The heritage-listed Hyde Park Obelisk, situated at the intersection of Elizabeth and Bathurst Streets in Sydney’s CBD, will be sheathed by the giant hot pink condom for a week to help raise awareness among gay men about how they can help end HIV transmission in NSW by 2020. In addition to the towering condom, safe sex ambassadors will be on hand offering passers-by free condoms as well as information about the health benefits of ‘staying safe’.
Commissioned by ACON, the installation is the climax of the I’M ON safe sex education campaign that ACON has been promoting for the last three weeks on the streets of Sydney and across gay, mainstream and social media.
ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill says while new drugs are starting to provide other means of protection against HIV, condoms remain central to the fight against HIV because they remain one of the most effective ways of preventing HIV transmission.
“The need for gay men to ‘stay safe’ by using condoms is at the core of NSW’s strategy for eliminating HIV transmission by the end of the decade,” says Mr Parkhill. “We won’t be able to achieve this goal unless gay men use condoms when they’re having high-risk sex with casual partners, particularly in situations where a partner’s HIV status isn’t known – it’s that simple.”
“We need to constantly find new ways to promote this message, especially in the lead up to World AIDS Day on December 1. This installation is sure to create lots of interest as we’ve selected a very visible icon in a high traffic area. We’re hoping to turn lots of heads as well as raise a few eyebrows, not only here on the street but also on social media where the reach of the campaign will be expanded throughout NSW and beyond.”
Mr Parkhill says that while condom use among gay men in NSW is high – around 44% report always using condoms when having sex with casual partners – research from the University of NSW’s Centre for Social Research in Health indicates the number of gay men not always using a condom during casual encounters has increased by about 20% over the last 15 years.
“So clearly there’s a need for more education about condoms and safe sex in our community, and our I’M ON campaign aims to do exactly that,” Mr Parkhill says. “Importantly, it builds on the success we’ve had so far with our award-winning ENDING HIV initiative and we hope it will encourage gay men to use condoms and practice safe sex, not only in terms of their health, but for the bigger cause of ending HIV transmission.”
The giant pink condom will be in place until Wednesday 12 November 2014. For more information, visit: www.acon.org.au for details.
Image: Pink Condom with safe sex ambassadors – photo by Mohammad Rassa (The Newsroom)