The Victorian AIDS Council has hit back at claims not enough is being done to target young gay men at risk of contracting HIV.
Southern Star last week reported criticism from former PLWHA campaign coordinater Daniel Reeders who said the current prevention campaign was not speaking to young gay men.
According to Department of Human Services figures, the rate of new HIV diagnoses in men aged 20 to 29 years has jumped around 35 percent from 2007 to 2008, with 52 HIV cases reported in 2007, compared with 70 in 2008.
VAC executive director Mike Kennedy said the VAC has been developing a campaign to target young men which will be rolled out in the next few weeks. He refuted claims the current protection campaign has not been effective.
“I know Daniel has a view the campaign doesn’t resonate with younger men, but that’s not our experience talking to younger gay men,” Kennedy said.
“What that [porn] campaign does is use a range of images, some of which include young men, but also includes older gay men.
“We certainly haven’t seen anything in the social research data in the groups we’ve run where young gay men say, ‘I don’t have to worry about unprotected sex or HIV because I don’t have to worry about that until I’m 30’. ”
Research conducted by the Burnet Institute in a 2008 Midsumma study indicated a 40 percent recognition rate of the porn campaign in 19 – 29-year-olds.
Kennedy said no single factor has emerged which explains the rise in HIV diagnoses in young men and it still may be too early to tell.
“One of the things we do know, and the young gay men we’ve been talking to have reminded us, is that you can’t say, ‘gay men under 30’ and then make a generalisation that makes any more sense than gay men over 30. There is a range of ways gay men under 30 lead their lives, some of which have more or less risk attached to them, and the same with men over 30.”
VAC health promotions manager Colin Batrouney said the campaign was designed with a variety of age groups in mind and said there was no firm evidence young people felt disenfranchised.
“I know there has been a bunch of people who’ve been very critical of that campaign but there’s no evidence whatsoever that young people look at that campaign and feel actively excluded from it.”

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