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"Absence of condom culture" claim disputed

Tue 9 Nov 2010 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback View at NDHA

A reported claim that there is currently an "absence of condom culture" amongst gay and bi men in New Zealand is being hotly disputed by the NZ AIDS Foundation which bears responsibility for promoting safe sex. In his just-released Ministry of Health-commissioned HIV Services Review, Dr David Miller says he was told of a perceived "current absence of condom culture" amongst the group hardest hit by the HIV epidemic. Miller says he was advised of this by clinicians, non-governmental organisations involved in HIV work and people living with HIV.  And he has clarified to that with this comment he was referring to men who have sex with men (MSM) in general. Rachael Le Mesurier But NZAF Executive Director Rachael Le Mesurier says her organisation has hard research which disputes the "absence of condom culture" assertion. She says the Gay Auckland Periodic Sex Survey (GAPPS) and the Gay men’s Online Sex Survey (GOSS ) offer very scientific assessments of condom use by both HIV positive and negative gay men. "We have the data. We do know that the condom culture in New Zealand is one of the best in the world." The GAPPS and GOSS studies, carried out by internationally respected NZAF researchers Tony Hughes and Peter Saxton, are based on Australian studies, which were in turn influenced by American research. Le Mesurier says "an absence of condom culture" is very different from having a small proportion of positive men who are not using condoms. She says says the NZAF's core message, "use a condom and lube every time" is still appropriate and has led to New Zealand having one of the lowest rates of HIV transmission amongst MSM in the western world. Le Mesurier points out that the HIV Services Review was not actually a review of 'condom culture.' She says the NZAF welcomes Dr Miller's observation that a review of HIV prevention services would be reasonable to consider in the future. An extended version of this news item, including broader comment by Le Mesurier, appears in's HIV and Health section. You can discuss the New Zealand gay community news story in the Forum.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Tuesday, 9th November 2010 - 3:18am

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