is enough to cause them to break out in a cold sweat!

Talking about sex is so important – we want our young people to know that they can come to us for advice and support; it can be a platform to strengthen our relationships, build trust, share our values, and ensure our young people are getting balanced and accurate information.

To celebrate WA’s Sexual Health Week, I’ve put together some tips to help parents and carers speak with their young people about sex in a positive and supportive way.

Enjoy!

ü Consider your own values, attitudes and feelings about sex – For example, do you have particular cultural or religious beliefs? Are you in a same-sex relationship or perhaps a single parent?  What values and messages do you want to pass on?

ü Be open and non-judgemental - Remember not all of our opinions and experiences are the same. Try not to make assumptions (for example, assuming a young person is heterosexual). Refer the young person to speak with someone else if you feel unable to listen and speak without judgement. 

ü Knowledge is power – Educate yourself on current sexual issues and topics such as masturbation, homosexuality, contraception, pornography etc.

ü Stick to the facts – Avoid scare tactics and provide accurate information. Be honest if you don’t know something; try to find out, or help them to find out for themselves.

ü Use the correct language – Using accurate and consistent language (penis, vulva, scrotum etc.) helps to avoid confusion.

ü Start the conversation early – Simple routines such as bathing or using the toilet can provide the opportunity to introduce topics like nudity and privacy.

ü Lots of little conversations, often – Rather than a single ‘birds and bees’ talk, speak with your young person regularly.

ü Take advantage of opportunities – Don’t wait for your young person to bring up the topic of sex or sexuality. TV shows or current media can provide opportunities to open the conversation. Are you watching ‘Married at First Sight’ or ‘The Bachelor’? Take the opportunity to discuss what a healthy relationship may look like.

ü Keep it positive – Avoid using too many DON’T conversations. Instead, role model positive behaviour and self-respect for your young person. Sex and sexuality is fun! Be genuine and be prepared to have a giggle.

Any questions? Want to discuss things further? Contact ewheatley@waaids.com

 

Eden Wheatley 
Health Promotion Officer - Youth Programs 

Monday, 05 February 2018 03:46

U=U Forum in March

Monday, 05 February 2018 02:53

Occasional Impotence and the myth of potency

 

Most us have experienced those occasions when we are in bed with our partners, lovers, or casual hook ups, feeling horny - or at least we thought we were horny, except nothing is stirring! It is like that Dickensian story – “it is the night of Christmas and nothing is stirring….” Except it is 5 minutes before sex and we need more than a stirring, we need the co-operation of our penises to rise to attention, be hard, hot, horny and perform!

Intellectually, we know we are more than our sexual performance, yet at an emotional level, our sense of ourselves as men is often linked to a sense of potency, which is interpreted as our ability to perform. 

This Sexual Health Week, while a great opportunity to remember the importance of getting a sexual health check-ups, it's important to note that sexual health isn’t just about STI’s and using condoms. Sexual health is also about how we think about sex.

In the example I gave above about not performing, how does it make us feel or think about ourselves when we are in those situations? What is our self-talk? Do we berate ourselves because we are flaccid and aren’t hard? Do we worry about our “manhood”? Or do we have the grace and sense of humour to laugh at the situation and ourselves? 

I must stress at the outset, I am not speaking here of impotence which arises from medical conditions such as prostate cancer and requires medical invention and assistance. Although even in these situations, medical practitioners recognise the psychological impact on men and their sense of self-worth. What I'm talking about here confines itself to those more occasional situations where we can’t perform. As we age or get into more stressful positions in our work, the likelihood of such times occurring increases. 

In these days of Viagra, it is easy to dismiss what I am saying. Perhaps, it is a generalisation, but a majority of us have probably used Viagra at some stage, not because we need to, but because we are anxious that we may require it. It is easier to take one than deal with those uncomfortable situations where we could be accused of being a “dud root”. Yet, using Viagra or other medical supplements often over-rides the inherent wisdom of our bodies. The wisdom that sometimes our bodies don’t want to perform sexually, but simply want the safety of being held.

My partner, his friend and I, were having a discussion the other night about hook ups. Their view, as younger men for whom English is a second language, is that transactional sex is simple. Send pictures, if the pictures make you horny, hook up, have sex, and then in more polite terms, “get lost”.

I admire the simplicity of the equation, yet I am left wondering if as men we use sex for those deeper longings that we struggle to admit we have. Longings for intimacy, to be held, to be seen, to feel safe, not to perform. I reflect on the men I have met and how often the best sex is after orgasm where having got it out of the way we are more prepared to admit we just want to be held, to experience the warmth of a naked body next to us, to be held, to rest next to each other in open simplicity.

Yes, it can be fun being a dominant top or a sub bottom, or even a power bottom, but I wonder….I wonder how much of our "pnp", how much of our role playing, how much of our taking Viagra etc. isn’t just a cover for the fact that we want the simple pleasure of being held, naked and possibly vulnerable, the simple pleasure of a slow long kiss and that moment when we can look into the eyes of another man be it our partner, lover or hook up and simply say hello. The pleasure of intimacy without performance. 

Sexual health can be about the courage to be honest about our need to be held, to be intimate without the pressure to perform. If we can find that courage, then those occasions where we don’t ‘perform’ is simply an opportunity to experience other aspects of our sexuality and personality, rather than an experience of failure of who we think we have to be.

 

David Kernohan
CEO

Friday, 02 February 2018 08:37

SiREN Symposium 2018

 

17-18 May 2018
Bentley, Western Australia

The third biennial SiREN Symposium will bring together West Australian practitioners, clinicians, researchers and policy makers with an interest in sexual health and blood borne virus (SHBBV) issues. The Symposium will provide opportunities to: connect with others in the SHBBV sector; learn about the latest projects and research; and build skills in research, evaluation and knowledge translation.

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS NOW OPEN!

Abstracts are now invited from health professionals, practitioners, students, policy makers, researchers and clinicians working in the SHBBV sector.

Abstracts should correspond to one of the Symposium themes:

  1. CONNECT: Collaborations and partnerships within the SHBBV sector, OR makes connections between evidence, policy and practice.
  2. LEARN: Projects presenting research or evaluation results and new evidence.
  3. APPLY: Presentations from practitioners and Stories from the Field.

Abstract submission closes 28 February 2018.

You can find more information about the Symposium and the abstract submission process here. Abstract writing support is available from siren@curtin.edu.au.

We particularly encourage abstracts from those who may not have presented before and those working in regional or rural areas. Regional and rural participants may be eligible for travel grants to attend the Symposium, for more information please download the travel grants flyer.

Registration will be opening soon. To sign up to the SiREN Network, email siren@curtin.edu.au with SUBSCRIBE in the heading for regular Symposium and other updates from the SiREN Team. 

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