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The AIDS Council of South Australia (ACSA) works with various vulnerable communities to reduce the transmission and impact of HIV in South Australia. Whilst notifications of HIV among gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are demonstrating a slightly decreasing trend, they continue to represent a disproportionately high number of HIV diagnoses based upon MSM populations. In 2010, gay men and other MSM accounted for 42% of the total new HIV diagnoses in SA. Results for 2011 are not yet available but initial data suggests that there will have been a rise in new HIV infections in SA from 48 in 2010 to greater than 60 in 2011. Analysis of these (unconfirmed) figures is not yet available. The National Centre in HIV Social Research (NCHSR) conducts a survey (The Gay Community Periodic Survey) annually, investigating the sexual practices of gay men and MSM. The Periodic Survey of 2010 showed that testing rates for young gay men / MSM in particular, are low in South Australia.
In response to these findings, ACSA took a lead role in facilitating the development and implementation of a campaign to increase HIV testing rates within this population. SHine SA and The Second Story Youth Services collaborated with ACSA over a period of four months to develop this, our first inter-agency collaboration, targeting gay and same sex attracted young men aged 17 –25. Ten young men worked with a South Australian community filmmaker, over a ten-week period to develop and implement this peer based sexual health awareness campaign.
“Testing? Too Easy” revolves around three young men: Matt, an eighteen year old in a long-term relationship with his girlfriend, Dylan, a twenty-one year party boy who likes both men and women and Jacob, who is twenty-five and in a committed long-term relationship with a guy. All of the young men have had sex with a guy called Liam over the past few months.
The opening scene of the video has Liam receiving a positive diagnosis at a local STI clinic. From there we explore the journey of Matt and Dylan and they navigate testing, disclosure and Sexually Transmitted Infections as they discover Testing… It’s too easy!
The campaign aims to dispel the fears surrounding STI testing along with showing the consequences of not having a regular three monthly check-up.
By Wills Logue, Haalth Promotion Officer at ACSA