About Staying Negative

Staying Negative aims to emotionally engage, inspire and facilitate imagination in sexual health practices. The campaign profiles the real life stories of gay, bisexual and trans men who have sex with men (MSM). Men talk about all aspects of their life from coming out, relationships, sexuality and a broad range of other topics. While HIV and safe sex is an important part of all stories, it is not the exclusive focus.

Prior HIV prevention campaigns have traditionally focused on providing gay men with information that will encourage them to adopt safe sex behaviours. In reality, safe sex practices are influenced by a whole range of environmental and cultural factors. The campaign also provides an opportunity for HIV positive men to talk about their lives and discuss how their strategies to staying HIV negative were not successful. We understand that there is more than one way practice safe sex and adopt healthcare seeking behaviours, so let's be creative about it!

There are no real criteria for participants other than that they are MSM and happy to have their stories appear as part of the campaign. In addition to the personal stories, the website provides information on HIV/AIDS, sexual health, relationships and broad of the other relevant topics including domestic violence, drugs and alcohol and depression.

Lymphogranuloma Venereum (LGV)

What is it?

Lymphomagranuloma venereum (LGV) is a bacterial infection caused by certain rare types of Chlamydia trachomatis. Whilst it is rare, symptoms experienced are far more severe than general chlamydia. There have also been several outbreaks of LGV in Australia in recent years. LGV usually affects the groin area involving your cock (penis), balls (testicles) and arse.

 Symptoms

Primary stage:

Roughly between 3 days to 3 weeks after exposure, symptoms usually start as a painless bump or ulcer on the skin around the cock (penis), balls (testicles) or arse (rectum). If the infection is in the cock there may be pain when pissing or a discharge from the urethra. However these bumps or ulcers do not always appear and even if they do, they may go unnoticed.  In fact only 25% - 35% of people have reported having any sores.

Secondary stage:

A few weeks after the primary sores appear, the infection can spread and cause pain or swelling of glands in the groin area. Different symptoms relate to different sites of infection. For example, if the infection is in the cock then there may be a discharge or a swelling of the penile glands – which can cause the sores or lesions to break through the skin of the penis and leak fluid. If the infection is in the arse there may be inflammation around the arse area (called proctitis) which may cause blood or pus to be excreted from the anus. Infection in the arse can also cause constipation, cramping, and bleeding – especially when shitting. Lastly, if the infection is in the mouth the glands around the neck, shoulders and armpits can become inflamed.

Tertiary stage:

In the tertiary stage, there may be extreme swelling of your cock, balls and around the arse. The bacteria can lead to scarring and tissue damage that can have disastrous effects of the area around the genitals and inside the arse. Haemorrhoid like growths can develop in the arse and tissue damage can narrow the rectum. However it is highly likely that by this stage you will feel pretty unwell.

Transmission

LGV can be passed on through fucking (anal sex) or blow jobs (oral sex) without condoms, especially if you can see sores in the area. It can also be passed on through sex toys or fingers if they have come into contact with an infected persons’ cock, balls or arse. LGV can be passed on even if no sores can be seen.

Treatment

LGV is treated with a course of antibiotics that lasts for about 3 weeks, slightly longer than other types of Chlamydial infections. It is important to avoid sexual contact during the treatment period because you can still pass the infection on to others. If you have been diagnosed with LGV, contact recent sexual partners to also get tested and treated. You can do this anonymously through the Drama Down Under website.

Tell us your story

Tell us your story

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Come and tell us your story! We would love to hear from you! If you want to find out a little more about how it all works, give Jessie a call at VAC on (03) 9865 6700, or email staying.negative@vac.org.au