People attending Walsall Pride this August Bank Holiday are being encouraged to stay happy, healthy and safe while enjoying the celebrations.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary (delayed due to the pandemic) on Saturday 27 August 2022, Walsall Pride will celebrate diverse communities in and around Walsall at Walsall Arboretum.
Staff from Walsall Integrated Sexual Health (WiSH) will be at Pride again this year to highlight the support available for people of all ages in the borough. They will be handing out free condoms, promoting online sexual health testing kits, offering some Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea screening, and sharing information about monkeypox.
Tanya Grainger, Senior Sister in Sexual Health, said: “Walsall Pride is a fantastic event which provides a supportive, inclusive space for the LGBTQI+ community and we’re looking forward to joining the party at Walsall Arboretum on Saturday!
“It’s an opportunity to promote the services we offer and we know that with monkeypox very much in the news at the moment, some visitors may want to find out more.
“We can remind people about the symptoms which are recent unexpected/unusual spots, ulcers, or blisters anywhere on the body, fever, headaches, muscle aches, chills and exhaustion and swollen glands. Symptoms can take up to three weeks to appear after being in contact with someone who has the infection.
“Monkeypox can be spread through close physical contact such as skin to skin, kissing, sex or sharing bedding and towels. Anyone with these symptoms should avoid events and close physical contact and call NHS 111 or their sexual health clinic for advice.
“But visitors can ask us absolutely anything related to sexual health on Saturday and we’ll give them all the advice they need to stay safe and well.”
Advice has also been issued by Public Health to everyone attending Pride on how to take care of themselves and others:
If you feel unwell, try to stay at home and avoid passing on illness to others.
With the weather looking like it is going to be hot, stay hydrated by drinking water, especially if you are drinking alcohol.
Try to keep cool when the sun is hot, usually between the hours of 11am and 3pm. Find shade, use suncream and look out for signs of sunburn or heat exhaustion.
Keep washing your hands or use hand sanitiser as it stops the spread of illnesses such as COVID-19.
There is always a healthy and safe way to have sex. Use protection such as condoms.
Stephen Gunther, Director of Public Health, said: “We want everyone to have fun at Walsall Pride. It is the first time it has been held in person for several years due to the pandemic.
“Illnesses like COVID-19 and monkeypox are still circulating, so it is important that people are aware of the signs and symptoms.
“The figures for monkeypox have been steadily rising in the West Midlands region, now standing at 104 confirmed and highly probable cases as of 23 August 2022.
“While anyone can catch monkeypox, the majority of monkeypox cases in the UK continue to be in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM), with the virus being passed on mainly through close contact between people in interconnected sexual networks.
“You are extremely unlikely to have monkeypox if you have not been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox or has monkeypox symptoms. However, it is important to check yourself regularly.
“COVID-19 is still around and causing illness. No one wants to miss out, but if you feel unwell, have a temperature or flu or COVID-like symptoms, try to stay at home if you can and avoid contact with other people until you feel better to resume normal activities.”