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Letting my 'guard' down

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Shortly before my 28th birthday, I discovered that a friend of mine was HIV positive. He wasn't a very close friend, but I knew him quite well and it came as a shock to me because he was well educated, intelligent and financially established in the world, and I believed that people like him did not get HIV. I couldn't understand how someone like that could be "dumb" enough to have unprotected sex. In the nineties almost every gay movie I could get my hands on was about gay men struggling with HIV or AIDS. How could he not have known to wear a condom? It was constantly drummed into us.

After a few years I moved to the big city and met other clever, educated people with HIV, and assumed it was drug or alcohol related. Why else would they have had unprotected sex?

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SOUTH AFRICA TO HOST MR GAY WORLD 2015

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The announcement was made during the grand finale of the 2014 competition on Saturday night in Rome, Italy, in which 32 delegates from around the world competed for the coveted title.

 MrGayWorldlogos

South Africa previously successfully hosted the event in Johannesburg in 2012. The latest bid was mounted by the organisers of the annual Pink Loerie Mardi Gras & Arts Festival, and sees the country becoming the first-ever to host the event twice.

The week-long Mr Gay World™ 2015 contest will coincide with next year's Globeflight Pink Loerie Mardi Gras & Arts Festival Knysna 2015 in association with TRIARC & MRGSA. It will be held in both Knysna and Cape Town, with the grand finale taking place in the Mother City on Sunday 3 May 2015.

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The Loerie on the wall

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The Anova Health Institute's innovative Health4Men project and NATIVE VML, a digital agency, recently took STI prevention to new heights by creating three giant tactical installations of condoms spelling the words HIV, Syphilis and Herpes on prominent walls in Cape Town. The initiative has received a nod of approval in the advertising world by being nominated for a prestigious Loerie Award.

CondomWall

Within two hours passers-by had removed the thousands of Health4Men condoms, literally causing the infections to disappear. The campaign aimed to visually connect the dots between HIV and STIs plus the importance of consistent condom usage as an essential prevention tool.

If used correctly and consistently, condoms do work. They remain the cornerstone of safer sex but the general decline in condom usage and escalated rates of STI and HIV infections in South Africa clearly highlight the need for creative approaches to prevention messaging.

Health4Men's condoms are aimed at men who have sex with men, who appreciate the slightly larger (and more comfortable) branded condoms that are available in both natural and black.

Health4Men's Glenn de Swardt congratulated NATIVE VML's Ryan McManus on his team's achievement. "This demonstrates the need to bring often taboo concepts, such as sexual health, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, into the realm of mainstream advertising. We look forward to collaborating with other agencies to explore creative platforms for innovative sexual health messaging."

The Loeries are the most prestigious brand communication awards dedicated to celebrating creative talent in the South African advertising industry.

Crossing Over: An anonymous writer's reflection on drug culture

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When I was in high school my poodle got tick bite fever and because we lived on a farm we kept pet meds in the fridge. The hardest thing for me to do was to puncture her skin and inject the Phenamidine. I knew if I didn't she would die. So I saved her life.
That didn't cure my fear of needles though.
But a few weeks ago I gave my training buddy a B12 shot and, to my surprise, he didn't feel a thing. The second time I jabbed him was even easier and I can now say with confidence that I've overcome my trypanophobia.
However, watching a brilliant series like Breaking Bad, puts a totally different spin on the use of needles (and drugs). It portrays the dark side of reality and the PG rating, unfortunately, is many parents' cue to change the channel to protect their kids from the evils of this world. Meanwhile their teen angels have been high more times than mom had renewed her Ritalin prescription.

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The PRIDEs of Gauteng

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Remember numerous Joburg Pride parades based at Zoo Lake until 2012? One year they boasted attendance by 25 000. And more than a decade before, we mustered 10 000 for a march from Library Gardens around Hillbrow and back, with camels! But last year the "official" Joburg Pride that straggled around a bit of Sandton attracted only hundreds. There was competition from Soweto Pride, People's Pride, and even Pretoria Pride.
But was it only the competition that brought about the fall? There was also politicking, which climaxed in the famous "no reason to celebrate" demo in which members of a women's group, the 1 in 9 Campaign, lay down in front of the Parade to draw attention to its depoliticisation.

PretoriaPridelogo

This year's Johannesburg Pride Parade & Festival will be held at Mushroom Farm Park on 25 October. You may find more details at johannesburgpride.co.za. Soweto Pride takes place on 27 September from 10am in Credo Mutwa Park. Pretoria Pride may be the one causing the most excitement (see p3) and will take place at the Centurion Rugby Club on 4 October 2014. The Parade will follow the same route as last year around central Centurion. Mark Stent , the world's strongest DJ, and Hazel Dean, British dance-pop singer, will be appearing at both Pride and the afterparty at Babylon. More info at http://ptagaypride.org/
At the time of going to press, the Ekurhuleni Pride website was still showing planning for the 2012 parade.

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