The sex lives of gay Asian men living in Australia are constantly shifting and require tailored health responses, something which prompted ACON and partners to start the biannual Gay Asian Men Survey.

The survey aims to investigate the sexual health and wellbeing of gay Asian men in Australia – specifically in NSW – and recruits men that are over 18, have had sex with other men in the past five years, and self-identify as having an Asian background.

ACON’s community development and health promotion officer for gay Asian men, Tim Chen, says this specific cohort is increasingly sexually engaged.

“Gay Asian men now have similar rates of condomless anal intercourse to the general gay population with high rates of testing,” he says.

“However, HIV notifications among gay and homosexually active Asian men have risen over the past few years in NSW as well, and many of these men were diagnosed at a late stage of infection.

“These men were also underrepresented in NSW’s PrEP trial.”

Sexual practices, identities, and attitudes towards HIV among gay Asian men are rapidly changing.

Chen says the shifting values towards sexuality throughout Asia has meant that the experience, knowledge, and behaviours of men living in Sydney today are very different to those that arrived in the city a decade ago.

He adds that increased visibility of homosexuality in the media has affected people’s access to health.

“Gay Asian men continue to face barriers to appropriate health promotion and HIV prevention, treatment, and care,” he says.

“Previous experiences of criminalisation, fear of disclosure, experiences of racism, and isolation all affect people’s ability to negotiate safe sex and access testing and treatment options.”

While the number of new HIV diagnoses among Australia-born gay men last year was 43 per cent less than the previous six-year average, this hasn’t been the case for overseas-born men.

Through the Gay Asian Men Survey, Chen says he hopes the results will indicate patterns of sexual and health-seeking behaviour among gay Asian men.

“One of our aims with the survey is not simply to yield data but to raise community awareness and discussion around HIV notifications and changing sexual behaviours among gay and homsexually active Asian men, and engage them in the community response,” he says.

“The Asian Gay Men’s project at ACON will continue to conduct regular events including ConversAsians workshops, SocialisAsians social events, and SPARK Start Making Sense workshops in Mandarin Chinese.

“The survey results will help guide the content of these workshops around effective HIV prevention and health promotion, as well inform the development of further resources, programs, and services.”

The survey is a collaboration between UNSW’s Centre for Social Research in Health (CSRH), ACON’s Asian Gay Men Project, Sydney Metro Local Health Districts, and Multicultural HIV and and Hepatitis Service (MHAHS).

This year’s Gay Asian Men Survey is currently recruiting in Sydney via survey collection in sex-on-premises and social venues, as well as online: ACON encourages gay and bisexual Asian men to participate.

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