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HomeNew ZealandSex Outside the City campaign targets queer rural men for health check-ups

Sex Outside the City campaign targets queer rural men for health check-ups

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Many GPs presumed most rural men were straight and might not offer them a rectal swab.
Photo: 123rf.com

A new campaign, Sex Outside the City, is encouraging queer men in rural areas to get sexual health check-ups.

The wellbeing movement wants to ensure LGBTQIA+ and takatāpui people see themselves represented in health messaging, while getting some key info across.

Its new billboard in New Plymouth encourages queer men to get regular rectal swabs as part of STD tests, to check for common diseases like gonorrhoea and chlamydia, which often show no symptoms.

Project lead Josh McCormack said the billboard showed two men holding hands.

“The imagery of the billboard depicts a celebration of affection between two rural men, standing before Mount Taranaki, with their faces not shown, but also in the classic flannels, a Swanndri, gumboots, things like that.

“We’re hoping that by representing the rural men that we know and love from Taranaki, we’re hoping that they’ll see themselves in the health promotion, and hopefully feel more engaged with the message.”

McCormack said many GPs presumed most rural men were straight and might not offer them a rectal swab.

“Currently, what we’re seeing, the evidence worldwide suggests that rectal gonorrhoea or chlamydia transmission is heightened among queer men,” he said.

“One of the biggest drivers that is allowing that to continue is the fact that men who have sex with men are not being offered rectal swabs.

“International evidence suggests that greater than 60 percent of gonorrhoea or chlamydia cases are getting missed in queer men when a rectal swab is not offered and only urine regular genital testing is performed.”

Research showed about half of the gay and bisexual men in Aotearoa were not ‘out’ to their GPs and could be missing out on vital sexual health checks as a result, he said.

“One of the greatest challenges that we experience is trying to get support or education into regional rural spaces that is affirming for queer people or that is safe and specific to the needs of queer people has proven to be a really difficult task.”

McCormack said Taranaki had a sobering history: New Plymouth Prison was used primarily to house people convicted of homosexual offences from 1917 to 1952.

And the first person to die from AIDs in New Zealand was a Taranaki resident in 1984, two years before homosexuality was decriminalised.

Story Credit: rnz.co.nz

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