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22 Jan 2010

Mplus Thailand produces animations for HIV/AIDS outreach and prevention

Chiangmai's Mplus, a community-based men's sexual health organisation, last year launched four animated videos for the four communities they are trying to reach: young MSM, transgenders, Thai and migrant male sex workers and 'hidden MSM'.

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Responding to an alarming rise in HIV incidence among MSM in Thailand, Mplus, a community-based organisation formed to improve the sexual health of men that have sex with men (MSM), produced animations for their HIV/AIDS outreach and prevention programs. The animations are new educational resources produced to increase understandings of safe sex practices and address low perceptions of personal risk to HIV/AIDS among Chiang Mai’s diverse MSM population.

Mplus works to provide HIV/AIDS outreach and prevention to the diverse community of MSM in Chiang Mai. This includes men who identify as gay or bisexual, transgenders, Thai and migrant male sex workers and “hidden” MSM who can be homosexual, bisexual or straight. Reflecting the community to who they provide outreach, Mplus produced animations to be used as an educational resource in each of the communities identified above. The animations are context specific to needs of Chiang Mai’s MSM community as identified in the research, but Mplus is using them in regional HIV/AIDS outreach and prevention. The animations will expand Mplus’ innovative HIV prevention, where outreach workers take condoms and safe-sex information to places where MSM meet for sex to make their use more acceptable and less stigmatised.

Mplus understands organised responses to HIV/AIDS must begin at the community level and that community engagement is an essential part of HIV/AIDS prevention. To produce the animations, Mplus first researched the sexual practices of young MSM, transgenders, Thai and migrant male sex workers (MSW) to focus on understanding their sexual practices as they are socially produced. Then, using the data generated from the research, they co-authored narratives, drafted storyboards and produced animations making use of powerful context-specific, stories generated through interviews with MSM, MSW and transgenders in their local community.

The animations will help MSM understand the risks associated with various sexual activities and the consequences of unsafe sex for themselves and their partners/spouses. The animations will also attempt to provoke emotional reactions from viewers as they become closely familiar with the thoughts and feelings of characters, some of who became HIV+ in contexts and situations familiar to those of their local community. 

Jit Srichandorn, an Mplus outreach worker says: “It is not easy to get our clients to change their behaviour, but the animations offer a screen-based resource with sound and moving images that provokes them to think differently about their risk to HIV. It also gives us a new educational resource to use in our peer- outreach that generates a lot of discussion.”

The first animation warns of the danger of connecting for sex on the Internet and drinking alcohol at local disco and ‘forgetting” to use a condom. The animation helps viewers—specifically young MSM—understand the risk associated with alcohol and unprotected sex as well as the proper use of a condom to prevent HIV/AIDS.

 

Mplus produced the second animation to empower transgender individuals to negotiate condom use with their partners. The narrative resonates with their lived experiences and provides a catalyst for informed discussion in outreach to this population that goes beyond simply advocating condom use. It is about raising awareness and self esteem.

 

Mplus produced the third animation to be used in their outreach to male sex workers and then translated it into three local dialects (Karen, Shan & Burmese). They are currently using this animation in site-based peer-education programs to help migrant sex workers understand personal risk to HIV before they engage in sex work. Learchai Keawyoo, who provides outreach to this population says: “I don’t speak the Shan dialect, but having this animation in Shan provides me with a resource that is engaging and easy for MSW to understand. After they view the animation, they have safe sex information in their own language.” 

 

The fourth animation was produced for ‘hidden MSM’. Thailand has a ‘hidden’ subgroup of MSM who do not identify themselves as gay or bisexual and it is difficult to target them with HIV prevention outreach. It is believed these men meet in a secretive and marginalised fashion in parks, restrooms, or other public places. Frequently, the male-to-male sex between these often masculine-identified MSM happens quickly and furtively due to the location. This lack of time often leads to unsafe sex without condoms. It is important to point out that HIV epidemics move from vulnerable groups to the general population when there are links between the two. The link between MSM, MSW and women in Thailand is well established. This animation aims to educate ‘hidden’ MSM about their personal risk to HIV as well as the risk the pose to the women they have sex with. These often cohabitating, primarily heterosexual, female partners/spouses now represent one-third of all new HIV/AIDS cases in Thailand.

Mplus is incorporating the animations into a locally-adapted and community-based Popular Opinion Leader program. This is an HIV/AIDS risk-reduction program in which groups of trusted, well-liked people are recruited and trained to conduct a particular type of peer outreach. Mplus+ choose this model because it has shown evidence of being effective in decreasing risk behaviours in racially and ethnically diverse groups of MSM. By using animations in their outreach, popular opinion leaders will be able to provide a compelling visual educational resource that can also be shared via Bluetooth technology. Mplus hopes individual MSM will begin to share the animations on mobile phones in their networks to raise awareness to personal risk to HIV/AIDS. Additionally, Mplus is incorporating the animations into an online peer education program. Mplus shows the animation in their current site based HIV/AIDS outreach and prevention programs at universities, workshops, bars, saunas, massage parlors, karaoke lounges, and brothels.

Mplus’ animations will help MSM and MSW understand HIV prevention through descriptions of bodily fluids that transmit the virus, how bodily fluids are transferred into the human body, and various context-specific scenarios where risky behaviour may lead to HIV infection. Importantly, the animations will also model practical ways of increasing the ability of MSM and MSW to negotiate safe sex with potential partners or clients. This kind of collaborative research built stronger alliances between MSM and MSW (of all genders) and is improving advocacy efforts around sexual health and rights, particularly in relation to HIV/AIDS prevention in Chiang Mai.

Mplus produced the animations with the help of a grant from The Australian Association of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) in collaboration with researchers from The Open University (UK) and The McCormick Faculty of Nursing, Payap University (Thailand). Mplus is currently working in collaboration with The Open University (UK), The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) and Bridges Across Borders South East Asia (BABSEA) to expand their outreach and prevention programs in a new project funded by The Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). For more information visit Mplus at www.mplusthailand.com. The animations were made by Lanna Media in Chiang Mai.

Dr Christopher S Walsh is a Senior Lecturer in Educational ICT and Professional Development at The Open University (UK) and works as a volunteer with Mplus. Nada Chaiyajit is a transgender activist and volunteer at Mplus, and Pad Thepsai is Mplus’ drop-in manager. 

Thailand

Reader's Comments

Comment #1 was deleted by its author on 2010-01-23 01:12
2. 2010-01-23 01:12
the best way to prevent HIV is to have monogamous relationships.
3. 2010-01-23 02:11
yeah thats right..!!!! we can use a condom for our safe..!!!!


dont you know that guyz..!!! u must use it..!!!
4. 2010-01-23 02:15
I AGREE. :) however its such an ordeal to do so..:p
5. 2010-01-23 02:16
being monogamous that is, not the condom part. :p
6. 2010-01-23 02:40
these are genius animations! it depicts well & clear enough, that I doubt it would create the same effect if it were to be actual people re-enacting it.
7. 2010-01-23 04:19
Condoms are good for hygenic reason as well...
8. 2010-01-23 07:23
good job.
9. 2010-01-23 07:51
Good to see that these animations aren't shy about being graphic so that they can be direct. Too many I've seen try to be too clinical and conservative to explain it properly.

Condoms also prevent a number of other STI's as well, and often more people I see are wearing them because they are scared of catching the lesser ones, because they don't think they know anyone with HIV. Most they all know someone who has had something like gonorrhea, so think it is more likely to catch if they aren't careful.
10. 2010-01-23 08:59
Brilliant.. absolutely brilliant. Its time someone broke through the ultra conservatism of Asian societies
11. 2010-01-23 09:04
Thanks for great animation !

I think about massage boys in Chiang Mai (most of then are Shan, right ? ) Fortunately i use cd everytime.
12. 2010-01-23 10:23
Keep up the great work and the outreach efforts!! : )
13. 2010-01-23 11:42
Honest and accurate content. Excellent.
Keep up the great work Mplus. Good luck :)
14. 2010-01-23 13:12
awesome....
15. 2010-01-23 13:31
Well
16. 2010-01-23 19:41
It's so cool to have such cartoons explaining the harmness of the practice of unsafe sex. and I found it quite amazing for all the versions of languages they produced in order to help more people. Awesome work indeed
17. 2010-01-23 19:52
I can never figure out why the rise in HIV prevalence, when Thailand was formerly a leader, should be a 'surprise': The big rise happened very shortly after a former Minister of the Interior under Thaksin, who instigated a crack-down on gay saunas, which, as a result took away the condoms they regularly provided; they then got less flack from the authorities, because they were no longer 'promoting sex'
18. 2010-01-23 19:57
Monogamy and prevent HIV? not a 100% full proof kids, HIV not just spread only through sex, remember that? so even if you're in monogamy it doesn't prove anything. The best is to play safe whenever, wherever and whoever.
19. 2010-01-24 01:08
Monogamy does not prevent the spread of HIV.

For one, when someone say he/she is monogamous... there's only a 50% chance that it's true. Out of all the men I've ever met, and I've met quite a few, only one was 100% monogamous.

Condoms and safe sex practices - that's the only way to stop the spread of HIV.
20. 2010-01-24 02:33
HSTN and Chrysostom, since u guy said HIV spreads mainly because sex, if your guys practice polygamy, mean HIV will spread faster than normal. Do you ever heard HIV spread among monogamy? One of the reason of HIV spreading because one of the party is not faithful (polygamy). If your guys practice MONOGAMY and SAFE SEX, do you think HIV can spread easily?

Chrysostom, to STOP spreading of HIV, the best way is NO SEX, NO DRUG ABUSE.
Comment edited on 2010-01-24 10:53:34
21. 2010-01-24 03:37
This is a great project that demonstrates that there is room for more collaboration across disciplines and between the academics and the NGOs to deliver more effective programmes to increase awareness of HIV in the MSM community. In my opinion this is by far the most effective means of delivering safer sex education. It is much more effective than books, seminars, internet websites and even school-based comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) programs.

In light of the lack of CSE in most regional countries including Singapore, the NGOs in the region should jointly produce a series of such clips to concisely deliver the key points in a typical CSE curriculum. We have to realise that the teenagers and those in their early 20s are the group most at risk, and animation is more likely to appeal to them than are books, websites, school-based courses, seminars, phone counselling and face-to-face counselling. In terms of the effectiveness and the appeal, such animation clips have no rival.

While we the minority who speak English, have easy access to the internet and have the patience to read tons pages of sex-related information are here discussing about the importance safer sex, there are probably hundreds or thousands times more MSM persons in our region who don't have these privileges and are, thus, ignorant about the key points about STDs. How could we efficiently spread the message to them in an appealing manner? The most logical solution is to use animation.

There are a few trends that are favourable to the use of animation. First, mobile phone, MP4 and PC ownership in this region (Asia ex-Japan) is accelerating. China already has more mobile phone users than the US, and I think its netizens population should very soon top the world, if it still hasn't. Thanks to the faster, cheaper and faster copycats in China, the market is flooded with all sorts of such media devices selling at dirt cheap prices.

Second, owning such new media devices has become a necessity for the mentioned at-risk group. Due to peer pressure, students would ask from parents, work part-time, cheat or sell his/her body in order buy at least one of these devices if he/she hasn't got one. Many who already own one would buy more as new models emerge in the market.

Lastly, the latest technologies such as Bluetooth allows efficient sharing of data between media devices. A person who holds a Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone can easily transfer such video clips from his phone to his friends who hold similarly enabled devices.

To facilitate exchange, such clips should preferably be:
1) created in the most common format that may be viewed using most hand-held devices;
2) In short segments, since youngsters have shorter attention span
3) Takes up less disk space so that transferring between hand-held devices is easier
4) Includes info on how to obtain further info and advice for those who want to know more: phone number of counselling agencies; URL of websites with DETAILS beyond the key points addressed in the clips; phone number of clinics offering anonymous HIV screening.
5) Available in multiple languages. This can be easily done by the participating NGOs from different countries
6) Include a concluding request for the viewers to distribute the clips to his friends and sex partners via Bluetooth, email, etc. Research shows that word-of-mouth marketing is the most effective form of marketing. If these clips are distributed to viewers by their friends, the clips would earn a much higher credibility.

22. 2010-01-24 06:31
post#20 'joow' From my understanding, and education about the use of condoms, they are designed to protect the "dick" if it has any wounds. Pathogens cannot pass through the barrier.

Of course, after all these years the evidence is that condoms work.

People here who critisize the use of condoms as not being effective only encourage people not to use them. Why would they bother if they believe that they are not effective. What you say and write here can have serious consequences for somebody. Think before you write something silly.

Please guys ALWAYS use condoms and safe sex.
23. 2010-01-24 06:51
#20's comments are not supported by facts. Please read another Fridae report: US gay men mostly getting HIV from main partners [http://www.fridae.com/newsfeatures/2009/06/01/8374.us-gay-men-mostly-getting-hiv-from-main-partners?n=sea&nm=main+partner+ ].
This report states that "
1) Using data from the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System (NHBS) involving gay men in five large US cities, researchers found that over 50% of HIV transmissions in US gay men are from main sexual partners and 46% of infections were from partners who were believed to be HIV-negative;

2) The majority of HIV transmissions (68%) were estimated to be from main partners, with 32% thought to be from casual partners. This trend was observed in all age groups.

#19 is right. Monogamy doesn't protect you from HIV. The reason is simple, and it's proven in the above-quoted report. You may be faithful to your BF, but it doesn't guarantee that he doesn't sleep around. So, if you thought that since you are faithful, you can safely not use condoms, you may then get HIV from him. Your BF can either be:
1) Already HIV+; or
2) Initially HIV-, but became HIV+ later after sleeping with others without telling you.

So, the best protection against HIV is Condoms, not Monogamy.

24. 2010-01-24 12:27
Great effort....
Hope they'll do more short clips for the danger of oral sex and life after getting infected...
People need to be educated to understand and accept this sickness.
25. 2010-01-24 13:14
stop sex. but none one us would do. so, play safe, being responsible. might be a good way to stop HIV from spreading.

Where is this HIV thing coming from? I just don't get it.

Great work for the animation.!!!
26. 2010-01-24 15:15
This idea of animation is one way to generate awareness to the public at the same time reminding them of their individual responsibility to oneself. I appreciated all the people who have worked hard for the success of this campaign, you guys did an awesome job :)

27. 2010-01-24 20:41
It was good to see AFAO involved in the production of these advertisements. Now all they need to do is concentrate on the Australian problem. I have not seen general HIV prevention in Australia for twenty years. I guess the AIDS organisations have lost their clout with the general population and concentrating in specific target groups. Guess we will have to wait until an bigger increase in HIV infections.
28. 2010-01-24 20:42
Also needed to add, bring back the Grim Reaper adds, they were affective.
29. 2010-01-24 23:00
that is cool idea for make this animations
30. 2010-01-25 01:24
Hat off to the animation production team. These are real good animation series to raise the public awareness for being safe, and playing safe.
31. 2010-01-25 03:13
it is about time someone do something about safe sex, good animation, that should be publish everywhere worldwide in as many languages as possible.
32. 2010-01-25 05:48
Copyright is also important. Must change the music I believe.
33. 2010-01-25 06:30
the message spread by this animation is definitely wrong. It appears to promote fucking around before promoting use of condom. We cannot use fighting HIV to reinforce the stereotype that gay men are purely sex animals.
34. 2010-01-25 10:42
great stuff, fun to watch, lovin it.. but some stream and advice on waiting to have sex until you know someone would help

but its a great start

but I agree the music needs a bit of reworking, can't some cool DJ help out?
35. 2010-01-26 05:14
our last animation in France :
http://agence-to-buzz.com/le-nouveau-spot-aides-fait-dans-le-sexy-graffiti/
36. 2010-01-26 06:28
*Sigh* I wish here in the U.S. we had the sensibility to care enough for the people in our lives that we would provide more outreach and awareness through advertisements like this.
37. 2010-01-26 07:02
#33: I don't think the producers of these clips are stereotyping gays. Similarly, we can't say that the following types of common advertisements are stereotyping:

1) Mint/mouth rinse advertisements in an office setting don't stereotype all office workers as having bad breath;
2) Calcium-enriched milk advertisements don't stereotype all seniors as being fragile and hence unemployable;
3) Wonder Bra advertisements don't stereotype all women as being flat.

The point is, if you have bad breath, if you lack calcium intake or if your breasts happen to be flatter, then buy those products. Those who don't have these problems need not take offence. Similarly, these clips are meant to tell those gays who sleep around that they should practice safer sex. Those who don't sleep around need not take offence.

The fact is there are many gays who sleep around and practice unsafe sex. You may not be one of them, but you can't deny that they exist and that they do need to be informed.
38. 2010-01-26 08:08
#37: first pls don't get personal, Mr. sunthenmoon.

what you wrote may be the reaction this animation will generate among gay men, who are more familiar with, and will thus less likely surprised by, the beginning section of the told story, and thus who are likely to focus more on the HIV awareness purpose. However, now you see the video has been put on YouTube and is likely to viewed by the general public. What kind of reaction will those who are neutral or even hostile to gay community have for it? This is the concern.

Recall a previous news that a young gay boy was brutally killed and burned. A policeman investigating the case was allegedly to comment, "He deserves it!" We can throw tons of blame onto the policeman; however, this animation is possible to feed such opinions among such people on gay community as a whole. Existing bias could be deepened.

I don't doubt the producers are meant to do goodness. I simply believe there are other creative ways to promote HIV awareness without the need to tell a story of betraying your lover as if it is commonly accepted as the moral norm among gay people.

Promoting HIV awareness is of coz a big issue. But we don't have to compromise another big issue, demonstrating that the gay community, like the mainstream society, value faithfulness, which may be a larger war given that people around the world are fighting for the right to marry.

I'm not offended by the animation. I'm concerned with it. People who view it may have reactions different from what the producer meant to convey.
Comment edited on 2010-01-26 08:12:32
Comment #39 was deleted by its author on 2010-01-26 13:13
Comment #40 was deleted by its author on 2010-01-26 13:18
41. 2010-01-26 13:18
#38: I think the purpose of these clips is very clear. Look at the sponsor: The Australian Association of AIDS Organisations. The word, 'AIDS', in the name is self-explanatory. This project is meant to fight AIDS. The characters could have been straight men and women for those clips that target at them. Straights, gays, bisexuals and transgenders are all prone to HIV. In order to target at all these effectively, these clips have to be tailor-made for each group. For example, in this series of clips, the groups being addressed have included:
1) Gays
2) Bisexuals
3) Transgenders.

But you did highlight a point, which is why the straights got missed out? Is the producer suggesting indirectly that straight people can't be promiscuous and be at risk as well? To avoid being misunderstood, the producer should add one more clip to the series for:
4) Straight men and women.

By so doing, the series would look more balanced. Each of the 4 groups of infection-prone individuals is addressed to convey the fact that it's not just MSM who are at risk. Lesbian sex is the safest of all forms of sex. Woman-to-woman transmission of HIV is rare, so this group might be left out for good reason.

Then, MSM won't misconstrue that they had been stereotyped or stigmatised. More importantly, the producer can then reach out to the largest group--- the straight people (95% of population)-- who also form the majority (>50%) of new HIV cases. Among the newly infected persons, the majority had been infected via straight sex.

Perhaps an even more important message that should be included in these clips (for groups 1-3) is:
"According to professional psychologists, doctors and psychiatrists worldwide, homosexuality is NOT a mental illness. Sexual orientation is not a choice, but results from a complex interaction of environmental, cognitive and biological factors. There is no scientific evidence that homosexuality can be changed using any therapy. But there is scientific evidence that trying to change homosexuals' orientation may cause significant emotional damage. #

According to the United Nations Secretary General, 'Stigma remains the single most important barrier to public action. It is a main reason why too many people are afraid to see a doctor to determine whether they have the disease, or to seek treatment if so. It helps make AIDS the silent killer, because people fear the social disgrace of speaking about it, or taking easily available precautions. Stigma is a chief reason why the AIDS epidemic continues to devastate societies around the world.*'

As such, correct understanding of sexual orientation and tolerance towards homosexuals is very important in the fight against HIV epidemic."


#Details can be found on American Psychological Association's website at www.apa.org

* The above quote of Mr Ban Ki-Boon can be found in the article, "The Stigma Factor" [ http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/aug/06/the-stigma-factor/ ]
42. 2010-01-26 17:44
these clips represent million words.........
43. 2010-01-27 02:39
To #41: unfortunately, your comments are still focused what the producers of videos are intended to mean and achieve. My point is that, in this era of mass media, what the speaker means does really not matter. What matters is how the audience construe the video.

Yes, maybe if one views all the videos as a series and thinks hard, he or she may be able to get the message exactly as the producer intends to convey. My question is that once these videos are uploaded to YouTube, how many people will be that diligent to view all of them and then think very hard to figure out the message behind it?

For one who happens to click into the first video, his impression is likely to be, "oh, this boy betrays his boyfriend and have a hook-up, and then gets HIV. Oops, he may deserves it...Gay men are really messy in the sexual life.." This is my concern.

Essentially, is the boyfriend element necessary for the HIV awareness message? Does it highlight the message? I really don't think so. It simply confuses it unnecessarily. Why not simply have it to be that the boy go out with the other man and then..." As a Chinese saying put it, I think the boyfriend element is to add paws to a snake you are painting.

Therefore, I strongly recommend the produce withdraw the current version and post a new version deleting the boyfriend element. The new message will be clearer and more straightforward.
44. 2010-01-27 05:20
#43: But the point is, without efforts to educate the MSM community, the epidemic will worsen, and the result--higher HIV infection rate--will reinforce the stigma. If we do not want to be stigmatised, we must first show the results.

Looking back at the history, when the result in California, USA showed that the gay population was the majority of HIV-infected people, the society labelled HIV a gay disease. However, due to various interventions, straight sex has surpassed gay sex as being the chief mode of HIV transmission today. So, the educated and young people are generally aware that unprotected straight sex is equally risky. In fact, only the illiterate or lowly educated still perceive HIV as a gay disease. So, we certainly need to decrease the proportion of MSM in the new cases, because only then can we show the result that HIV is not to be associated with gay sex.

Next, let me address your notion that promiscuity is bad. Now, if 2 persons haven't made any promise to be committed to exclusively each other, what is wrong in them sleeping around with others after having casual sex? So, let me ask you what's so bad EVEN IF we promote fucking around, that is, what you alleged in #33, "It appears to promote fucking around before promoting use of condom. We cannot use fighting HIV to reinforce the stereotype that gay men are purely sex animals."

It is a philosophical series of questions:
1) What's bad about fucking around?
2) What's so bad about being 'purely sex animals'?
3) Does having more casual sex mean that a person can't be also good citizens?

As far as HIV transmission is concerned, Protection is certainly a more important factor than Promiscuity, and even more than Morality. Let me examine these 3 factors. If a Promiscuous person practices Protected sex consistently, and even if he is IMMORAL (e.g. has sex with others despite being in a committed relationship, he is much, much less likely to be infected with HIV than if he were both MORAL and Non-Promiscuous but practices UNPROTECTED sex. The reason had been given. Even if he doesn't cheat, his BF may, so if he practices unprotected sex, he may get it from his BF who got infected from casual sex. The research finding supporting this argument had also been given. In an earlier Fridae article, it was reported that more than 2/3 of new HIV cases got the infection from their MAIN PARTNERS, not casual partners.

But don't be mistaken. I am not discounting the importance of encouraging trust in romantic relationship. But it is a separate issue, not HIV issue. As far as HIV transmission is concerned, as I explained, Protection far exceeds in importance than Promiscuity and Morality combined.
45. 2010-01-27 05:58
Beside those points raised, it is important for us to face the reality instead of trying to deceive ourselves. Efforts to promote abstinence-only in sex education failed. Efforts to encourage monogamy couldn't stop most committed long-term partners from sleeping around. So, we must choose the most realistic solution, which is to focus on Protection. And it seems that the Protection School has an edge over the Morality School. Most of gays who got newly infected in a US study got their infection from their main partners, not casual partners.

Beside Protection, the other important factor to focus on is Screening. Taken together, Protection+Screening can significantly reduce HIV transmission rate, EVEN IF Morality and Promiscuity factors were to worsen as described.

We know that condoms are very effective in protecting us from infected bodily fluids. The other factor that can significantly determine whether infection can occur is viral load. If we can encourage more people to go for screening and get those who are HIV-positive to undergo treatment, there is a very high likelihood that we can reduce their viral load. Protected sex alone is already a very, very effective means to significantly reduce the likelihood of HIV transmission, but with reduced viral load, we can make it even less likely for the living HIV-carriers to infect the uninfected. Many HIV-positive persons who had detected their status and undergone treatment have undetectable level of viral load, which means the amount of virus in their blood and sperm is so small that it is quite unlikely for him to infect others, and especially those who practice protected sex with him.

Should we 'encourage' promiscuity? I think it is a question of individual choice. If a person chooses to be committed to a lover, then it is only moral for him to honour his promise to be faithful to the latter. But if he is single, and his casual partners have sex with him knowing that there is no string attached, there is no cheating or betrayal involved if he chooses to leave this partner and goes on to the next. So, instead of saying that we shouldn't encourage promiscuity, I think it's more reasonable to suggest that we should not encourage cheating.

46. 2010-01-27 07:51
oops...we are not debating who's moral position is better, and we are not persuading each other to accept the other's moral position.

My point is that the audience's reaction decides the effectiveness of this ad. Not mine, not yours, but the general audience. We cannot limit our vision to the gay community. My point is that we also need to consider possible side effect this ad could cause among the general public.

Your moral analysis is too individual-specific. And the word "choice" pops up again and again. In the US, those who are opposed to gay marriage keep hammering out the message that being gay is a personal choice of life styles. I don't want to make a moral judgment on this. This is not the point. Of coz, if you want to advocate your position in this moral debate, it's totally fine, but obviously this is not the mission you want to achieve with this ad.

So again, the key questions are:

(1) Do you think the boyfriend elements are helpful to sharpen the HIV protection message?

I simply think it's a distraction. Why bother to include this could-be-controversial moral element into a pure technical protection message?

With the boyfriend element, the message is "if you hook up with another man when you have a boyfriend, you should use condom". Without it, the message would be "when you hook up with anybody, you should use condom". Isn't the latter message clearer?

You say promiscuity is part of the reality. I'm not sure how big this "reality" is. But the key question is, do we have to include this piece of reality into the message to make it vivid? Are the gay boys so stupid as to need this extra reminder? The most vivid part of the video may be the scale showing the boy's loss of weight. Instead, I don't see how the boyfriend element improves the message.

(2) Do you think the benefit from the protection side outweigh the potential negative PR backfire from the general public?


If you firmly believe the answer two both questions are yes, let's conclude this debate. Otherwise, let's amend the video.
47. 2010-01-27 18:52
#46 makes a good and valid point. I see what you mean now. The storyline could have been better. The character in one of the clips was attached, yet he slept with another man (in a dream?). I think this element could be omitted. If a person doesn't practice safer sex, it doesn't matter whether he is attached, and whether he is cheating a main partner, the risk he is exposed to is the same. And the producer should focus on this risk, not on whether this person is attached or cheating.

Two other points he raised should also be taken into consideration.
1) Would it encourage MSM to be promiscuous?
Perhaps the 'Doctor' in the clip could offer one more piece of advice. People who reduce the number of sex partners by, for example, maintaining a monogamous relationship, can reduce the chance of being infected or infecting others IF HE ALSO PRACTICES SAFER SEX CONSISTENTLY.

2) Would the society view MSM as being promiscuous?
Perhaps the 'Doctor' in the clip could highlight another fact: "People, straight, gay, bisexual or transgendered, are all exposed to HIV risk. HIV doesn't target any particular sexual orientation, but those who practices unprotected sex. Whether to be promiscuous is a personal choice. Many gays, as are many straight men, have chosen not to be promiscuous."

Lastly, it would be even more helpful if the 'Doctor' also mentions the position of the United Nations and professional psychologists, doctors and psychiatrists:

"According to professional psychologists, doctors and psychiatrists worldwide, homosexuality is NOT a mental illness. Sexual orientation is not a choice, but results from a complex interaction of environmental, cognitive and biological factors. There is no scientific evidence that homosexuality can be changed using any therapy. But there is scientific evidence that trying to change homosexuals' orientation may cause significant emotional damage. #

According to the United Nations Secretary General, 'Stigma remains the single most important barrier to public action. It is a main reason why too many people are afraid to see a doctor to determine whether they have the disease, or to seek treatment if so. It helps make AIDS the silent killer, because people fear the social disgrace of speaking about it, or taking easily available precautions. Stigma is a chief reason why the AIDS epidemic continues to devastate societies around the world.*'

By making the 4 changes described above, plus adding a clip to educate the STRAIGHT about HIV risk as well, I believe the shortcomings could be overcome.

Namely, the shortcomings that can be overcome are:
1) Straight people would not think that they are not at risk
2) MSM would not think they are stigmatised as the only group that is exposed to HIV and responsible for the epidemic
3) MSM are not 'encouraged' to cheat on their BF/wife
4) Married bisexual men would not think it is OK to cheat on their wife as long as they practice protected sex with their casual male partners
5) Society would not think that ALL gays are promiscuous (though, as I suggested, we can't say that those who are promiscuous are bad. If they are not cheating and practice safer sex, they are not being immoral by sleeping around.)
6) Widespread misunderstanding about homosexuality (myth that it is a mental disorder and that it could be 'cured' or 'prayed' away) and sexual orientation generally could be corrected
7) Society is educated about the harmful effects of stigma. Stigma is the worst enemy.

48. 2010-01-29 02:16
Good work on this! Also, if anyone is interested, Payap University in Chiang Mai is offering a 3-week "Queer Thailand" program for university students later this year. Pretty cool concept!

Queer Thailand: Culture, Society & Sexual Identity
Course Dates: Sunday 4th July – Friday 23rd July 2010

Gays, Girls, Gender Bending, Ganja, and Gambling. Thailand is a country of many paradoxes. As a Buddhist Kingdom with the world's longest reigning monarch, Thailand somehow harmoniously balances contemporary sexual freedoms with traditional values. Known around the world as a "Gay Paradise," Thailand provides an excellent location to study and explore variant gender identities and expressions -- a kind of "Asian Mystique"-- which challenges many from the West.
As anyone who comes to Thailand soon discovers, gender and sexuality are in a constant state of change as fluid, contingent and adaptable performances. Androgyny permeates and possibilities abound. Globalization, tourism, technology, and the information society have all impacted Thailand in recent decades to create a fascinating space within which to explore reformed, emergent and traditional expressions of gender and sexuality. It is within this gendered space of "Queer Thailand," with its many myths and mystiques, that this course journeys.
This course will include an introduction to gender/queer theory and proceed to use case studies of gender performance in Thailand to provide a fascinating comparative study for Gender/Sexuality/Women's Studies students and/or others with open minds that wish to explore this topic. Although previous coursework in gender studies will prove helpful, it is not a prerequisite for this class. Fieldtrips and interaction with Thai LGBTQ students and the activist NGO community will enhance classroom learning.

http://www.educationabroadnetwork.org/?id=203

49. 2010-01-29 03:20
#48: Perhaps someone from Payap University should write a report of this course offering and submit it to Fridae's editor. It's encouraging that a public university in Asia has offered this course. It's of interest to academics, gay activists and anyone-- gay, bisexual, transgendered or straight-- who wants to know more about Queer. It is particularly helpful in informing the newly created ASEAN Human Rights Commission about the human rights issues facing Queer in the region. Quality and authoritative research in this area should be promoted so that the Commission may be provided with more information make the appropriate recommendations to the respective ASEAN member-countries to empower the Queer community.
50. 2010-01-29 11:29
Great project done on HIV/AIDS prevention work using animation as its really a useful tool especially trying to appeal to the younger and IT savvy bunch of MSM and gay men in Asia, where I am sure my organisation can utilise these materials for education, especially using it for workshops and support sessions..

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