Valentine’s may be the most romantic day of the year with people across Manchester swept up in roses and chocolates, but experts are still warning young lovers to stay safe.
Those expecting to find a heart-felt verse or a lipstick kiss inside their February 14 envelope may be surprised to find condoms attached to Valentine’s cards handed out by people along Oxford Road near Manchester University today.
It is all part of the ‘Love is…’ campaign which aims to raise awareness of the importance of using condoms to help protect people from HIV and Chlamydia.
Then, on Saturday February 16, models dressed as Cupid will be touring bars around the Gay Village from 7.30pm to talk to people about getting an HIV test.
They will also be handing out ‘Love is…’ cards and a packet of love heart sweets to raise awareness of a very serious problem.
Research shows that one in ten young people in the UK have Chlamydia and recent reports indicate the rate of HIV infection has remained static for the last nine years.
Speaking to MM, Rosie Robinson, Chief Executive of the George House Trust which supports people diagnosed or living with HIV in Manchester, noticed a complacent attitude to HIV in the North West.
She said: “The North West has the biggest population of people living with HIV outside London so anyone sexually active in the North West should practice safe sex and it’s vitally important that men having sex with men understand this.”
As well as the safe-sex message being delivered to students along Oxford Road today, Saturday’s event will feature a number of activities people can join in along the way.
Revellers will be able to have their photograph taken for social media websites and write what they think love is on a wall for all to see.
The project on Saturday 16 February is being held in partnership between the Sexual Health and Harm Reduction Team at Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust and the Gay and Lesbian Foundation.