Pubs urged to give free condoms by longest surviving HIV patient
Pubs are being urged to hand out free condoms and sexual health information to patrons by the UK's longest surviving HIV patient. John Percy has been living with HIV for 36 years after contracting the disease in the 1980s and is now calling on all pubs and clubs in the UK to actively promote safe sex.
Mr Percy was initially told that he had a life expectancy of just three years when he was first diagnosed but has responded well to ongoing treatments. At 57, he is thought to be the UK's longest surviving patient after being diagnosed at just 21. Following this, he has dedicated his life to raising awareness of the HIV and its implications.
While Mr Percy said in an interview with the Press Association that most gay pubs and clubs actively promote safe sex and provide free condoms, not all pubs and clubs across the UK do. He believes this should change to ensure patrons are engaging in safe sex in order to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
He has also called for more money to be made available for sexual health services following cuts to the funding of these services in the last few years, despite cases of certain STIs rising in many areas of the country.
“Every gay venue you go into there is sexual health information and most gay venues hand out free condom packs, whereas in heterosexual pubs you don’t get free condom packs, you don’t get sexual health information," he said.
"To me, that should be regimental right through. If the government could fund that it would be fantastic.”
Cary James, head of health programmes at Terrence Higgins Trust, a sexual health charity, echoed Mr Percy's views on free condoms in pubs. However, he said that limited resources mean that this is often not possible and tends to be targeted at those most at risk of poor sexual health instead of the entire community.
Mr James did suggest that people can save money by buying condoms online, saying: “What we have found is that people can get really cheap condoms online, much cheaper than the high street shops, and also with a better selection."
Not only does this ensure you have condoms when you need them, it also means they are right for you and so offer better protection.