01.05.2011 If something itches or stings, go and see a doctor
LOVE LIFE campaign. The LOVE LIFE campaign went public in a new and different form in March 2011. Its focus is on sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which are now included in HIV prevention activities. “If something itches or stings, go and see a doctor.” This main message is communicated both clearly and humorously in TV spots, on posters and on web pages.
The campaign aims at raising public awareness of STIs and has been developed by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), the PLANeS Foundation and the Swiss AIDS Federation (AHS). It has been public since 21 March, and a second wave is scheduled for the coming autumn. The latest LOVE LIFE campaign is part of the new National Programme on HIV and Other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) 2011–2017 that the Swiss Government approved last year and in which other STIs apart from HIV have been included for the first time. The inclusion of STIs was due primarily to two factors. Firstly, the number of new cases of STIs is increasing in both Switzerland and other Western European countries. Secondly, the other STIs have an impact on the spread of HIV. People with an STI are more susceptible to HIV. Conversely, those with HIV plus another STI can transmit HIV more easily. A number of European countries have therefore already developed strategies for a combined approach to combating HIV and other STIs.
Rising numbers of sexually transmitted diseases
About 20,000 people with HIV live in Switzerland, and each year between 600 and 800 test positive for the virus. The other STIs are on the increase. They are asymptomatic in many cases, which makes diagnosis more difficult. Moreover, many of them are relatively easy to pass on. If untreated, these infections can have serious effects: chronic disease, cancer, infertility, complications in pregnancy, fetal damage and disabilities in the newborn. In other words, STIs can have grave consequences for those directly affected and are a serious threat to public health. The campaign’s advice to go and see a doctor will probably lead to a rise in the number of STIs diagnosed in the first phase. But treatment of these cases will subsequently bring about a drop in the number of newly diagnosed infections. The target is to bring about a 50% reduction in the number of new infections by 2017.
Additional safer-sex rule
The inclusion of the other STIs in the programme means that the familiar safer-sex rules of «Always use a condom when having penetrative sex» and «No semen in the mouth, don’t swallow semen. No menstrual blood in the mouth, don’t swallow menstrual blood» have had another rule added to them: «If you experience itchiness, stinging or discharge, go and see a doctor at once». A further aim of the campaign is to encourage people with an STI to inform their partners.
Information on the campaign and also a risk check are available at www.check-your-lovelife.ch.