Mardi Gras Partygoers Urged To Play Safe
28 February 2011
People attending Mardi Gras celebrations in Sydney this weekend are being urged to join in, have fun and play safe.
ACON - NSW's and Australia's largest community-based gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) health and HIV/AIDS organisation - is advising revellers to look after themselves and each other in relation to HIV, sexual health, street safety, and alcohol and other drugs.
ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill says an important part of enjoying Mardi Gras is caring about the health and welfare of yourself and others.
"Mardi Gras is all about celebrating who we are and having a great time doing it. " Mr Parkhill says. "Playing safe will help partygoers have a much more enjoyable Mardi Gras experience."
"Firstly, we're urging gay men to help prevent the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmissible infections (STIs) by using condoms and water-based lube wherever and whenever they're having sex with casual partners. It's the most effective way to stay safe and with 40,000 free ACON condom packs available at major GLBT venues and events during Mardi Gras, it's also the easiest and most convenient method.
"If you think you may have been at risk of getting an STI, it's important to get tested at a general practice or sexual health service as soon as possible. Regular testing for HIV and other STIs is an essential part of maintaining good sexual health, not to mention peace of mind.
"If gay men do test positive for STIs, it's important that they take time out from sex until the infection is cleared to ensure that it's not passed on to others in the community. It's also important for young same-sex attracted women to be aware of the need to play safe and be informed about sexual health."
Mr Parkhill says keeping safe on the street is also important. "Statistics from our Anti-Violence Project show that incidents of street-based homophobic violence increase around Mardi Gras. To avoid violence, we recommend that partygoers travel to and from venues with friends, travel in taxis if they're alone and that they cover up their party clothes or get changed at the venue to avoid being a target.
"All violence and harassment should be reported to police for immediate action or to ACON's Anti-Violence Project because if the level and types of violence are on the public record, then agencies such as ACON can lobby for improved security for our community."
Mr Parkhill says reducing the harms associated with alcohol and other drugs is the third way to play safe. "Whatever substances people use, they should know what they're taking to avoid harmful interactions and know their limits and stick to them. It's important to tell someone they trust about what they've taken, and to support each other and get help immediately if it's needed.
"The ACON Rovers will be at The Harbour Party, Mardi Gras Party and Toybox to help people who are experiencing any difficulties as a result of using alcohol or other drugs. People can also visit www.partysafely.org.au for information and advice about partying safely."
For more information about looking after each other during Mardi Gras, check out the Wherever Sex Happens and Speak Up campaigns on the ACON website: www.acon.org.au
For more information or to arrange an interview or photo opportunity, please contact us.
Contact: Andrew Hamadanian, Media and Communications Officer, ACON
Tel: (02) 9206 2044
Mobile: 0419 555 768