When it comes to safe sex, no community group is immune from the message — and the Harbour City Bears (HCB) will be doing their bit this year.

The Bears, in conjunction with the South East Sydney Illawarra Area Health Service, will release a series of safe-sex cards tied in with the 2010 Bear Essentials program.

“Basically we wanted to promote safe-sex and good health — particularly to the younger bears and cubs,” HCB president Jonny Bastin said.

“We originally applied for a World AIDS Day Grant, but didn’t quite meet the criteria. But the guys at SESIAHS liked our idea so much they decided to fund it themselves.”

The safe-sex cards, designed by Grant Cook, use imagery from the Bear Essential 14: Between the Flags program.
They encourage Bears, Cubs and other community groups to wear condoms, take regular STD tests and take care of their sexual hygiene.

“STDs are an issue for Bears and Cubs in the same way as in the mainstream gay male population; it’s just that there’s very little health promotion literature speaking directly to them,” Bastin said.

“We want guys to pick up and read the cards and take on board the messages. By re-labelling an existing campaign as the Bear Essentials of good health we’re trying to grab the attention of guys who identify as Bears or Cubs as well as those guys who like to pick up Bears or Cubs.

“We also included the reachout.com website, run by our charity Inspire, on the cards as we know many young guys have problems when they come out. Being a Bear or Cub kind of means you have to come out twice — first as gay and then as a Bear! Inspire and reachout.com is a great fit with HCB.”

The cards will be packaged into ACON safe sex-packs as well as inside registration packs for the Bear Essentials festival.
Bastin said HCB was keen to do more work along these lines in the future.

“Individual members of HCB have been involved in many safe-sex campaigns in the past, but this is the first time HCB has designed and received funding for its own campaign specifically targeting the Bears and Cubs,” he said.

“HCB is more than just parties or a social club — we’re a large community group with more than 500 members, so we’re in a unique position in that we can get positive community messages out quickly and easily through our networks. Yes, we’re keen to do more.”

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