A new app for gay and other men who have sex with men is connecting users with free condoms in ‘safe spaces’ across Manila, the country’s capital.
The ‘Safe Spaces’ app by LoveYourself, a community-based organisation providing health and empowerment services to men who have sex with men and transgender people, was inspired by Pokémon Go and lets users know where their closest condom dispenser is.
The app is featured in this month’s Lancet HIV and aims to reduce new HIV infections among gay men and transgender women, only one-third of whom reported using a condom in the last year. The main reason for not using a condom was that it was ‘not available’.
A lack of condom promotion and low condom use is blamed for an explosion in HIV infections in the Philippines, with new HIV infections increasing by a staggering 174% in the seven short years from 2010. No other country has experienced such a hike in new HIV infections – neither in the Asia Pacific region nor around the world.
What is more alarming is that the majority of these new infections are among men, and especially young gay men. While the overall HIV prevalence countrywide is 0.1%, around 5% of men who have sex with men are living with HIV, and 90% of new infections are among men who have sex with men and transgender people. Additionally, knowledge of HIV status in this group is poor with less than 14% of gay men under 25 aware of their status.
While condoms are widely available to buy or get in a health centre, wide-spanning stigma and discrimination towards gay men affect access to this vital prevention tool. The ‘Safe Spaces’ app seeks to bridge this gap with 30 dispensers in safe spaces, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) friendly spaces, cafes, bathhouses and universities. It aims to increase this number to 150 in the city by the end of 2018. Read more via Avert
One of the core principles of LoveYourself’s Triangle of Self-Care (TSC), emphasizes the importance of Correct and Consistent Condom use. Your sexual health and wellness is a basic right, you should never feel ashamed or worried whenever you buy these essentials. You may be aware of the free condoms provided by the government and specific clinics but these areas might be too far from home. There are time you just wish that these concerns can be answered easily, like a snap of your fingertips.
It’s time you let go of these worries away because you can now have the answer with just a click away - Safe Spaces PH!
What is Safe Spaces PH?
Safe Spaces PH is a growing initiative of LoveYourself Inc. together with partnering establishments and organizations all around the metro. The project aims to provide a series of sex positive places where you can get free condoms and lubes without the worry of being judged.