Clonezone: The Gay Store that wants YOU to TEST for HIV Testing Week 2019

Clonezone stores have always been about sex, therefore we have a responsibility to the community. We have pushed the importance of safe and consensual playtime since day one back in 1982. It’s not only important for us to be involved with HIV Testing Week, but it’s also vital. Our stores have served as a one-stop-shop for sex education over the years and we’ve witnessed the treatment surrounding HIV evolve, alongside times and attitudes changing. Our teams assisted those suffering through the AIDS crisis and we were here at the inception of PEP and the introduction of PrEP. We have regular rapid HIV testing happening in all of our UK locations. With all of this in mind, I spoke to my colleagues about why It Starts With Me’s #HIVTestWeek and HIV testing is important to them and why. 

Aiden Roach: Clonezone’s Customer Service Manager

“Over the past 10 years, I’ve met and had relationships with the most amazing people who have had HIV enter their lives. Through their experiences it has made me see how important it is to get tested, but has also taught me the meaning of undetectable, and how they are unable to pass the virus on. With the information being given more light publicly, and PrEP being more accessible, I’m hoping the stigma of HIV from the past will slowly vanish, and with the right care people realise they can still live a normal day to day life if it does affect them one day.”

David Walker: Clonezone’s Purchasing Manager

“Testing for HIV, having the knowledge of your status is important for your health, your relationships, your life, and your future. For myself, having a past relationship with a partner who was positive, while we were always safe, I knew it was important to get checked regardless to ensure I knew my status. With the introduction of PrEP, we now have a way to prevent passing on HIV, but we must remember that this is only one of a number of preventative methods and not a cure, it is still all our responsibility to get checked.”

Me: Clonezone’s PR & Brand Manager

“I had an experience when I was 21 which resulted in me having to go to A&E and immediately on to a month’s course of PEP which was a horrible experience. This scared me into taking my sexual health seriously. I’ve always been very regimented with my GUM clinic routine, and visit the amazing team at Jefferiss Wing at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington once every three months for my tests. I see my GUM clinic visit as my personal MOT and there’s very little that’ll stop me from going.”

Mark A: Clonezone’s Lead Graphic Designer

“I’ve tested regularly since the mid-90s, back in the days when you had to wait six weeks for your results, but with the availability of rapid results you’re in and out within minutes. We all know the importance of early diagnosis and treatment but the test also gives me peace of mind, not only for myself but also for guys I play with. When it comes to knowing your HIV status, I honestly think that it’s better to be in a place of knowledge than ignorance.”

Thomas Beranger a.k.a MOTO The Pup:
Stark Distributions Wholesale Manager

“I was a bit clueless about HIV and other STDs when I arrived in London. Coming from a very small French town I had been poorly educated on them. It’s only when I started being very sexually active, and when I educated myself about LGBTQ+ history that I realised how important being tested was, not only for my personal health, but also because I think we owe it to that whole generation who disappeared due to the AIDS crisis. We have access to so many options now to prevent HIV from spreading, so let’s fucking use them!”

Iasmina: Clonezone’s Office Manager

“Genitals are a lot of fun, STDs not so much. It is a moral requirement to be tested, for yourself and especially your partners. It’s so simple to find your local GUM clinic and if you cannot make the trip, there are kits which are easily accessible on the internet.”

Monique Carty: Managing Director at Nexus Range Sex Toys

“It’s crazy to think in this day and age that I still encounter people who think that HIV is a ‘gay’ disease.  STIs, STDs and HIV do not discriminate and its super important for everyone, whatever their sexual orientation to protect themselves; and, if they are ever compromised to get tested. You should never play the lottery with your sexual health because it’s not just your health you’re playing with. Respect yourself and respect others.”

Richard Tropez: Clonezone’s Operations Manager

“If I could say something to my younger self, it would to be to never take my mental and/or sexual health for granted. As a gay guy on the scene, I’ve had the importance of testing enforced mostly by watching people I care about fall into toxic behavioural patterns. I make a point of going to a GUM clinic every three months and when I can’t make it to a clinic, I request a home testing kit.”