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NZAF forum: Low turnout for "valuable talks"

Wed 19 Sep 2007 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

The rise of gay condomless porn and the local increase in syphilis and other STIs were among the issues on the agenda for discussion last night at the NZ AIDS Foundation's Auckland Community Forum - but the turnout for the meeting was disappointingly small. Twenty people, most of them Foundation staff, met in the NZAF's Auckland head office for the two-and-a-half-hour presentation and discussion. Despite the low turnout, the NZAF's Executive Director Rachael Le Mesurier said the discussion was "constructive and helpful," touching on important issues affecting New Zealand's gay and bisexual men. NZAF researchers Tony Hughes and Peter Saxton began the meeting with a presentation showing recent trends in local and international HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections, acknowledging that New Zealand is in the fortunate position of seeing international STI trends roll out in other countries, and hoping we can prepare ourselves somewhat before they arrive on our shores. Health promoter Douglas Jenkin voiced his concern over the increase of condomless gay porn in recent years. An example of a studio marketing so-called 'bareback porn' as preferable to porn with condoms was particularly worrying to the Foundation. The idea of having a safe-sex message added to the beginning of future porn DVDs available in NZ - in rare opportunities where this is possible - was discussed. The question "Why is the rate of HIV infections among New Zealand's gay and bisexual male community so high?" encouraged much debate to close the meeting. Among the responses were: risk-taking behaviour; the misleading idea that HIV positive men have a manageable condition nowadays; survivor guilt amongst older gay men; denial; and unprotected 'serial monogamy' amongst younger gay men. Jenkin suggested targeted campaigns for separate age ranges of gay men might be beneficial - but budget constraints were a limiting factor in how many campaigns could be launched. The meeting concluded with the Wayne Otter from Auckland's HIV testing and counselling Burnett Centre expressing concern that the evening's discussion had been "preaching to the converted," and hoped that the NZAF could somehow increase their reach in the community to get more people along to the forums in future. This year's NZAF Community Forums conclude next week with two meetings in Christchurch this Monday, 24th September, and two in Wellington on Tuesday 25th September.    

Credit: News Staff

First published: Wednesday, 19th September 2007 - 3:35pm

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