THE Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) has released a new video promoting the importance of gay men getting tested for STIs every three months.

The video, Wayne and Kevin 2, is a follow up to the VAC’s popular first installment that was released early last year.

It follows a same-sex attracted man as he navigates sex, men, and sexual health while using his pet cat as a sounding board.

The clip was made in collaboration with animator Michael Cusack who created the viral Damo and Darren web series on YouTube.

“The VAC approached me after I made the Damo and Darren cartoon because they enjoyed the style and wanted me to work on their project, which seemed like a fun project to animate for,” Cusack told the Star Observer.

“I think it’s an uncomfortable subject for some people so it was really smart of the VAC to incorporate the issue into a light-hearted cartoon about a gay guy talking to a cat because it conveys the message in a less fear-mongering way.”

VAC chief executive Simon Ruth said the video reinforced the messages in the organisation’s long running Drama Downunder campaign.

“It’s trying to link testing to the change of seasons,” he said.

“If you’re a sexually active man you should be getting testing in summer, autumn, winter, and spring.

“This video reinforces this important message in a humourous way, and it’s been one of our more successful projects.”

The VAC and Living Positive Victoria have also launched a separate campaign encouraging men newly diagnosed with HIV to go on treatment early.

The campaign is called Treat HIV Now and features images of real people living with HIV to encourage early treatment.

It grew out of recent evidence from the global START study revealing there are significant health benefits for individuals who start antiretroviral therapy for HIV as soon as they are diagnosed.

“For thirty years we’ve said you should go on treatment when you’re ready, and now we’re saying you should go as early as possible,” Ruth told the Star Observer.

“It’s about trying to get HIV-negative people to realise the day they find out they have HIV is the day they should decide to go on treatment.

“There’s no other illness where you would put off treatment, so we need to change that thinking in people’s minds – the longer you put off treatment the more likely you are to face issues such as chronic diseases.”

Ruth added that by putting HIV-positive community members in the campaign, it will have a more powerful impact.

“I’m very grateful to John, Craig, and Jarrod for putting their faces to the campaign, because it helps to decrease the stigma around HIV and getting treated.”

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