Health4Men, a project run by the Anova Health Institute, has erected a groundbreaking billboard in Khayelitsha, promoting responsible sexual behaviour among men who have sex with men (MSM).

The 6×3 meter advert depicts a man with his arm around his male partner looking into the distance.

It urges: “Respect yourself. Respect your partner. You are worth it.”

While Mr. Gay World recently boasted the first-ever gay billboard in South Africa, to promote the event on a Johannesburg highway, the Health4Men billboard is a first in that it is message-based and is located in a township.

Health4Men Programme Manager Glenn de Swardt told Mambaonline that the billboard has been placed at the Site C taxi rank to specifically target township-dwelling MSM.

“We paid much attention to the concept, the design, the models and styling plus the copy in an attempt to avoid any potential backlash against MSM in the township,” explained de Swardt.

“This included a detailed discussion, in the form of a focus group, with township-dwelling MSM who approved the final design. The billboard is therefore quite ‘subtle’.”

The billboard is part of Health4Men’s Ukwazana (Xhosa: “getting to know each other”) MSM empowerment campaign which is popular among gay and bi men in township areas, and links to the distribution of condoms and water-based lubrication in shebeens.

Health4Men offers free sexual health services to MSM and has clinics in Woodstock, Khayelitsha, Johannesburg and Soweto.

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