I was reminded recently of when I tried to swim across the Nepean River. It’s not very far only -” about 100 metres. All my friends were with me.  I was about nine and I thought I was a good swimmer.
My mum saw me from our back veranda, practically drowning (apparently) and came running down, jumped into the water fully clothed and dragged me to the side.
A lot of my youth was spent down the river (swimming, just for the record). My friends and I were always building cubby houses or jumping out of trees. Eventually jumping out of the trees got boring and we were looking for something bigger, taller and scarier. That’s when we found the biggest challenge.
The M4 Freeway bridge over the Nepean River was huge and I can’t believe we decided to do it. I can only imagine what the drivers thought, watching us climb over the railing to jump into the water.  I’m just happy I’m alive to tell the story; when I look at it now, how stupid was I to actually do it!
When we are younger we make certain decisions in either the heat of the moment, or because we want to be brave or don’t want others to think we are weak.
I suppose that is something we keep with us as we get older. We hear all sorts of reasons why some people choose not to use condoms. They’re too out of it, didn’t feel comfortable raising it with the other person or simply chose to ignore the risks.
We’re always trying to push the boundaries, try something we think is more exciting. And we justify it in our own minds by saying things like -˜just this once’.
Gay men generally use condoms most of the time, but when you don’t know your partners’ HIV status -” remember it’s not on, if it’s not on.

info: If you want any information about groups, services, organisations or community events taking place in western Sydney, you can contact Matt Vaughan at ACON on 9206 2064 or mvaughan@acon.org.au.

Matt Vaughan is the Community Development and Liaison Officer for the ACON Western Sydney Community Development Team.

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