THE sexuality of mentally handicapped people can be a subject fraught with difficulties, and HIV has made the need for education even more important.

An HIV learning 'game', Encounters, will be launched next Tuesday to help people with learning disabilities to understand the dangers of some sexual and life practices, using simple pictures and coloured cards.

One group of cards has figures depicting 'wiping away tears', 'anal intercourse', 'sitting on a bus together'; 'changing a nappy'; 'sharing a needle'. A second group shows a smiling face indicating 'safe', an X for an activity that should not be carried out, or appropriate items to be used, such as a condom or rubber gloves.

The activity cards are laid out and the players, who must have received advice on safe sexual intercourse in advance, must place the appropriate coloured cards on the activity cards. Sitting on a bus should be matched to a smiling face, anal intercourse to a condom; sharing a needle to an X; changing a nappy to a rubber glove.

Encounters has received the approval of Mencap and the Terrence Higgins Trust. Inquiries to Mencap, 071-454 0454.