Australia’s largest HIV organisation, ACON, is continuing efforts to promote HIV prevention strategies among gay, bisexual and queer men from Asian cultural backgrounds in NSW with the launch of a new campaign video that enlist some of Asia’s most popular social media identities.
The new video aims to raise awareness of the HIV prevention drug PrEP among Mandarin-speaking gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM). It features Fufu and Josh, otherwise known on social media as ‘FJ234’, who boast over 350,000 subscribers on YouTube. They appear alongside a leading LGBT doctor and sexual health expert in the region, Dr Stephane Wen-Wei Ku, who has been actively involved in rolling out PrEP in Asia.
ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said that the campaign will play a crucial role in helping to raise awareness of the highly effective HIV prevention drug among Mandarin-speaking gay communities in NSW.
“Raising awareness of PrEP, which is an extremely effective strategy for preventing HIV transmission, is fundamental to our efforts in eliminating the virus in NSW. As we continue to observe declines in HIV transmissions, unfortunately we are still not seeing similar declines among gay men born overseas, particularly those from Mandarin-speaking Asian backgrounds.
“We know that men in our communities from Mandarin-speaking Asian backgrounds continue to encounter barriers to appropriate HIV prevention messaging, such as language and culture. This means that we must continue to employ new strategies and initiatives to engage Mandarin-speaking Asian gay men about HIV prevention, including increasing awareness of one of the most effective HIV prevention methods we have available – PrEP.”
PrEP has had an enormous impact on the rates of HIV transmission in NSW and Australia since it was first made available in 2016 through various state-based trials, and later in 2018 when it was listed on the national Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
“It is now the most commonly used HIV prevention strategy for gay men, but if we are to realise its full potential on reducing HIV transmission in NSW, we need to break down barriers and ensure that PrEP is easily accessible to all men in our communities,” Parkhill added.
The campaign video has been produced in partnership between ACON and sexual health organisation Hotline, based in Taiwan. It focuses on the foundational aspects of PrEP by addressing frequently asked questions about the drug, and uses answers based on the experiences of Mandarin-speaking gay, bisexual and queer men in Australia. As opposed to translating existing messages, the content was developed in language with community in Taiwan. As such, we have created messaging that is authentic to Mandarin-speaking men.
“In Asian cultures, many people are afraid of negotiating sex because they don’t want to feel embarrassed. PrEP is a good tool to protect yourself even if you are not ready to talk about sex with your sex partner. We could all have a great sex life without worrying about HIV,” Josh and Fufu said.
Parkhill added: “Collaboration is key to improving awareness of PrEP, and we are extremely grateful to Fufu, Josh, Dr Ku and Hotline for taking part in our campaign. By working with them we hope the video will be able to help educate Mandarin-speaking communities about a range of questions relating to PrEP, such as how effective it is, how easy it is to get, and different ways that PrEP can be taken.”
“ACON thanks everyone in our communities across NSW for demonstrating their commitment to ending HIV by taking action and consistently using HIV prevention methods, like PrEP, condoms and undetectable viral load, and testing often and regularly. It’s now easier than ever for everyone to play a role in preventing HIV, getting tested and taking control of your own sexual health.”
The video will be available in Traditional and Simplified Mandarin, with English subtitles.