Proud and Prepared: A Community Collaboration |

5 mins

Proud and Prepared: A Community Collaboration

To ensure everyone has a healthy and safe Pride, LGBTQ+ organisations including Gay Health Network,, Gay Men's Health Service, Belong To, LINC and Dublin Pride have launched the Proud and Prepared initiative. Their mission is to raise awareness about available resources and emphasise how a healthy body and mind can positively influence every aspect of our lives.

What’s New in Sexual Health?

One important message to know is that there has been a recent increase in cases of hepatitis B among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM). There is however good news: vaccination is the most effective way to prevent it. The hepatitis B vaccine is freely available at your nearest STI clinic or GP. An administration fee will apply at your GP if you don’t have a medical card. You can learn more about hepatitis B and your vaccination options at

Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Prevention

As David Field, Clinical Nurse Specialist at GMHS, emphasises, community involvement is crucial: “We came into 2024 hot on the heels of UNAIDS promoting the theme of 'Let Communities Lead!' It is imperative that LGBTQ+ voices continue to be heard in the delivery and design of our services.” David recommends leading “by calling out sexual health stigma whenever you hear it, promoting U=U to everyone who’ll listen and testing regularly using one of the many options now available, look after yourselves and each other.”

Preventing the spread of STIs and HIV starts with awareness and taking charge of our sexual health through safer practices. Here are some tips:

• Ensure you use condoms during sexual activities, especially with new or multiple partners. Find out where you can access free condoms at

• Regular STI testing is essential. Testing options include free home STI tests, in-clinic testing, and rapid testing for HIV. Learn more at

• Don’t let an appointment go to waste. Sometimes, even the best laid plans don’t work out. If you have an appointment with the clinic and you can’t make it, try to let them know. Someone will be delighted to take your slot!

• Practise good hygiene. Little things like washing your hands and private areas before and after sex can help stop the spread of some STIs like shigella. Learn at

• Start PEP if exposed to HIV. HIV PEP is a 28-day course of tablets that is recommended as soon as possible after a potential HIV exposure to prevent infection.

Learn more about HIV PEP at

Remember, sexual health is not just about avoiding or treating illness; it’s about feeling good in all aspects of your sexuality. For further sexual health and wellbeing info, visit

Looking for a Supportive Community?

LINC serves as Ireland's sole NGO dedicated to lesbian, bisexual, queer and transgender women (LBQT), offering a safe space for connection, socialisation and resource access. Beyond social activities, LINC advocates for social justice and equality for LBQT women and their families, grounding its work in feminist principles. To explore upcoming events, programmess and engagement opportunities, visit

Another vital resource is the Gay Project in Cork, which champions health and inclusion for LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly gay, bisexual and transgender men. The organisation provides free sexual health resources, organises rapid HIV testing events and offers mental wellbeing support. To get involved or access information, visit

Mental Health

As aptly stated by the World Health Organisation, “There is no health without mental health". A useful way of thinking about your mental health is to see it as a spectrum, ranging from good mental health and wellbeing on one end to poor mental health on the other. We are all somewhere along this spectrum.

Belong To offers comprehensive support services for LGBTQ+ youth, covering mental health resources, sexual health information and drug and alcohol support. Further details can be found at Additionally, a list of mental health resources is available at, while looks at vulnerabilities and offers tips for maintaining good mental health.

Staying physically active is one of the best ways to maintain good mental health. Whether it's hitting the gym, going for a run or simply taking a walk, regular physical activity significantly enhances energy levels, mood and sleep quality.

Joining Dublin Front Runners is a fantastic way to stay fit and meet new people. They are an inclusive and welcoming bunch, and running with them can be a great boost to both your physical and mental health.

Mark Armstrong, Chair of Dublin Front Runners, shares, "Our club is known for its friendly and supportive atmosphere. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned runner, you’ll find a place here. Plus, some of our members even come from outside Dublin because they feel so welcome! Come join us for a run and see for yourself how great it can be!" Get involved at

Sporting Pride is another organisation dedicated to fostering inclusivity in sports and clubs across Ireland, providing a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ athletes of all levels. For more information, visit

Drugs and Alcohol

While drugs and alcohol may feature in some celebrations, understanding their effects is paramount to maintaining our health and wellbeing.

Brenda, the drugs and alcohol youth worker with Belong To, offers the following advice:

• Use the buddy system to stay safe and ensure everyone gets home.

• Be mindful of your environment and plan to use substances in a safe place.

• Know your limits and pace yourself to avoid problems.

• Drink responsibly and avoid excessive alcohol consumption.

• Don't mix substances to help avoid dangerous outcomes.

• Stay hydrated and eat well to keep your body in good shape.

• Learn the signs of overdose and how to respond, and seek help if needed.

For those struggling with substance use, Belong To provides a dedicated drugs and alcohol support service, offering assistance and guidance in a free, confidential and non-judgmental manner. For more information, visit

Advice and Resources Around Chemsex

Chemsex is a reality. While it can be great fun, it is essential to tread carefully at this intersection of sex and drugs. Through education and empowerment, looking out for each other and making smart choices, everyone can enjoy their experiences while minimising potential harm. As a starting point: start low, go slow, mind yourself and look out for others.

The team at MPOWER has devised a Sex Party First Aid Guide so everyone can enjoy the party safely. Access the guide and avail of peer support at

PozVibe Podcast: Chem Sessions, hosted by HIV activists Robbie Lawlor and Veda, is a must-lisen chemsex resource. This series delves into the topic of chemsex in the gbMSM community with candid conversations and insightful interviews. Expect honest, deeply moving personal stories, all delivered with Robbie and Veda's signature wit. It's a refreshingly open and non-judgmental exploration of sex and drugs within the queer community.

Asked what they wanted to achieve with the series, Veda shared, “We want to provide some chemsex education with an eye on harm reduction. We also want to reduce the shame and stigma associated with queer sex and drugs, talk about consent, our mental health and nurture a culture of care at the chemsex party and in the comedown days that inevitably follow the session.”

Man2Man also offers harm reduction guidance on chemsex, meth, G, cocaine, ketamine, and other drugs at Harm reduction advice is also available at

For more information and resources on staying healthy in body and mind, visit

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