As the fourth day of the #AIDS2020 drew to a close, I was happy with what I had found. I attended the third pleasure session that was highlighted on our list, and I also found some positivity along the way.

The Oral Abstract Session “Pleasure, Prevention or Fear: far reaching effects of online messaging and mHealth interventions” included pleasure in Emily Land’s presentation (Promoting anal health and pleasure with a community driven social marketing campaign). She spoke on behalf of the findings of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation from their social media campaigns around anal health. This campaign was designed in a fun and playful way in order to effectively promote pleasure through health.

They gender neutral mascot ‘Douchie‘ provides an easily read online campaign, “Butt Health”, to introduce the benefits of anal health and how proper anal care can lead to more pleasurable sexual interactions.

From their ‘Butt Health’ campaign

Their goals was to fill the gap in education with more sex-positive and relatable content for people who have anal intercourse. Emily presented findings from a survey entitled ‘Pain and Pleasure During Sex‘. Some participants noted that the use of lube helped with the pain, and others said that the pain heightened sensations. Surveys like these are important in order to deliver approachable and appropriate sex-positive advice for your campaign audience.

Part of Douchie’s Top Tips series

Pleasure inclusive and sex-positive campaigns can prove to be useful for reaching audiences and issues that might sometimes be pushed to the margins. Pleasure inclusivity gave this campaign a relatable and human-centered draw and can make sex education more effective for young people.

Did I find any other pleasure inclusivity today?

Although that oral abstract could allow me to tick my pleasure box, I did not stop there. But what I did find was mention of condoms, condoms, and more condoms! WHO, UNDP, UN Women and Youth Against AIDS had booths (virtual of course) with links to some of their various resources.

WHO’s booth included information on how there is a lack of information on prevention about condom programming. It stated that messages should include information on HIV prevention interventions and how to access such interventions such as male and female condoms. And you all know how The Pleasure Project is famous for their female condom demos…

UNDP promoted condom use as prevention methods for women and girls. This prevention education is working towards empowerment and confidence of girls in their sex lives. UNDP regarded this in relation to the achievement of SDG 5: Gender Equality. The equality that includes empowerment, and to achieve empowerment, there is a need for more access to sexual and reproductive health information and services. This was similar to the UN Women booth as they showed an increase in condom use when there is an increase in comprehensive sex education. And as we know CSE increased young girls condom use. As a young woman, I think that CSE is very important for girls and women around the world, especially since I was never actually taught how to use a condom (let alone even told about the existence of female condoms).

UNDP also found that condoms are still needed even with the presence of PrEP. They found that in communities where PrEP is more widely used, there are increases in transmissions of other sexually transmitted diseases. And although PrEP should still be used to treat HIV, condom use needs to be more widely promoted in order to achieve the safest sexual outcomes.

Youth Against AIDS had a campaign to make condom distribution easier for young people, and they had a movement to instal more condom dispensers. These pro-condom resources are increasing the awareness of the need for greater CSE. However, my view is that this uptake can be greater enhanced with the inclusion of pleasure in a real and appealing way. The campaigns led by young people is of course a positive affirmation that our voices are heard, but it is vital that these campaigns address the main reasons why people have sex, PLEASURE. But of course, that is the next step! #pleasurematters