Figures showing higher and increasing rates of HIV infection in Asian-born men-who-have-sex-with-men in Victoria have prompted a forum in June to discuss wider health and inclusion issues for gay and bisexual men from ethnic or migrant backgrounds.

Very little research has been collected on non-Australian-born MSM and there is a limited understanding of the unique issues facing the group, Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health senior project worker Daniel Reeders said.

“What we’ve found so far is the issues for culturally and linguistically diverse men were quite different from Australian-born, Anglo gay men … in a family and social context and individual sex practices,” he told Southern Star.

“We’re interested in what more can be done. It’s about having conversations … talking to the community to find the issues that matter.”

According to Victorian figures for new HIV infections, the rates in South East Asian men jumped from six new infections in 2004 to 16 in 2008.

Reeders said the figures come despite Asian-born men reporting much less risky sexual behaviour and less drug-taking.

The forum — Australian GLBTI Multicultural Conference — will discuss health and wellbeing, and racism and inclusion in the wider gay community.

The fourm will be held on Sunday, June 6. Organisers are inviting gay and bisexual men from ethnic or migrant backgrounds to share their experiences and discuss possible measures to address the issues raised.

A similar consultation was held in July last year.

Reeders said in the last consultation men from ethnic or migrant backgrounds reported high levels of racism with one quarter of respondents citing racism as a problem in gay social spaces.

“Participants found online spaces to be particularly hostile,” he said. “With statements in online dating sites like, ‘no Asians, fats or femmes’. ”

The forum will be facilitated by Australian GLBTI Multicultural Conference secretary Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli and Ministerial Advisory Committee on GLBTI Health and Wellbeing chair Dr Ruth McNair.

info: The AGMC will be held from 2-5pm, Sunday, June 6 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. To RSVP, email danielr@ceh.org.au

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