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9 May 2007

new zealand AIDS foundation's new safe sex campaign targets asian gay men

"Be proud and strong - Renew your commitment to safe sex, no exceptions," reads a campaign poster featuring five out and proud gay Asian men from Singapore, the Philipines, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Tahiti.

The New Zealand AIDS Foundation's Gay Men's Health team is to launch its first resource aimed at raising HIV awareness among Asian gay and bisexual men on Friday May 11 in Auckland.

The resource comprises a poster, featuring five out and proud gay Asian men - including Gay Men's Health Promoter Valeriano (Val) Incapas - with the heading "Be proud and strong - Renew your commitment to safe sex, no exceptions."

"Gay men make up a significant part of the growing Asian migrant population, as many Asian countries are very vocal in condemning homosexuality," Incapas says. "Gay men in Asian countries often are forced to move where they feel they can live and express themselves more freely, countries like New Zealand."

Asian gay men are also part of the wider community of men who have sex with men, who are the highest risk group for HIV infection in New Zealand. 70 new gay and bisexual diagnoses were recorded in 2006 - one every five days.

"Up until now, there has been a lack of visible role models for Asian gay and bisexual men to encourage open discussion about the importance of condom use in preventing HIV," Incapas says.

"Without the skills of handling themselves in a community with different social rules, and often coming to New Zealand with no condom culture, Asian gay men can be vulnerable to being taken advantage of."

The poster features men from Singapore, the Philipines, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Tahiti. All the men are profiled on an accompanying flier, along with individual messages about why they value safe sex.

"This is about standing proud and taking a leadership role in our own communities to help turn the HIV epidemic around," Incapas says. "But HIV isn't confined to one particular group or ethnicity - as gay and bisexual men, we are all susceptible because of the risk of transmission via anal sex. We must all renew our commitment to using a condom every time."

Shanghai Lil's Bar and Lounge
133 Franklin Rd
7pm, Friday 11th May

Source: New Zealand Aids Foundation press release

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