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Byline: Kat Baldwyn

BIRMINGHAM medics are holding a Christmas parade with a twist to raise awareness about the importance of safe sex after seeing a 428 per cent rise in HIV in the West Midlands over the last decade.

In collaboration with South Birmingham College, HIV experts from Birmingham Heartlands Department of Sexual Health have created Beer Goggles Johnny, a person-sized cartoon condom, wearing aviator goggles.

Johnny is touring the city's nightspots to arm revellers with the knowledge they need to stay safe.

Dr John Watson, of Heartlands HIV Service, said: "One in four of those with HIV don't know it. People who don't know they have HIV cannot access the life-saving treatment doctors can now offer.

"They may also be spreading their infection to other sexual partners without even knowing it."

In its early stages, HIV is often without symptoms meaning that it can be difficult to spot without a blood test.

Beer Goggles Johnny is an attempt to reach groups who are often resistant to sexual health messages such as young people who may not remember the AIDS scare of the 1980s, and heterosexuals who sometimes still believe themselves not to be at risk of contracting HIV.

"Johnny and his humorous slogans are a colourful means of catching the attention of people not always on the look out for the latest sexual health advice."

Eileen Simmonds, head of fashion at South Birmingham College, said: "It's been a fantastically educational project for our students, not to mention a lot of fun. Let's hope all their hard work will translate into the public health benefits the Heartlands HIV Service are working towards." Have paying By Tom Beer Goggles Johnny is promoting a triple message about the dangers of excessive alcohol, the importance of using condoms and the benefits of regular testing for HIV and STIs throughout the festive season. YOUNG people are being retain their to ensure that they the festive ones.

Dr Watson added: "Our aim is to diagnose the 22,000 people living the UK Brook sexual health under 25s, sharp fall in visitors in drop-in centre who are infected with HIV but do not know it." recording a after the New Penny Barber,


Attention-grabbing: Beer Goggles Johnny is aimed at helping young people.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Dec 28, 2010
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