Health at the Festival

Even if you throw yourself into the whirlwind of festival merriment, remember to take care of yourself. That’s the only way to truly enjoy Prague Pride and remember it fondly.

We know that’s what your mum says at home, but she’s right:

The summer heat in the city is treacherous. Don’t forget to drink plenty of non-alcoholic drinks. Your body loses fluids quickly, and it would be really stupid to dehydrate and end up needing medical attention.

Eating is essential, even if you’re trying to slim down for your fabulous Pride Parade costume. If you skip breakfast and lunch, don’t be surprised if you faint and the fun comes to an end.

There’s nothing worse than falling asleep in the sun without sunscreen. Even sunburned earlobes can give you a hard time. Take a bottle of sunscreen with you every day, unless there’s thick cloud cover.

Wash your hands often and ideally carry a bottle of hand sanitizer. After all, you’re going to meet loads of people, all touching the same spots at the vending stands, on the railings, by the toilets. The runs are the last thing you want to deal with – especially when the only thing nearby are porta-potties.

Mental Health

Sometimes it’s the huge crowd, blaring music, bad air pressure before a storm, or maybe you just overdid it yesterday. If you start feeling off, don’t push yourself – take a break. There’s a Pride HideOUT mental retreat in Pride Village and on Saturday in Pride Park. You’ll find cozy pillows, earplugs, and some peace and quiet. Escape for a bit and catch your breath. Crisis interventionists will be there too, ready to help you manage an anxiety attack.

Morning with a Clear Head

You made your bed, now lie in it. The Harm Reduction teams will be at Pride Park and the Horečka / Fever official afterparty at Mecca Club on Saturday, providing a safe space in the dance and nightlife scene. They’ll help you minimize risks from legal and illegal drugs (yes, even alcohol). They can keep you hydrated, get you some stomach-friendly snacks like fruit, and generally help you feel better. If you’re feeling unwell after taking any substance, these folks are your go-to for non-judgmental support.

Party Harm Reduction by The Progressive o.p.s. will be at Letná, and the Hard&Smart by Podané ruce organization will be at the official afterparty at Mecca Club. Big thanks to them for making Prague Pride safer.

HIV Testing

Prague Pride is the perfect opportunity to get tested and catch up on the latest HIV prevention and treatment info.

The Czech AIDS Help Society’s testing tent will be open from Monday to Friday in Pride Village and on Saturday in Pride Park at Letná. You can get a free and anonymous test for HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B, and C. The whole process only takes a few minutes since you can fill out the pre-test questionnaire online.
At the testing tent, the health staff will do a quick test using a drop of blood from your finger. You’ll be identified by an ID number, so no one will ask for your name. Within about half an hour, you’ll get a text on your phone letting you know the test results are available online. If the result isn’t clearly negative, they’ll take a venous blood sample and send it to the National HIV/AIDS Reference Laboratory for confirmation. This will determine whether it was a false alarm or if you need to start treatment. Don’t worry – most lab tests on a reactive rapid test come back negative.

What does a negative rapid test mean? The test doesn’t detect HIV virus itself but looks for specific proteins (antigens and antibodies) that the body produces in response to HIV. These take at least two months to develop. So, if you have had sex in the last two months, a negative test result won’t confirm you’re currently HIV-free – it only shows you were HIV-free two months ago. That’s why it’s recommended for people with an active sex life to get tested regularly, at least every three months.

Modern HIV Treatment

If started on time, current antiretroviral treatment allows people with HIV to enjoy the same life expectancy and quality of life as everyone else. There’s no reason to avoid testing out of fear of a positive result anymore. In fact, it’s better to diagnose any possible infection early and ensure a normal life with treatment.

Only someone unaware of their HIV status poses a risk to others nowadays, as they might unknowingly spread the virus. A diagnosed person on treatment usually gets their viral load below detectable levels very quickly (called zero viral load). If they maintain this for at least six months, they can’t transmit the virus to anyone. This is known as the U=U (undetectable = untransmittable) rule, and it’s backed by many scientific studies.

If you think living with HIV is okay today and easier than protecting yourself from contracting it, get that nonsense out of your head right now. Living with HIV means a lifetime on medication, regular medical check-ups, increased need for proper healthcare, and sticking to a healthy lifestyle. It also involves the tough process of accepting your diagnosis and dealing with the stigma that still exists in our society. Most guys will tell you that coming out as HIV+ was much harder than coming out as gay. So don’t be foolish – protect yourself.

HIV prevention

Until recently, the vast majority of HIV infections occurred among men who have sex with men. But this is no longer completely the case, and the virus is once again spreading among the straight population (and it is not due to the arrival of the refugee wave from Ukraine). So we are all at risk.

As for many types of sexual activities, the risk of contracting HIV is zero or minimal. You’re fine with kissing, oral sex, mutual masturbation.

Unprotected anal sex has 20 times the risk of infection than vaginal sex. Here are the ways you can protect yourself from HIV:
– condoms (you can pick up free Durex and Primeros condoms at the festival venues)

– taking PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis; a preventive drug that stops you getting HIV once it enters your body). Taking PrEP for a long time is a burden on the body, so you need to have a medical check-up first and monitor your condition regularly with your doctor. Never order from the internet, go to a Czech AIDS Help Society (ČSAP) PrEPpoint.

– having sex with an HIV+ person whose viral load has been below detectable levels by repeated testing for at least six months. The vast majority of HIV-positive people treated in the Czech Republic are non-infectious.

– use of PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis). If you had a wild night and suspect that you may have been infected, you can take a combination of antiretroviral drugs within 72 hours of exposure to prevent HIV from multiplying and spreading in your body. PEP has to be prescribed by a doctor, you don’t just get it at the pharmacy as an “after pill” against getting pregnant. And you have to pay for it yourself.

Remember, HIV is not the only sexually transmitted disease. PrEP and PEP won’t protect you from the others, which include syphilis, hepatitis B and C, gonorrhea, HPV, chlamydia, and others.