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No simple answers on gay HIV surge

Sat 1 Dec 2007 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

WORLD AIDS DAY REPORT: Auckland University PhD researcher Michael Stevens says gay men aged between 35 to 45 are disproportionally represented in new HIV cases - and there are a range of reasons why that might be. 35-to-45-year-old men who have sex with men make up the majority of new HIV diagnoses here and in Australia, the UK, Denmark and the United States, recent NZ AIDS Foundation statistics show. "It's hard to give one answer as to why that is," Stevens told Kathryn Ryan yesterday on Radio New Zealand National. "But I do think one of the things is an erosion of gay community over the last 20 years or so. Safe sex grew from the grass roots up in the gay community - it wasn't something that was imposed on us. We invented it. There was a sense that 'we're all in this together'. Everybody has safe sex, and that way, everybody protects each other. "Recently I think that within our society in general there's a much stronger emphasis on the individual's rights - on what 'I' want, rather than 'us' as a group." New Zealand has a larger-than-ever pool of men living with HIV - who are healthier because of medication - so men seeking out sex with men are more likely to encounter a person with the virus, says Stevens. Reasons for complacency over using condoms include discomfort over talking about sexual issues, and the mistaken belief that HIV isn't the life-and-death health issue it once was. Stevens said he's been incredibly lucky with his health since he was diagnosed HIV positive almost 20 years ago. "But I have to wake up and take my pills, and I have to monitor my health. I have a friend, though, who's dying at the moment, and he's half my age. So the treatments work well for some people, but they don't work well for everybody." The Radio New Zealand National interview with Michael Stevens is available on the link below.    

Credit: News Staff

First published: Saturday, 1st December 2007 - 6:14pm

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