Sex: Lowdown or Lockdown?

South Africa is under lockdown to slow the coronavirus pandemic – and that includes not hooking up for sex. Unfortunately, even after the lockdown ends, we may still need to reduce casual sex and hookups to keep ourselves and others safe from COVID-19. 

While EMH is a sex-positive organisation and we encourage men to enjoy their sex life, we currently recommend abstaining from casual sex to avoid getting and spreading coronavirus. It’s about protecting your general health and that of those around you (including the most vulnerable in our society) from a virus that can be deadly and could devastate our health system and economy.

While sex is an important part of life, right now we have to find other ways to achieve sexual pleasure and satisfaction. It’s time to stay at home, stop close contact with people outside our household and to be creative about how we manage our sex lives.

Here are a few sex-related questions you may have during the time of coronavirus:

  • Can the coronavirus be passed on through sex?

It is important to remember that the virus is definitely spread through saliva and mucus; so kissing is a very high-risk method of transmission. There are also concerns that the virus may be transmitted via faeces so anal play, such as rimming, may be risky. Latest scientific findings have shown that the coronavirus has been found in the semen of some men who got the virus but it’s not yet clear what this means.

  • It is safe to have sex?

Don’t believe that you are safe just because someone looks healthy. Remember that people can be infected with the coronavirus and may not show any symptoms but can still pass it on. Sex with someone with whom you are sharing a home and are self-isolating is one of the safer options; you are already living close to each other.

Do not be tempted to bring any other individuals from outside of your home into your sex life during this crisis. It’s strongly recommended that you don’t hook up with strangers or multiple partners.

  • What other ways can I have sex?

The safest kind of sex you can have – as always – is with yourself – i.e. good old masturbation! Take all the time you need to pleasure yourself to let off your sexual steam. This is where the amazing power of the internet comes into play. You can visit free adult sites to get an eyeful of sexual stimulation. You can also use hook-up apps or sites to chat with other people to get yourselves off, but just not in the same room! If you are using video or sharing pictures to have fun with someone online, take great care that the footage and photos don’t get misused to blackmail or embarrass you. The rule of thumb is to never include your face in any sexually explicit images or video that you appear in.

  • Should I still be taking PrEP?

If you are still hooking up or having casual sex (despite recommendations not to), then continue to use (or get onto) PrEP to avoid HIV infection. However, if you are not having sex and are adhering to lockdown and social distancing rules, then you may choose to stop PrEP for now. It’s safe to stop PrEP as long as you keep taking it for two days after you last had sex. If you are on PrEP for a very specific reason, such as living with an HIV positive sexual partner, you should keep taking PrEP.

Remember that once you’re ready to start using PrEP again, you must take the daily dose for seven consecutive days before it will protect you from HIV (ie. don’t have unprotected sex during those seven days).

  • HIV positive? Don’t stop taking your ARVs 

If you are HIV positive, do keep taking your ARVs (or get onto them if you are not currently on treatment). Being on ARVs will not only keep you healthy and reduce your risk of passing on HIV to others but will also help boost your immune system – very important during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • What if I need to get tested for an STI?

Sexual health services are reducing their face-to-face appointments to reduce the risk of infection. There are limited sexual health services available over this lockdown period, but EMH in Johannesburg and OUT’s TEN81 in Pretoria will both be open for services (details below). If you are in another city or from another province you need to contact your local sexual health clinic for more information.

For more information or to make an appointment, please call:

EMH clinic in Melville, Johannesburg
010 500 0934
www.engagemenshealth.org.za

OUT’s TEN81 clinic in Hatfield, Pretoria
012 430 3272 / 066 190 5812
www.out.org.za

Resources (South Africa):

If you are concerned that you have coronavirus and/or have any symptoms, call the national coronavirus hotline for further advice and support: 0800 029 999.

To stay up to date on coronavirus news, developments and symptoms, save the official coronavirus WhatsApp service number on your phone: 060 012 3456. Send “hi” to the number and follow the prompts. You can also visit the SA government’s coronavirus website here.

Article sources: Terrence Higgins Trust / NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

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Vital HIV services for MSM continue in Joburg and Pretoria during lockdown

Two specialised health clinics for men who have sex with men (MSM) will continue to provide free life-saving HIV services, despite the national coronavirus lockdown.

Gay, bisexual and other MSM are among the most vulnerable to HIV infection in South Africa. They are also likely to face stigma and discrimination at mainstream clinics when it comes to their sexual health.

All services and treatment at Engage Men’s Health (EMH) in Melville, Johannesburg and OUT’s TEN81 clinic in Hatfield, are free and will continue during the lockdown (for new and existing clients):
• ART (HIV treatment / medication)
• PrEP (the daily pill that prevents HIV)
• PEP (medication for emergency exposure to HIV)

“HIV will not be on lockdown during this crisis so it is important to ensure that those who need treatment, prevention and support continue to receive it,” says Executive Director Dawie Nel.

He points out that individuals who are HIV positive and are not on treatment and / or have weakened immune systems may be at higher risk of more severe coronavirus symptoms. “If you are HIV positive or suspect you may be HIV positive, now is the time to get tested, and get on and stay on treatment, which could help save your life,” explains Nel.

In addition to HIV services, TEN81 will also provide limited phone and Skype counselling to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) and MSM individuals dealing with urgent matters or crises.

The LGBT and MSM communities face numerous psychosocial challenges due to living in a heteronormative and biased society. These are likely to be heightened during a stressful period like the one we are now experiencing, so it is important that we continue to provide as much support and care as possible,” says Johan Meyer, Operational Director at OUT LGBT Well-being.

The following measures have been put in place by the clinics to protect both clients and staff from spreading the coronavirus:

• Visits and collections STRICTLY by appointment only. No walk-ins will be allowed
• No physical contact during consultations unless necessary
• Only one client allowed in the clinic at any time. Anyone waiting outside must maintain a safe distance from one another
• Surfaces will be wiped down with disinfectant regularly and staff will wear gloves and masks
• Staff will work on a rotation basis

For more information or to make an appointment, please call:
• EMH clinic in Melville, Johannesburg
  010 500 0934
  www.engagemenshealth.org.za 
• OUT’s TEN81 clinic in Hatfield, Pretoria
   012 430 3272 / 066 190 5812
   www.out.org.za

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#PrEPup on the basics

Here is a compilation of frequently asked questions we get about PrEP and we answered them for you:

What is PrEP ?

PrEP is a daily pill taken by people who are HIV negative to prevent HIV infection.
PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis.

Pre – before
Exposure – coming into contact with HIV
Prophylaxis – a medicine to prevent infection

What’s the difference between PrEP, PEP and ARVs?

PrEP is taken by HIV negative people in advance BEFORE sex to prevent HIV.
PEP is taken by HIV negative people as an emergency treatment AFTER high risk exposure to HIV.
ARVs are medication taken by people who are HIV positive to stay healthy.

What is the standard PrEP dosage?

1 pill per day

How much does it cost?

PrEP is supplied free by Engage Men’s Health to gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM).

How well does it work?

HIV-negative people who take PrEP every day can lower their risk of HIV by 99%.

Who should take PrEP?

Only people who are HIV negative, especially those at high risk of HIV infection. This includes people who have multiple sex partners and inconsistent (or no) condom use, men who have sex with men, those in relationships with HIV positive partners, recreational drug users who engage in chemsex, injecting drug users and sex workers.

For how long do I take it?

You need to take PrEP for as long as you feel you will need HIV prevention. You can stop taking it when you don’t need it anymore. This depends on your sexual behaviour. It is important to remember that if you stop taking PrEP you are not protected from HIV. You can start PrEP again in future if you want to go back on it. It is advisable to let your healthcare worker know when you decide to stop and to speak to them if a long period has passed since you stopped and want to start again.

What does PrEP prevent?

PrEP ONLY prevents HIV infection, and not other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

What about using condoms?

Daily use of PrEP will protect you from HIV infection, even without condoms. The use of condoms and water-based lube is, however, still recommended as this will also help protect you from other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

What are the side effects?
Some people may experience mild side effects when they start PrEP.
• Nausea
• Headache
• Tiredness
• Diarrhoea
• Depression
• Unusual dreams
• Vomiting
• Rash
• Problems sleeping
• Changes in appetite
In most people, these side effects go away after a few weeks.

How do I start PrEP?
Make an appointment at one of our sites in Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth or East London or see one of our outreach teams:

• We will give you a rapid HIV test.
• If the result is negative, you’ll be given PrEP for a month.
• Blood will also be drawn from your arm and will be sent to the lab. The lab will:
+ double check for HIV again
+ check for kidney function
• Return after a month.
• If blood results from the lab show you are HIV positive or that your kidney function is bad: you stop PrEP immediately.
• If blood results from the lab confirm you are HIV negative and kidney function is good: you will receive a 3 month supply of PrEP.
• Your next appointment for blood tests and PrEP collection will be in 3 months.

How long before it starts to work?
You need to take PrEP every day it for at least 7 days before it will protect you when it comes to anal sex. (A woman or transgender man who has vaginal sex must take PrEP daily for 21 days for it to work.)

What happens if I forget to take it?

If you forget to take your PrEP pill on a certain day, take it as soon as you remember (but don’t take it twice in a day if you forgot to take it yesterday). If you take PrEP daily, you will become more than 90% protected from HIV. Very occasionally missing a day shouldn’t have a major impact but the more you miss taking it daily the less effective it becomes. If you stop completely, you will no longer be protected at all.

Any other tips for taking PrEP?

* Drink plenty of water while on PrEP to keep kidney function good
* Set an alarm to remind you to take PrEP
* Talk to your clinician about side effects
* If you forget to take PrEP, take it in the moment you remember it.

Who do I contact to get free PrEP?

If you live in the Johannesburg metro, Nelson Mandela Bay or Buffalo City areas call or WhatsApp / Engage Men’s Health on: 082 607 1686. (If you live in other areas, you can also contact us and we will try to refer you to another service closer to you.)

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EMH lockdown clinic services in Johannesburg

We’re still here! The Engage Men’s Health clinic at 27 Boxes in Melville will continue to provide selected vital services during the national lockdown period. Please note the below details.

* The clinic is open Mon – Fri throughout the lockdown

* Hours are 8.30 – 16:30

* There are no Saturday services during this time.

* Services on offer: PrEP, ARV and PEP initiation/collections.

* No physical contact during consultations, unless absolutely necessary.

* If required, clients will be verbally assisted to administer a simple HIV self-screening test.

* If the result is positive, the nurse will administer a confirmation test and provide ARV treatment.

* Only one client allowed in the clinic at any time.

* Visits/collections STRICTLY by appointment only. No drop-ins.

* Appointments to be made by calling 010 500 0934 / 060 985 6008

* The 27 Boxes centre will be closed so when arriving for your appointment, please use the 3rd Avenue entrance. On arrival at the entrance, call 010 500 0934 and the receptionist will collect you.

* After the consultation, the receptionist will escort you back to the 27 Boxes exit.

We wish you safety and good health during this period.

The EMH team

PLEASE NOTE:

If you are concerned that you have coronavirus and/or have any symptoms, please call the national coronavirus hotline for further advice and support: 0800 029 999.

To stay up to date on coronavirus news, developments and symptoms please save the official coronavirus WhatsApp service number on your phone: 060 012 3456. Send “hi” to the number and follow the prompts.

We also urge you to visit the official SA government (data free) coronavirus resource website at https://coronavirus.datafree.co/.

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Engage Men’s Health statement on the coronavirus crisis

As we face the threat of the coronavirus in South Africa and across the world, the well-being of Engage Men’s Health’s clients, staff members and community is of critical importance. We would, therefore, like to inform you of what steps we are taking to reduce the risk of infection while maintaining our services.

1. We will continue to provide our usual HIV and sexual health services for now, although we will be limiting the scale of services.

2. The coronavirus may have a more severe impact on those with weaker immune systems. Anyone who is HIV positive who is not on treatment may be at higher risk. We recommend that they contact us or another health provider to get onto free ARV treatment. If you are on ARV treatment already, please stay on it and ensure you have adequate stock. We urge those in our communities who do not know their HIV status to get tested.

3. We will be limiting the number of staff in the field and at our clinic/offices. We are working to ensure that we are equipped with alcohol-based sanitiser and masks as needed.

4. We will ensure that only one client at a time will wait in our clinic/office reception area. Other clients are asked to remain outside until it is their turn.

5. We will not be accepting walk-in clients during this time and request that clients please call us to make an appointment before coming to our clinic or office. For those collecting medication, please make sure that you have pre-arranged this telephonically.

6. Where possible, our office-based staff will be asked to work from home and/or on a rational basis. This is to reduce the number of staff in the office at any time and will limit their contact with others, such as when using public transport.

7. We will do our utmost to accommodate staff with children who need day-care in the wake of school closures by allowing them to work from home wherever possible.

8. Our clinic and services are not equipped to assist patients who may be sick with coronavirus. If you are concerned that you have coronavirus or have had contact with anyone who may have been exposed, we urge you to rather stay at home and self-quarantine. We will, however, accommodate clients who need to collect their HIV medication as long as they first call or Whatsapp / message us on 082 607 1686 to arrange collection.

9. If you are concerned that you have coronavirus and/or have any symptoms, please call the national coronavirus hotline for further advice and support: 0800 029 999.

10. To stay up to date on coronavirus news, developments and symptoms please save the official coronavirus WhatsApp service number on your phone: 060 012 3456. Send “hi” to the number and follow the prompts.

11. We urge everyone to avoid unnecessarily travelling, socialising and congregating with other people. Wash your hands for 20 seconds regularly and after every interaction with other people, public spaces and surfaces. Use hand sanitiser when and if possible. Also, practice social distancing of at least one metre, and avoid touching your face.

12. If you have any questions about our services or wish to make an appointment, please call or Whatsapp / message us on 082 607 1686.

We believe that by working together, staying aware of developments via official and reputable news sources, and following recommended practices, we can overcome this crisis and limit the spread of coronavirus. Wishing you and your loved ones the best of health.

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Keenan: Single, sexually active and on PrEP

As a single and sexually active guy in his twenties who’s still interested in meeting up with other guys, it’s gratifying for me to be a regular PrEP user. It reduces my risk of contracting HIV, allows me to enjoy the pleasure of sex and also to make my sexual partner feel comfortable.

I was introduced to PrEP in 2018 when a guy I was with asked if I’d like to have unprotected sex because he’s on PrEP. I declined because I wasn’t sure if he was being truthful. I was curious, so I enquired, did some research and found Engage Men’s Health clinic in Melville.
I made an appointment, not knowing what to expect and was very nervous. The staff was very inviting and warm. I got my blood taken, got tested and then the sister explained all the benefits of taking the little blue pill. I haven’t looked back since.

I’m very passionate about sex education amongst the MSM community, especially young men who don’t enquire more about safer ways to engage in sexual activity. For the most part, I think social media can be a powerful tool to drive more people to take care of themselves. In today’s society, people spend most of their time on social media that’s where they make friends and find love too.

I feel dating/hookup apps could do more to push for PrEP to be more visible. I like to disclose that I am on PrEP if I’m on a dating site. I’m open about my sexual health and expect someone interested in me or my profile to reciprocate. It’s also a good conversation starter if someone sees I’m on PrEP and doesn’t quite know much about it.

I like to assure people that PrEP is a preventative measure, that it is as easy as taking a pill a day and had almost no side effects. I also inform them that it doesn’t mean you’re HIV positive if you use it, but it’s an additional method of preventing HIV if you are negative. Studies have confirmed a decline in HIV transmission among those who use the magic blue pill.

The key to getting men to utilise this drug is putting the message out there and informing them that it works. Honestly, it’s very hot to meet a guy who cares about himself and his sexual partner(s) and self-care is on the rise amongst all men.

Try to find a connection with your partner or partners and encourage them to be on PrEP too and enjoy ultimate pleasure with a lot less risk.

I still choose to use condoms because I enjoy safe sex and they protect me from other STIs (sexually transmitted infections). For me, PrEP works as an additional preventative method. I haven’t encountered any bad experiences with PrEP. This is a FREE drug that is accessible with guaranteed results – and I’m living proof.

PrEP has been scientifically proven to be over 99% effective at preventing HIV infection. For free PrEP and other sexual health services contact EMH in Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay or Buffalo City on 082 6071686 by either calling or sending a WhatsApp message to make an appointment. For more PrEP information click here

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Buya uzo cheka impilo!

Buya uzo cheka impilo” means “Come back to check your life/health”. This message is vital because many guys find out that they are HIV positive but never go on treatment or do start but stop at some point.

Fact: A lot of people prefer not to know their HIV status rather than having it confirmed.
Fact: Most people who get an HIV test are nervous about getting the result.
Fact: Many who receive an HIV positive diagnosis may be scared to go onto ARV treatment.
Fact: Some people fear what others will think if they’re seen getting ARVs from a clinic.
Fact: People sometimes stop taking their ARVs because they don’t feel sick or because they find it’s a challenge to take time off work or to get to a clinic.

Fear and lack of knowledge are often behind these facts. The truth is that if you are positive and the sooner you go onto treatment, the sooner the ARVs will start fighting the HIV in your body. People who are HIV positive have a considerably lower risk of developing Aids or other serious illnesses if they start taking antiretroviral drugs sooner rather than later. Being HIV positive and not on ARVs puts you at a higher risk of getting other STIs and developing more severe symptoms. The longer you wait, the longer it will take to get the HIV under control once you eventually go onto ARVs.

Modern ARVs have very few side effects and can lower HIV so that tests can’t pick it up. This is called “undetectable” and means that the chances of you passing HIV on to someone else is 0%.

The benefits of staying on ARVs are clear. Nothing, especially not fear, should stand in your way of living a full life.

HIV testing and ARVs are available for free at our EMH services in Johannesburg, Buffalo City and Nelson Mandela Bay. Please WhatsApp call or message us on 082 607 1686 to book an appointment. 

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I’m now a PrEP convert

I’m Rudy Bessit, a gay 36-year-old Johannesburg actor and writer. I first heard about PrEP two years ago and I started asking around about how (and if) it works. Some of what I heard seemed alarming; someone told me that my kidneys would be affected and the fact that I’d have to take a pill every day felt like too much of a commitment.

I later met people who were on PrEP and enquired some more, but I still wasn’t convinced to start using it. After all, how legit could this be; medication for HIV negative people that actually prevent HIV infection?

Then, while browsing Facebook one day, I saw an ad from Engage Men’s Health with a WhatsApp number. I decided to message and get more info. The person on the other end was very friendly, informative, and that made me comfortable enough to visit the Engage clinic in Johannesburg.

The clinic is situated within an easy-to-find establishment in Melville. It’s clean, modern and felt welcoming. The staff are very friendly, funny and professional at the same time.

Being a freelance actor, I didn’t make an appointment because my days are unpredictable. However, I was still received and treated kindly. I cracked jokes and laughed with the staff throughout my visit.

Once the staff explained to me what I’d be tested for, how PrEP works and how they would monitor my kidneys, I was finally comfortable to start taking the pills.

See, your kidneys can be affected by any medication – not just PrEP. That’s why blood is drawn at the clinic. It’s to check the state of your kidneys before going on the pills. The healthcare worker will check your kidney function every few months to ensure that the medication does not affect these organs negatively. For most people with healthy kidneys, there should be no problem.

They also explained how PrEP arms the white blood cells to prevent HIV-infection, and this got me to understand the legitimacy of the pill. It’s been repeatedly proven to be more than 99% effective if you take it daily.

So why did I think PrEP was for me? I know from experience that one can never be sure how faithful your partner is, or how responsible they are if they did end up sleeping with someone else. You may think you are safe from HIV by having just one partner, but you may be wrong.

Another reason why I felt that PrEP is a good idea is the fact that I can now assist strangers when they’re injured and bleeding without fearing to come into contact with their blood. I’d have far more confidence and courage to get involved.

I started PrEP in September and got a one month supply. For the first three days or so after I started, I felt sleepy and my stomach was looser than usual. By day five, everything was back to normal and I’ve not had any other side effects since then. I returned to the Engage clinic after the first month. I got a three-month supply which is convenient because I won’t have to return to the clinic every single month. And it’s all free!

As a single guy on the dating scene, PrEP has given me real peace of mind that I am protected from HIV. I’ve realised that it is well worth the commitment of taking a pill every day. So call me a convert; I’m now a happy PrEP user!

PrEP has been scientifically proven to be over 99% effective at preventing HIV infection. For free PrEP and other sexual health services contact EMH in Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay or Buffalo City on 082 6071686 by either calling or WhatsApp message to set up an appointment. For more PrEP information click here

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Bottoms Up

Let’s face it, being a bottom in the bedroom is not always easy. It not only can take a little more effort and preparation but we don’t always get the respect we deserve.

Your sexual position, role and personal turn-ons are nothing to ever be ashamed of. We say, enough of bottom shaming and booty stigma!

So, in honour of all the bottoms out there, here are some handy tips to help make your sex life easier, safer and hotter than ever:

  • First things first: To have anal sex (and enjoy it), you and your top partner need to take things slow. Take your time, breath and try to relax before you get jiggy with it.
  • While the anus and rectum do not usually store faeces (poo), there may be remnants left behind. Before having sex, have a shower or bath and gently clean yourself with your fingers and warm water and soap.
  • You may want to start with some foreplay, such as letting your partner finger you using plenty of water-based lube as you relax.
  • Unlike a vagina, the anus is not naturally lubricated. It’s for this reason that it is important to use lots of water-based lube when having anal sex. Lube makes the anus smooth and slippery so that a penis can enter it more comfortably. Lube makes sex more enjoyable and also prevents condoms from tearing. Use lots of it!
  • If you feel pain at any point, ask him to stop and be still for a little while he’s inside of you, and then let him try move again. If you’re not enjoying it, ask your partner to stop. You can try again later. It may take several attempts for you to feel comfortable.
  • When you’re having sex, you may feel like you want to go to the toilet. This is natural. In time your body will learn to know the difference between having anal sex and needing to go to the loo.
  • It’s important to have fun, laugh and don’t take it all too seriously. After all, it’s just sex!
  • Remember that the receptive (bottom) is at most risk of HIV infection during bareback (condomless) compared to the top partner.
  • Anal sex without lube can not only be painful but the sensitive lining of the anus is more susceptible to cuts and abrasions during sex. These cuts and internal scrapes allow for HIV that may be present in the top’s cum or pre-cum to get into contact with the bottom’s bloodstream. Using lube helps reduce and tears or cuts to the anus.
  • Using condoms and water-based lubricant is still your best defence against both HIV and STIs (sexually transmitted infections).
  • If you are a bottom who is HIV negative, you should also be using PrEP, the daily HIV prevention pill. While PrEP does not protect you from other STIs it is extremely effective against HIV, even if you do not use condoms.
  • If you are HIV positive, you need to be on ARVs and stay on your treatment. ARVs not only lower your risk of passing HIV onto your partner but also keeps you healthy.
  • Get tested for STIs and HIV every six months. Why not ask for an HIV self-testing kit, so you can test at your own convenience?

Engage Men’s Health in Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City can help keep your sex life safe and healthy. Contact us for free condoms and water-based lube as well as free HIV and STI screenings, PrEP, ARVs and HIV self-testing kits. Call or Whatsapp 082 607 1686 for more information.

 

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Are you prepped for the holidays?

It’s that time of the year again; the last rush before you can relax and spend time with your loved ones. For many, it is also party season, so we’d like to give you a few tips to get prepped for the holidays.

  • It is very tempting to drink a lot when you go out. What many guys forget is that the drink you have now will only hit you in 20 min. So that the double shooter you have five minutes after you had a drink five minutes ago, will also only hit you 20 min later. This means that in 20 min, all three drinks are going to hit you at the same time. Try to pace yourself and have non-alcoholic beverages (or water) in-between.
  • If you are on ARVs or PrEP, make sure that you have enough meds to last you over the period between Christmas and New Year. Throw the tablets onto a small side plate or on a surface where they won’t roll or fall off. Physically count your pills and work out till what date you will have enough.
  • If you need to stock up on PrEP or ARVs, contact your provider asap BEFORE they close over the holidays.
  • We know that this time of the year is crazy busy. It’s for this reason that beyond our regular open hours, Engage Men’s Health in Johannesburg (Melville) will have extended hours till 20:00 on Wednesdays and Fridays and till 17:00 on Saturdays. This is from 1 December up to 20 December. The extended hours, unfortunately, do not apply to our other two branches, but please contact Engage Men’s Health in Buffalo City (010 534 8366) and Engage Men’s Health in Nelson Mandela Bay (010 534 8428) directly to make an appointment to ensure you get your meds sorted before the holidays.
  • If you are on ARVs or PrEP, stash one of your tablets in your wallet or maybe a bag you have with you all the time. Wrap the tablet in cling wrap or in a small sealable packet. This is to prevent the tablet from getting wet or damaged. If you end up hooking up with somebody or crash at a friend’s house, then you don’t need to stress because you will have your meds with you.
  • Do the same with two condoms and two sachets of water-based lube. Just be careful where you keep the condoms so that they don’t get damaged. If you keep condoms on you for a long time, be sure to check their expiry date as the older condoms are, the more likely they may be to tear or break.
  • Another tip is to scan your ARV or PrEP script (if that’s how you get your meds) and then email it to yourself. This will help a lot If you should urgently need to get meds in an unfamiliar place. If for example your bag gets stolen, or you lose your meds, you can go to a pharmacy and show them your scanned script on your phone. Ask them if you can buy loose tablets to carry you through till your next refill when you are back at home.
  • ARVs and PrEP are super effective, but only if you take them as you should. Let’s say the time you normally take your ARVs or PrEP is 20:00. If you forget to take them at 20:00, take them the moment you remember or when you can get to your meds. Then take your meds the same as you normally would.
  • If you are HIV negative and not using PrEP, and you had high-risk exposure to HIV, you need to get PEP. High-risk exposure is for example unprotected sex with somebody you don’t know, or if a condom breaks. This needs to happen within 72 hours (3 days) after the incident. You can go to any clinic, doctor or pharmacy and say you need to get PEP and they tell you what to do.
  • If for some reason you get nauseous and throw up after you took your meds, here’s what to do. If you throw up within 1 hour after you take your meds, you need to retake them. (If you get sick after an hour, you will only have to take meds again the next time you are supposed to.)

For all your sexual health needs for the holidays, including free PrEP, ARVs, HIV self-testing kits, STI screening, condoms, and lube contact Engage Men’s Health on 082 607 1686 (remember, we are closed from 20 Dec 2019 to 6 Jan 2020.)

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