Australian HIV/AIDS Prevention Campaign Includes Information About Safer Sex

Armen Hareyan's picture

Anew campaign aimed at reducing HIV/AIDS among men who have sex with men in theAustralian state of Victorialaunched on Thursday, The Age reports. The campaign will featurefour advertisements in two newspapers targeted toward the MSM community thatfeature MSM having sex along with a dialogue box discussing safer-sex issues,according to The Age.

The decision to use images of MSM having sex was based on focus-groupdiscussions with MSM about what they would respond to, Mike Kennedy --executive director of Victorian AIDS Council, which organized the campaign --said. "We're doing it not because we're trying to push the envelope butbecause the focus groups are telling us that this is what we need to do to havethe conversation we need to have," Kennedy said. He added that thecampaign also will include a more public message calling on people in the stateto be tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. In addition, aspart of the campaign, tea towels featuring the images along with safer-sexmessages about condom use and water-based lubricants will be distributed at gayfestivals.


According to The Age, the campaign comes as HIV cases in the statehave reached a 20-year high. The VictoriaDepartment of Human Services in 2006 received reports of 334 new HIV cases -- a 17% increase overthe 285 cases reported in 2005 and the highest number since 1987. Sharon Lewin,director of the infectious disease unit at Alfred Hospital in Victoria,said the campaign seems to be targeting MSM in their 30s who are having casual,unprotected sex. Lewin added that new HIV cases are "predominantlyoccurring" in this group. Lewin said that a "very targeted andexplicit safe-sex campaign" in New South Waleswas "quite effective," adding that New South Wales has not had an increase inHIV cases since the campaign began.

Doug Pollard -- news editor for BNews, which will feature the ads-- said the new campaign is following criticism from members of the MSMcommunity who did not believe VAC was doing enough to address the HIV/AIDSsituation. Pollard added the BNews staff decided the HIVprevention messages are too serious to not be addressed (Medew, The Age,1/10).

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