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Episode 2: Sex and Dating

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Voice Over: You're listening to Sex Talk. A podcast all about sex. In this episode expect to hear some colourful language and conversations of a sexual nature. You may want to pop on a pair of headphones for some privacy during this programme.

Voive Over: Coming up on this episode of sex talk:

Jack: We're not telling anybody not to explore their sexuality, not to go on dates or have hook ups, we just want to make sure all of our community is armed with the information that will help them do it safely.

Brigette: I'm very passionate about people's choices and sex, I know we're British but people find it really difficult to talk about and yet everybody has it!

Voice Over: Sex talk, starting a conversation about sex. -

Adele : Hi, welcome to the second episode Sex Talk. I'm Adele Roberts and I'm joined once again by my wonderful co-presenter Hilary Ineomo-Marcus

Hilary: You say that so nice! You're ever so kind.

Adele: I mean it.

Hilary: It's a pleasure to be on this journey once again with you and you know the first episode was always an absolutely grand introduction to the series so I'm really looking forward to today's show.

Adele: It was great, there was swabbing, I can't promise you that in this episode.

Hilary: There won't be much of that today but you're still in for a special treat.

Adele: Without a doubt. This is a podcast all about sex. Throughout the series we'll be delving into different aspects of sex, from sexual health to addiction, sexuality and religion to sex and alcohol. Joining us on this journey will be a host of doctors, therapists, experts and sexperts who share their experience and advice on how to stay safe and healthy. So in the last episode we looked at Sex and your health. In this episode we'll be focusing on Sex and dating!

Hilary: According to a recent survey by Time Out London, the average Londoner will wait 2.4 dates before having sex with a new partner. Research also shows that 72% of people who have had sex with somebody they have met on the dating app, Tinder, had not used protection.

Adele: Online dating is absolutely booming, and it's estimated that 1 in 3 relationships now begin online. The amount of people visiting their doctor with repetitive strain injuries are on the increase because of all the swiping they're doing…. Left and right, can you believe it Hilary?

Hilary: That is a lot of swiping.

Adele : I'm joking of course, but online dating really is huge!

Hilary: It has many benefits, allowing people to make sure they get on with a person before they meet them, and it allows people to look for their perfect match whilst sat in their PJ's on their sofa.

Adele : Do you know you're selling this to me, I got with my girlfriend before online dating happened and you're really making this sound appealing to me.

Hilary: Well…

Adele: PJs on the sofa sounds good.

Hilary: It makes it so easy now, you don't have to go out and meet people you can just find out what they like.

Adele: Yeah totally! It has also made it easier for people to meet up for casual sex which is a huge plus for those who want no strings attached sex. However, by not using protection, it sounds as though a lot of people are putting themselves at risk of catching HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Hilary: Right, I'm going to put that to the test, I'm outside a shopping mall right now and I'm going to speak to some people. I'm going to ask them how safe they are when it comes to sex and dating. Have you ever used a dating app or website to find a partner?

Yes of course.

Yeah.

Yes.

Yep.

Never, I don't trust it.

I prefer to meet people face to face because obviously I don't want to get cat-fished.

Hilary: So now I've got a scale on the cards in front of me okay. The question is how far would you go on a first date on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being absolutely nothing.

10.

**Hilary: ** You're not even going to let me finish the question! And 10 is a condom. So you're saying the first date you're skipping the kissing the holding hands, you're going straight for the…

Straight to the line.

I think just kiss.

I guess it depends on the person. If it goes well probably higher than 5, 6.

It depends on how you get on with the partner. If you're really good you can go to 10 straight away.

First you need 1, after one hour, 10.

The most they'll get is a drink and that's it, let me go home.

From my perspective I'd say I like to know the person first. But I used… I'm not saying I never used to be like that.

Hilary: Have you ever had unprotected sex with a new partner?

No.

I have yeah.

No.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes, I have, yes.

Hilary: So as you can hear it's a bit of a mixed bag but several people are putting themselves at risk by having unprotected sex with new partners and not getting regularly tested.

Adele: Somebody who is a bit of an expert in this field is Jack Harrison-Quintana, Director of 'Grindr for Equality'. He's on the line right now from Washington DC in the United States, where Grindr is based. Hello Jack, thank you for joining us today.

Jack: Hi.

Adele: For those who may not know what it is, could you explain all about Grindr please?

Jack: So Grindr was the first geolocation based dating app for anyone, so all of the straight apps that people use now really came out of an innovation from the LGBTQ community. It allows people to connect with other gay, bi and trans people around them and now even around the world and really just connect to folks for a variety of reasons you know, mostly we talk about it in terms of dating and that's mostly how it's used in the US and the UK but also in parts of the world where there may not be other kinds of ways to easily meet other LGBTQ people, then it really becomes also a community space for a lot of reasons – meeting friends, meeting potential roommates and just finding your community.

Adele: Definitely, and for people, especially younger people that are coming out now that must be such a good tool for them to have if they're a bit worried about meeting new people.

Jack: Certainly, I was in the stage once when all you really want to do is talk to another gay bi or trans person and it gives you the feeling that you're not the only one in the world, you're not the only one in your culture, you're not the only one in your town and that can make a huge difference for people.

Adele: Without a doubt, that was me back in Southport back in the day, I was like I'm the only person and then I realised I wasn't so yeah, totally hear that. So you're the Director of Grindr for Equality, what is Grindr for Equality, and why was it set up?

Jack: Three years ago the founder of Grindr, Joel came to me and said no one has ever used a dating app for social justice before but I can see that we have users in 197 countries and I can really see the potential for it to be used for social justice what do you think about that? And so mainly I separate out the work into health and human rights work. Giving people the information they need to take care of their health including where to get services in their immediate area and key pieces of information that we can give to them in local languages. And then on the human rights side how can you get involved in your area to make your culture, your region, your country, better for LGBT people.

Adele: What a great way to use that tool and that platform and just going back to health it could also be an amazing platform to help tackle STI's and HIV. What is Grindr doing to help educate its users?

Jack: Yeah absolutely. Two years ago we added optional profile fields where you could talk about yourself in terms of sexual health so you can identify your HIV status including being undetectable. You can put the last time that you were tested, people can see a person who tests regularly or tests recently. Around that time we also added the sexual health resource centre and that answers about the top 20 frequently asked questions that we were receiving from our users. We currently have that resource up in 16 languages. By the end of 2018 we're hoping that we're going to have it out in 50. The second thing is that we create partnerships with local HIV organisations all over the world so they can do free advertising to their local area about the services that are available from them. That is hugely helpful to those folks. We're just getting the word out really about the work they're doing and amplifying the work of the health activists that are on the ground in every country. I think the last thing was really about that informational piece. Making sure that people can get information about sexual health that is translated not just into their local language but also really into their cultural context and then bringing the information to where people are.

Adele: Love it, bringing the community in, you're being proactive and positive and just making sure people have fun which is what it's about but also using the platform responsibly.

Jack: Absolutely, and you know all of our sexual health information is really undergirded by that sex positivity. We're not telling anybody not to explore their sexuality, not to go on dates or hook ups, we just want to make sure all of our community is armed with the information that will help them do it safely.

Adele: It's just good to see huge platforms like Grindr trying to get rid of stigma and just letting people know that it's okay to be going through these things, and have different versions of sexual health and it's still okay, you're allowed to date, you're allowed to be out there and having fun.

Jack: Absolutely.

Adele: Jack, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day to talk to us! What you are doing is so important, so we'd better let you get back to work!

Jack: Thank you so much for reaching out.

--WORD PORN IDENT—

Adele: Hillary, I would like to present you with my book again. You like this book! It's your favourite book!

Hilary: I was quite pleased last time you got your book out so hopefully I'll do just as well or even better this time.

Adele: Okay so for anybody who missed our first podcast – listen first of all, and secondly we played with a sex dictionary because we're trying to extend our vocab. So you need to pick another letter for me please.

Hilary: I'm going to keep it simple, I'm going to go A for Adele.

Adele: So we're going to go through the dictionary, I'm going to pick a word with the letter A and you have to guess what it means. Here we go – a a a a. aidocratia. It sounds like a new nation. I'm from aidocratia.

Hilary: Yeah, it sounds like it's in Asia somewhere.

Adele: Are you aidocratian?

Hilary: I might be aidocratian!

Adele: Right do you want a clue?

Hilary: Please I need help!

Adele: What does it mean when somebody gets pink cheeks?

Hilary: Blush.

Adele: Yes, okay. So what is it about blushing that this word could mean?

Hilary: I'm lost.

Adele: Okay so if a woman blushes and she bats her eyelids what would that mean to you?

Hilary: She's flustered, she's hot under the collar.

Adele: And what would that make you feel like?

Hilary: I'd be aroused.

Adele: Yes! So aidocratia is sexual arousal in a man caused by the bashfulness of a woman.

Hilary: I love the play on words in this dictionary.

Adele: It's very eloquent isn't.

Hilary: Very well put. Great clues by the way. So how do you pronounce it?

Adele: Very good question, I'm saying aidocratia. Or it could be adocrasia.

Voice Over: You're listening to Sex Talk. Join the conversation online, #SexTalkPod -

Hilary: On this edition of Sex Talk we're talking all about dating. As we just heard, dating apps are stepping up and doing their bit to promote safe sex, but the responsibility can't just lie with them, surely the users of dating apps have to take some responsibility too?

Adele: Absolutely, which is why we've just been joined by Sexpert, Brigette Bard. Brigette has spoken a lot about sexual health and online dating, and is the founder and CEO of BioSure, who create home testing kits for HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections. Welcome to the podcast Brigette!

Brigette: Thank you so much for having me here.

Hilary: Welcome. Can I just say I'm well jealous of your tan. Well jealous, and I'm dark skinned! You've just come back from holiday right?

Brigette: Well I was working in Brazil because HIV's a global problem so yeah I have a super exciting interesting job, I'm very lucky.

Adele: That's a good point, it is global. I'm sure you don't have to pop to Brazil all the time that's obviously a good part of your job but can you tell us a little about what you do, and what your day to day job involves?

Brigette: We have worked in the sexual health space for a long time and we're really very specialist in HIV and diagnostics so we developed a product which is super easy to use, very accurate, all of the things you would expect and we launched that into the UK in 2015 and it's really on a global roll out now. For a long time HIV really was a death sentence and we now say HIV is three letters, not a sentence because the treatments have moved on so much now that with a one tablet a day regime you can live a completely normal length healthy life, do everything you want to do, having children, you can do anything as long as you're diagnosed. On the day someone's diagnosed it's shocking and it's awful but actually you had HIV the day before, you just didn't know, so being diagnosed is actually a cause for celebration that now you protect your health and you live your life and you don't pass it on and changing that mind set from it being devastating to it actually being something really good is part of this motivational conversation.

Hilary: I mean listen, Brigette, there's no hiding the fact that you're passionate. So I guess what I really want to know is what made you become interested in sexual health and want to get into it?

Brigette: I'm very passionate about people's choices and sex – I know we're British but people find it really difficult to talk about and yet everybody has sex, pretty much everybody enjoys sex and then there's this whole guilt thing wrapped around it. Sex is a really intimate thing and yet people can't talk about it even between partnerships. I think there's so much change to be made and so many things to make people feel better about themselves.

Adele: You write about sex and also about dating as well. So some of my friends are trying to find partners but then they're like 'oh I downloaded Tinder' and it's like that's okay, that's alright. So dating is something that you talk about openly as well which is great, do you have any interesting dating stories of your own that you can share?

Brigette: Well I'll hold my hands up and say I've actually only used dating apps for my work aspect and I mean I am on Grindr which I probably shouldn't say, because we advertise on Grindr and it is a great tool and it does get people talking. You're saying people are embarrassed about it, there's so much self-imposed guilt and all these things, I think, why do people feel that? It's fun but we have these self-imposed beliefs that we should feel bad or should feel guilty. I don't know, maybe it's our upbringing I don't know. It's certainly not in us genetically or we wouldn't be here!

Adele: Do you think there's a lot to be done on the mental side of it? Because you've mentioned a lot of things up until this point about what we think, people don't really talk about the mind.

Brigette: I know, and as Jack said the more you talk about this the more you can enjoy it and I think it is just having more thoughtfulness and conversation, normal conversation, is key, it really is.

Hilary: Talking about conversations, recently there's been a lot of talk about online dating and STIs, now what do you think about online dating?

Brigette: I think online dating is great. Everyone's so busy, everyone's got a phone in their hand and if you want to meet someone to go out with, someone to have a drink with, someone to have sex with, that should be within our control. I think the media, they love to sensationalise things don't they? And again it's the old finger pointing. To me online dating is a great thing, you have to do it on your terms. It's not a scape goat for… making people have more sex or less sex or… It's just on your terms isn't it really?

Voice Over: Sex talk, word porn. -

Hilary: It's time for me to take control.I'm bringing a big dictionary.

Adele: I'm bringing sexy back.

Hilary: Alright cool so if it's the first time you're listening to this usually we bring out a big sex dictionary and we ask each other for a letter from the alphabet and we go to the dictionary, I find a word that Adele has to tell me what the definition is, or vice versa. So now Adele it's your turn, what letter are you going for?

Adele: Can I have a B please Bob?

Hillary: Countdown.

Adele: No it's not countdown! It's Blockbusters!

Hilary: Adele, could you tell me what is the definition of darksetting.

Adele: No it's my accent – b for birds.

Hilary: Okay sorry.

Adele: Do you want me to take a D? No seriously I'm asking!

Hilary: Take a D.

Adele: Say the word again.

Hilary: Darksetting.

Adele: When you dye your hair?

Hilary: No.

Adele: Okay, sex isn't it, darksetting, is that when you have sex with the lights turned off?

Hilary: Do you know what I will give you that Adele. Only because it's to do with night, courting at night – rarely heard today, possibly obsolete, but yeah, I think we've all done that.

Adele: That's a romantic one, that's a sweet one. Darksetting, that's nice.

Hilary: Exactly, it's really posh, it's a posh way – it's the way posh people court each other, they dark set.

Adele: Okay Adele, it's time to put your sex book away and get back into our conversation with Brigette.

  • -- Voice Over: Sex talk, with your hosts Adele and Hilary –

Adele: It's great to hear people like you and Jack speak actually because I'm like, right, I'm joining Grindr, I'm getting on it.

Hilary: You also mentioned you use it in a work capacity, how useful has it been for you to be part of the environment and the culture in a professional capacity?

Brigette: it's really insightful actually. We call it a before the party and an after the party conversation so all of the communication on the Friday night before everything is all about the excitement, so it's when you really should be thinking about buying condoms and all of those types of things, and it's all exciting. Then you get to Monday morning, after your weekend and it's like 'eugh', and all the depressing conversation.

Adele: In your line of work you must meet people in Monday mode, what you were just talking about, and it must be really hard for you to get them to open up about their sex lives and if you do get to that point, how open are they and what concerns do they have once they've used these apps and then they've had sex, what are they most concerned about?

Brigette: Again it's this kind of self-stigmatisation. Everybody makes mistakes, everybody makes all different choices, so it's making someone feel confident in moving forward from that. What we're trying to do really is prevent that Monday morning conversation so by Friday you're already in control of it and you've had that foresight to think I will do this or I won't do that. Look, at the end of the day condoms protect you from virtually all STIs pretty much and if you're confident enough to go and have sex with someone you should feel confident in yourself to use a condom.

  • -- Voice Over: Sex Talk –

Hilary: Do you have any top tips for people to keep safe while using online dating apps?

Brigette: Physical safety is one thing, so don't ever go anywhere where someone doesn't know where you're going. Girlfriends of mine who are on Tindr and things like that, we've got a 9 o clock Whatsapp message saying oh you know 'babysitter's not turned up, I've got to go home' so you've got that excuse, that is a good one actually – a get out of jail card.

Adele: I'm having that, writing that down. That's a great trick.

Birigette: If it's all going well then you can say oh no, no it's fine. But if you're going into a situation where there is a likelihood of having sex then just have condoms on you and that's male or female. Women don't always carry condoms, it's the maddest thing. They're worried about getting pregnant so you're on the pill, you have an injection, something long lasting, it only protects you against getting pregnant, and don't just have one condom or even two to be honest because people do it in the night and then they wake up in the morning to find condoms and you're like 'yeah okay we'll be alright'.

Hilary: But then don't you also think sometimes for females carrying things like condoms around, that could potentially give the wrong idea to the man?

Brigette: Maybe that's like a society thing because in my mind that would be someone who's responsible and in control of how they think and how they feel. Because you carry condoms it doesn't mean you're going to have sex, it means that if you are going to have sex then you're prepared for that so I think there's some possibly gender issues around that. All of this is mind changing stuff about perception.

Adele: There's a lot of work to be done. We're in a good place but I think it can definitely get better, especially with society like you say. It's fabulous to hear about the great work that BioSure do and you create self-testing kits for HIV. Could you explain what the tests are and how people can get hold of them?

Brigette: You can buy these on Amazon and Superdrug and places like that. There's our own website which has got loads of information which is HIVselftest.co.uk. It's incredibly easy to use, a very accurate very simple test so it's a fingerprint test but it's kind of like a BIC pen, you prick your finger, it sucks up a tiny drop of blood and in 15 minutes you've got a very accurate result and it's the same fundamentally as a pregnancy test. One line is negative, two lines is positive.

Adele: You're holding up the test there, it looks like a little thermometer? Easily pop that in your bag can't you?

Brigette: Yeah, you can have them at home. This isn't a replacement for clinical testing. If that's what suits you and there are some cracking clinics which are really easy to get into.

Adele: So Brigette why is the work that you do so important to you?

Brigette: Well there's a plan from the UN actually, a global plan to eradicate HIV which is phenomenal and it's only possible now because the treatments are so good that when you're on treatment the virus is suppressed so it becomes undetectable as Jack mentioned and you then cannot pass the virus on. It is called the 90/90 programme and the ambition is to diagnose 90% of people who have HIV and get 90% of those people onto treatment. If we can do that by 2020 then HIV transmission will stop and the epidemic will be finished by 2030 so it's aspirational but scale put of testing, getting more and more people to test because at the moment the HIV aware people are high risk groups, but general population don't. So yeah get testing guys.

Hilary: Brigette, can't thank you enough.

Brigette: I feel like I've spoken a lot, thank you so much for having me.

Hilary: It's been absolutely wonderful having you – you brought a ray of sunshine into our show today. So thank you very much for joining us on this edition of Sex Talk.

Brigette: Thank you for having me.

Hilary : The home testing kits Brigette talked about are very similar to the tests I did last week with Dr Stuart. If your test is reactive you need to visit a sexual health clinic or your doctor to receive a confirmation test to confirm you have the virus. You will then be supported by the NHS who will talk you through the treatment. As we've mentioned, the earlier you start treatment the better. Home testing kits are really convenient and discreet but they might not be for everyone. If you're anxious about taking a HIV test I would recommend visiting your local clinic. There are people who can support you, Positively UK can offer advice. Their helpline is open Mondays to Friday 10am-4pm on 02077130444.

  • -- Voice Over: Sex Talk -

Hilary: We've already come to the end of this edition of Sex Talk! In the next episode we'll be looking at Sex Addiction.

Adele: Yep, it's definitely going to be an interesting one! We hope you've enjoyed listening! We'd like to thank Jack and Brigette for talking to us about the wonderful world of online dating! If you'd like to find out more about Sex Talk you can visit our website, sextalk.radio Until next time, stay safe, and know your status!

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