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Condoms plus lube = a committed relationship

Tue 9 Nov 2004 In: Safe Sex View at NDHA

NZAF Press Release – 09NOV04 "If you loved him enough to use condoms when you first met, love him enough to keep using them" is the message in the latest phase of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation's End The Silence campaign, which aims to halt the rapid rise in new cases of HIV infection among men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM). The campaign consists of heart-shaped boxes, such as might contain a wedding or eternity ring, symbolising the love and romance of gay relationships. But, inside, there's a reminder to MSM that there are good reasons why condom use needs to remain part of a committed relationship. Says the AIDS Foundation's Gay Men's Health team coordinator Douglas Jenkin: “There is a perception many people have that love will protect them from HIV but, in reality, world wide some 50% of HIV is passed on within relationships. Our research shows that New Zealand is no different – men in love can still be men at risk.” Jenkin notes that the Foundation's Gay Auckland Periodic Sex Survey (GAPSS) shows that low or no condom use is much more prevalent among men in relationships than between men having casual sex. “GAPSS reveals that 48% of men who have anal sex with a regular partner never or rarely use condoms, but, 56% of men in relationships also have sex with other men. And that's worrying, because 44% of these men didn't use a condom at least once when they had anal sex with other men.” “It's about how men view condoms,” Jenkin says. “Some see them as a barrier to intimacy within a committed relationship, but the Foundation's view is that they actually take a worry out of a relationship, by removing that niggling doubt about HIV risk. Continuing to use condoms is a great way of saying “I love you and want to protect you.” Jenkin says the Foundation hopes the romantic presentation of the message might encourage men to give the condom “ring” boxes to each other as a way of re-opening communication within the relationship around sexual risk. “One of the problems is that men might negotiate rules around not using condoms within their relationship, but then never talk about that agreement again, even years later, when other factors in the relationship might have changed. Ending the silence around HIV is one of the most effective ways we have to reduce the spread of this virus.” Summer also tends to be a time when people form new relationships, Jenkin says, which is why the release of the heart-shaped “ring” boxes is coinciding with the advent of the warmer months. They will be available throughout the summer from NZAF offices and/or gay venues and gay events. Footnote: Helping others out. The NZ AIDS Foundation is pleased to be associated with Trade Aid, New Zealand's Fair Trade organisation, which supplied the heart-shaped boxes for this campaign. The paper boxes are hand-made by women in Bangladesh who belong to the Biborton Handmade Paper Project, a cooperative that ensures the women receive a fair wage for their labour. The hand-made paper is created from water hyacinth fibres, a weed which clogs the inland waterways of Bangladesh. NZAF - 9th November 2004    

Credit: NZAF

First published: Tuesday, 9th November 2004 - 12:00pm

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