The gay men most likely to contract HIV at the moment fall into two categories, according to ACON -“ party boys and sex pigs.
The party boys take drugs in clubs or at parties and sometimes end up having unprotected sex. Sex pigs take drugs for the purpose of having sex, they regularly visit sex-on-premises venues and are often into leather, fisting and water sports.
Both high-risk groups will be targeted by ACON education campaigns in 2006, starting with the party boys this Mardi Gras season.
Pills, Passion and Party Boys is a free community forum being held on Wednesday 15 February at Midnight Shift Club as part of the Mardi Gras festival.
HIV is only one of the issues being discussed. The event is an opportunity for community members to share their thoughts about the state of Sydney’s party scene -“ what they like and dislike, how it’s changing, whether people are looking after each other, and so on.
ACON is doing this to explore what’s going on around the scene at the moment, ACON’s education officer Brad Gray said.
Also on hand to speak will be a number of scene experts, including DJ Jake Kilby, Toybox party producer Andy Schouten, drag queen Courtney Act, and Paul Dillon from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.
Kilby will also be getting behind the turntables afterwards so the party boys can do some partying.
Gray said ACON’s new STI (sexually transmitted infection) party plan, which will officially be launched at Fair Day, would also be discussed at the forum.
We want people to start getting tested for STIs as part of their party plan, he said. You go to Harbour Party, Mardi Gras and Toybox, then at the end of all those events go and get an STI test.
And for the sex pigs, ACON will be encouraging people who go to Bear Essentials, Mardi Gras and Indulgence to then go get an STI test.
The push for STI testing is aimed at preventing not only the spread of HIV. There has been a massive increase in syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydia infections amongst Sydney’s gay male population in the last couple of years.
A recent survey of gay men in Sydney found one in 10 had gonorrhoea, which often shows no symptoms.
The Sydney Sexual Health Centre at Sydney Hospital, Macquarie Street, offers free and anonymous STI tests for gay men. However, all GPs should be able to offer the test.
Gray said he was expecting to see quite a large crowd attending Pills, Passion and Party Boys as there had been a great deal of interest in the forum.
We’ve had a great response so far. To be honest we weren’t sure party boys would be interested, but we’ve had lots of RSVPs, he said.
Pills, Passion and Party Boys is on Wednesday 15 February at Midnight Shift Club -“ free entry. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or 9206 2052. Contact the Sydney Sexual Health Centre on 9382 7440.