Unsafe Sex in the City

Publish Date: 14/11/2012

Unsafe Sex in the City chronicles the daily routine of the staff at Manchester Centre for Sexual Health along with exploring the lives, loves and the ‘devil may care’ attitude to unprotected sex of its many patients. As the programme focused mainly on young people we asked two young men for their thoughts on the programme.

Simon Kowalski asks: Are we in danger of normalising carefree attitudes to sex?

 Raising awareness to sexual health is always a good thing and with the BBC showing ‘Unsafe Sex in the City’ the programme highlights the real problems with sexual health education, or rather the lack of it. Highlighting how uneducated 15-24 year olds are about sexual health and safer sex shows the risks that young people take are phenomenal and the attitudes expressed show why sexual health is a big problem in the UK.

However, although statistics around HIV are given, I believe the way the information is presented does not educate people about how the virus is contracted, nor fails to dispel the myth that HIV is carried only by gay men. I feel that the BBC does not help with the stigma HIV causes amongst men who have sex with men.

What the BBC does do well is highlight how unprotected sex is still an issue among young people. I was surprised with so many people practicing unsafe sex, given that contraception is offered freely through sexual health clinics, doctor’s surgeries and other outlets. I believe the show highlights just how serious the problem in the UK has become, but one of my concerns is that the programme could do the opposite of what it hopes to achieve. With insights into the attitudes of the patients it could ‘normalise’ the carefree attitude towards sexual health and some of the issues regarding sexual health could be seen as unimportant.

Having said that however, the staff at the clinic are brilliant at dealing with patients and I feel the friendly attitude is why most have repeat check-ups  because let’s be honest, although a perfectly normal thing to do, having a sexual health check-up can be embarrassing and stressful to say the least.


Stuart Waters suggests that the programme should be mandatory viewing in schools. 

Whilst the producers of the show choose to portray the patients as clueless sex hungry teens, exploding with infections and sexual offences, they could simply be seen as seeking their 15 minutes of fame in one of the worst possible ways.With STI’s being as prevalent as they are, why isn’t more being done to educate young people about them today?

Thinking back to my lessons in sexual health we were simply shown how to put a condom on a banana, given a brief explanation about where babies came from and shown an old cartoon about getting hairs in unexpected places. We had absolutely nothing explained to us about sexually transmitted infections.

Whilst things have slowly moved on from then, things are gradually getting worse for many young people having sex without thought or responsibility. The government could run all the ad campaigns it wants, they simply won’t reach this group because STI’s are still on the increase, as are unplanned teenage pregnancies.

As trashy as they might seem. should programs like this become mandatory viewing in schools? The program brutally shows the effects of unsafe sex in a series of rectal swabs, blood tests, ‘drippy willies’ and the agonising wait for results. For me at least, very little else drives home the risks of unprotected sex like watching a grown man break down on camera after receiving a positive HIV diagnosis. If not this then what else could possibly work?

And remember people - Gonorrhoea is on the rise, and it’s building up a resistance to treatment!
If you wanted to get checked out for anything The LGF have a range of services and outreach clinics each Monday, testing for Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, HIV and Hepatitis B.

To find out more abut testing: http://lgbt.foundation/testing

Manchester Centre for Sexual Health: http://www.manchestersexualhealth.org/

Unsafe Sex in the City: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01ms3hs