|It is very obvious that Asians are an increasingly visible part of the New Zealand community. The presence and impact of Asian culture in New Zealand is a reality. The question now is: "What percentage are gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender?" Yes, it's true that you can rarely tell "who is and who's not". The reason for this maybe, is because most glbt Asians are scared to get out of their shell and don't want to be identified as being homosexual. Many Asian countries are very vocal in condemning homosexuality, and religions with an anti-gay philosophy often have a strong influence on Asian cultures. As a result of this, many Asian gay men try to migrate to another country in which they think they can live and express themselves more freely. One of the popular choices for these men is New Zealand. What happens when they arrived here? Many react to their new freedoms by jumping into gay culture "boots 'n all" without taking time to think about consequences of their actions (i.e. they tend toward overindulgence). They want to experience everything gay that they have never experienced in their own country. But, without the skills for handling themselves in a community with different social rules, expectations and different codes of behaviour to what they are used to; and often coming to New Zealand with no condom culture; these men can be vulnerable to being taken advantage of, and of course, to the risk of HIV. This represents a challenge to New Zealand health services and the NZ AIDS Foundation, to find the means to get HIV/AIDS awareness into the Asian gay and bisexual community that we know has an increasing presence here. Are Asian men aware of the recent increase of HIV among Asian gay and bisexual men in New Zealand? Is HIV prevention information reaching them and relevant to their cultures? What do we know about safe and/or risky sex practices among this group? How many of them have had an HIV test?
Let's face it; HIV isn't confined to one particular group or ethnicity. We are all susceptible, wherever we're from, whatever the economic status is, or age. But, to reach Asian gay and bisexual men in New Zealand with HIV prevention education - and, remember, these men who are often deeply closeted because of the anti-gay culture they bring with them, and potentially more vulnerable to harm because of the lack of social skills and lack of control that can sometimes come from sudden freedoms and immersion into a new and exciting culture - health providers must first ensure that they are inclusive, visibly open to issues of sexuality, and actively seeking ways of engaging within the Asian gay community.
Our poster models are: Yusoff Kamal (front and centre) Singaporean Malay Sales Consultant, Fashion Design graduate, Postgraduate Business Law Student AUT "Safe Sex is a recurrent agent of freedom." Just like physics, "An object is the strongest at the weakest point." So it's worth it to play safe rather than feeling sorry. Valeriano M. Incapas Jr. (right, in floral shirt) Filipino Health Promoter NZAF, Nursing graduate "If you value and love your life, protect it. Don't settle for a few hours of enjoyment and suffer a lifetime of regrets. No ifs and buts to safe sex." Ivan Yeo (in black shirt with stripes) Malaysian Like Minds Project Worker (Mental Health Promoter), Chinese Like Minds Programme Coordinator, Social Science Graduate "Practicing safe sex is self respect and making self-responsibility. It is ok to asked the person to use condom and if he refused, you have the right to say NO." Jacky "Jay" Cheung (left, in black top) Chinese Hong Kong Hair Style Guru, Hair Design graduate 'Safe Sex is only two words that can give you a thousand reasons to be happy and proud of." Christopher (in red unbuttoned shirt) Tahitian Chinese University Student "Safe Sex is a fundamental requirement if you have an active and healthy sex life."
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 11th May 2007 in Auckland. New Zealand AIDS Foundation - 6th May 2007