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Saturday 10 October 2009

Wellington guys quizzed on condoms

Posted in: Features, Safe Sex
By Kay Jones & Matt Akersten - 2nd July 2009

"Did you know last year saw the highest number of new HIV diagnoses in New Zealand history? Always use condoms and lube - they're the best way to keep you and the people you care about safe." - the NZ AIDS Foundation.

With its website just days away from a major re-launch, and new condom campaigns in the works, the NZ AIDS Foundation's Wellington community meeting last week was a chance to share research and get feedback from local gay man about their attitude to safer sex.

Around thirty people from the community, including gay MPs Grant Robertson and Charles Chauvel as former NZAF Board members, and many community group representatives, crammed into a back room at Mojo in Bond Street last Thursday to hear about recent research into why some gay and bisexual men don't wear condoms - and what NZAF is planning to do next.

Former NZAF Board Chairperson Jeremy Lambert MC'ed the event, where Massey University health researchers Jeff Adams and Steve Neville talked about the findings of their research in the Auckland area.

Key issues for not using condoms included:

  • "It's not cool"
  • "Heterosexuals don't worry about it, why should we?"
  • "Using condoms would say I don't trust him"
  • "I can judge by how he looks whether we need a condom"
  • "I'verecently tested negative so I don't have to"
  • "He's recently tested negative so he doesn't have to"
  • "I was 'out of it' with drink or pills"

The research also asked participants about which of NZ AIDS Foundation's health promotion campaigns they had seen - for instance, the Safe Sex Poster Boys. Even if they noticed the campaigns, many didn't realise that they were from NZAF.

The NZAF's Director of HIV Prevention and Communications, Simon Harger-Forde, was there at the meeting to hear views, answer questions, and talk a bit about some new initiatives that are coming. Points raised by the community participants included:

  • Whether it's more effective to target the general population or specific groups
  • The need for a socially responsible message like with the SmokeFree campaigns
  • The fact that some people see HIV/AIDS as a major inconvenience but not a death sentence
  • The scare campaigns not being scary enough
  • The difficulty in reaching some people
  • The need for positive health messages for MSM/ gay and bisexual men
  • The need for the gay community to take a lead role
  • The need for more education in schools (from a 17-year-old youth who says he always uses condoms but isn't sure about some of the others his age).

Some people at the meeting disagreed with points raised, but in a polite and open manner.

The NZAF crew listened, took notes and outlined a few initiatives coming up includingwork with sex-on-site venues (including its world-first 'SAM' electronic information service), and new education initiatives with hospitality corporates.


The NZ AIDS Foundation plans to hold another community event in Wellington next month. If you want to know more, email to be added to the list for notifications. We'll also have details in's events section.

Also in Wellington, along with Auckland and Christchurch, there are weekly 'Condom Packing' evenings where volunteers place the condom and lube sachets into the little cardboard packets, ready to be distributed out to gay venues. Snacks and drinks are provided for the fun, social events. We've just heard that 25 volunteers in Auckland and Christchurch together packed over 3,500 condoms last night - a stunning effort!

On the net meanwhile, the NZAF is now Tweeting very well on and is also planning exciting things for its Facebook page (

And - at last - now that a lengthy period of design, research and troubleshooting is complete, the new NZAF website should be online later this month, Simon Harger-Forde has revealed. The Foundation plans to upload its health research to the new site, along with lots of interactive information.


Protect yourself: A hot condom ad from Canada

Kay Jones & Matt Akersten - 2nd July 2009

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