Pic: David Lee
WeTheBrave, the largest sexual health campaign targeting gay men and MSM (men who have sex with men) in South Africa, was launched in Cape Town on the eve of the city’s Pride festival.
On Thursday, the campaign’s arrival in the Western Cape was celebrated at a function at the Ritz Hotel in Seapoint. It was previously launched in Johannesburg in June last year, with the aim of driving MSM to be brave enough to get tested and take care of their sexual health.
Spearheaded by the Anova Health Institute and funded by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, WeTheBrave addresses both prevention and treatment issues in an affirming, non-judgemental and sex positive way, that is not only entertaining but engaging too.
The campaign links to Anova’s Health4Men clinical services in the public sector and independent clinicians in the private sector and is faced with the reality that one in four MSM in Johannesburg and Cape Town are HIV positive.
“We have three main goals with the Campaign,” said Anova Health Institute CEO Prof. James McIntyre, “ensuring that MSM have the knowledge and opportunities to prevent new HIV infections, that they understand the benefits of regular HIV testing to know their status and that they use antiretroviral treatment when and if they need it.”
An online survey has revealed that 30.5% of South African MSM have not been tested for HIV within the past year. Of those, 7.3% have never been tested.
A major deterrent to testing, says McIntyre, is the fear of stigmatisation related to their HIV status and sexual behaviour – particularly amongst non-gay-identifying MSM and those that live in homophobic communities.
Pic: David Lee
As a result, many MSM find it difficult to disclose their sexuality to healthcare workers, which in turn limits their access to HIV services.
“Cape Town is the San Francisco of Africa for many people, so we’re excited to bring WeTheBrave.co.za here,” commented Nina Morris Lee, Head of Marketing at Anova Health Institute.
“Cape Town Pride has given us the perfect launch pad to build awareness and get guys to our Health4Men testing stations, which can be accessed at most of the Pride events over the next week.”
Over the course of the ten day festival, the theme of which is ‘Brave Enough’, WeTheBrave will be hosting a series of strategic events.
At Saturday’s march through the city, the campaign will have its very own float – a gigantic penis spurting glitter. In addition, there will be testing stations on-site to enable people to put their bravery into action.
For more information on WeTheBrave, visit www.wethebrave.co.za or follow it on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. For details on Cape Town Pride events, click here.