Date Published: 14 April 2009

THT and regional partners aim to roll out Play Zone nationally

After a successful pilot in London and Brighton, Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) is working with a range of regional HIV and sexual health organisations to launch Play Zone across England and Wales. Play Zone is a code of good practice which aims to create a safer environment in venues where sex between men might occur.

Play Zone: Code of Good Practice is funded through the national HIV prevention programme. Venues which sign up to the Code pledge to ensure that sexual health, hygiene and health and safety standards are being met. The Code also aims to raise awareness around sexual health and help to reduce the number of new STI and HIV infections. Saunas and other venues voluntarily participate in the Code giving a clear message that they recognise the importance of providing a safe, clean environment for customers and staff. The scheme was developed in partnership with a number of organisations including the Department of Health, the Health Protection Agency and the Police.

THT is working with local HIV and sexual health organisations in Leicester, Nottingham, Manchester, Birmingham, Coventry, Sheffield, Cardiff, Liverpool and Newcastle. The local charities will liaise with venue owners in their area to encourage them to sign up. Doing so allows them to show a commitment to the sexual health of their customers and the wider gay community, to gain a nationally recognised seal of good practice and to partner with similar venues throughout the country on improving sexual health.

All venues and staff receive a manual to guide them through the process and free training is available for venue staff on HIV, sexual health, PEP, drug and alcohol awareness and first aid. Venues that meet the standards set out in the Code receive Play Zone branding and certificates to display – making it easier for customers to identify a venue participating in the scheme.

The principles laid out within the Code include setting minimum standards in:

* Condom and lubricant distribution and access
* Ensuring that information on sexual health is available
* Staff training on sexual health, HIV, Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) and drug and alcohol awareness
* Staff vaccinations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and tetanus
* Health and safety training
* First aid training
* Lighting at venues
* Cleaning of venues

Marc Thompson, Head of Health Promotion at Terrence Higgins Trust said:

We're really pleased to be working with other HIV organisations across England to roll out Play Zone nationally. If men are having sex in these venues, we want them to be doing it as safely as possible. Venues that participate in Play Zone give a clear message to customers that condoms will be available and sexual health is taken seriously.”

 

Source: Terrence Higgins Trust (THT).

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