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Call for Internet chat rooms to carry HIV warnings

Call for Internet chat rooms to carry HIV warnings

HIV warnings – including in Asian languages - are needed on Internet chat rooms, say researchers.

The recommendation comes from Massey University researchers whose data shows that a relatively high number of New Zealand gay men and women, particularly Asian immigrants, use the Internet to find sexual partners.

Findings from the Lavender Islands study – a comprehensive survey of gay, lesbian and bisexual communities in New Zealand launched in 2004 – reveal that over 40 per cent of respondents to the survey used the Internet to find partners.

More men than women, and more people aged under 40 entered cyberspace to seek sexual partners. And although Asian-born people made up only a small number of the total respondents, they were two to three times more likely to use the Internet for sex, according to data from a just-completed paper titled Reaching Out, Hooking Up – Lavender Netlife in a New Zealand study.

The findings – part of a larger, “strengths-based” study into gay and lesbian lifestyles - suggested “a clear opportunity to present robust health risk reduction messages to both men and women,” with messages “in languages used by all relevant populations,” says Dr Mark Henrickson, a senior lecturer in social work at Massey University’s Albany campus who is heading the study.

Of the 2300 people who answered 133 lifestyle questions about health, economics, employment, education, leisure, families, relationships, families, identity and spirituality, 2251 answered questions on using the Internet to seek sexual partners.

Dr Henrickson said in his view the resulting 43 per cent who said they had used the Internet for this purpose was “a remarkable number.”

The study also showed that those who had the greatest number of partners were most likely to have used the Internet to find a sexual partner or relationship.

Dr Henrickson decribes the Lavender Islands Survey as “the most comprehensive study of this group done to date in New Zealand. We expect it to be of international significance.”


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