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Saturday 10 October 2009

Calling all Sexually Adventurous Men - Meet SAM!

Posted in: Features, Safe Sex
By Matt Akersten - 16th June 2009

Meet SAM: The NZ AIDS Foundation's newest safe sex info service
"It's OK to be nervous," says SAM. "Take your time and let your eyes adjust to the light. Check the place out and try to relax. Have fun, play safe… respect other guys' boundaries just as you want them to respect yours."

SAM - short for 'Sexually Adventurous Men' - is ready to meet you at three all-male sex-on-site venues: Auckland's Lateshift and Centurian, and Christchurch's Menfriends. A world-first new idea for getting safer sex messages out in places where men meet, it's proving popular already - when SAM was installed at Lateshift last month, it had 271 hits in the first week.

How does SAM work? It's a touch-screen information service on hooking up and sexual health, including a video showing how to put a condom on, 'mythbusting' news about safer sex, a check-up booking service, and sign-up form for more information to be emailed to your inbox, or condoms to be sent to your address.

Getting it on: A screenshot from SAM

The NZ AIDS Foundation's National Partnerships Co-ordinator Ben Barratt-Boyes says he's happy with the initial user response to SAM, and is hoping to feature the service in other locations, and online soon.

"I can see how many people have looked at it so far and I've been blown away with the response. Many people have read every page," Ben explains.

The information on SAM is deliberately set out in pro-sexual, non-judgemental, easy to understand language. "We designed it to be like a chat with someone you trust. It's important that we get the right information out to guys in a way that's interactive. Not everyone knows everything about how to protect themselves."

The 'mythbusting' section is particularly useful to help dispel misconceptions about safer sex, says Ben. "For example, some guys think that sex without a condom is OK as long as you pull out before you cum - but that's not going to reduce your risk of HIV, since the virus exists in pre-cum too."

One popular section of SAM is a video showing how to put on a condom correctly. No cartoons here - it's a real dick, attached to a willing volunteer. Other sections look at what to expect at sex-on-site venues, signs of sexually transmitted infections to look out for, details of where to go to get HIV tested and a booking service for check-ups, and even a quiz.

"We have the ability to add more information, news, competitions and interactive opportunities to SAM in the future," says Ben. "We'll do what we can to give people more reasons to check it out."

SAM is a world-first of its kind, and now the Aussies are interested in adapting the technology for their own use in sex hotspots. Here in New Zealand though, we hope more SAMs will roll out soon - so if you're out for a sexual adventure, look for one near you.

Matt Akersten - 16th June 2009

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