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Australia: Confronting Approach to HIV in Gay Community

January 10, 2008

In response to a high number of HIV reports in Victoria, the Victorian AIDS Council is running an ad campaign to catch gay men's attention. Four full-page advertisements will appear in two gay newspapers in Melbourne showing men having sex, with a genitalia-covering dialogue box discussing safe sex issues. Focus groups with gay men suggested this direct approach would work, said Mike Kennedy, VAC's executive director.

"We're doing it not because we're trying to push the envelope but because the focus groups are telling us that this is what we need to do to have the conversation we need to have," Kennedy said. "When we showed people in the focus groups words alone, they said 'nup, doesn't work for us.'" The ad campaign "doesn't look like stuff people have seen 100 times before."

A broader campaign, "The Drama Down Under," will urge people to get tested for STDs and HIV, said Kennedy. In the coming months, tea towels will be distributed at gay festivals featuring male-sex images and messages encouraging the use of condoms and water-based lubricants. The $630,000 (US $559,600) campaign will run for at least six months. Kennedy said VAC is proposing that the state government finance the campaign.

In 2006, Victoria's Department of Human Services was notified of 334 HIV cases, 17 percent higher than cases in 2005 and the most since 1987.

The new campaign targets the group reporting the most infections, said Professor Sharon Lewin, director of the Alfred Hospital's infectious-diseases unit. "One of the recent lessons from [New South Wales] was that they had a very targeted and explicit safe sex campaign ... and it seemed that that was quite effective," she said. "The number of new infections has not increased in NSW, whereas they have in Victoria and Queensland."

Back to other news for January 2008

Adapted from:
The Age (Melbourne)
01.10.2008; Julia Medew

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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