Be blunt in language about sex and HIV risk, activists warn
Lack of anonymous testing irritates AIDS Committee head
Health activists in Newfoundland and Labrador say the numbers of gay men being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS continues to rise in the province, and something needs to be done to break the stigma surrounding the illness.
While HIV remains a taboo subject for some people, others are working to ensure the people directly affected by the illnesses are connected with the latest research.
Here we are, 25 years later, and we still do not have anonymous testing in this province- Gerard Yetman
A gay men's health activist who calls himself Mikiki says information needs be presented in frank language.
"It's one thing for a bunch of doctors and scientists to have information that impacts my health and the choices I'm making, but if that doesn't find a way to my ears in a way that I can understand, then what's the point?" he said.
Mikiki added the problem doesn't apply only to stereotypes, and everyone can make mistakes with dire consequences.
"We are seeing a lot of younger gay men who are in what they think to be monogamous relationships testing HIV positive because they're not having conversations with their partner about, 'Oh, well I actually went to the bar and did X-Y-Z with so and so, and I was too nervous to tell you because we're supposed to be monogamous," he said.
'Lack of medical knowledge'
Gerard Yetman, the executive director of the province's AIDS Committee said stigma and discrimination are leading to a lack of quality health care for gay men in the province.
"We feel that there's a lack of knowledge within our medical community regarding gay men's health. Here we are, 25 years later, and we still do not have anonymous testing in this province," said Yetman.
According to Yetman, there needs to be more open discussion about what's really going on in the gay community to ensure people are getting the services they need and want.
"The landscape continues to shift in sexual health, in sexually transmitted diseases, so it is very important," he said.
"It's also very important that this discussion continues so that AIDS service organizations, health service organizations, are aware of what the issues are, we are hearing directly from our community what they are, and have our community be a part of the solution."
A public forum was held Tuesday night in St. John's to discuss the latest medical research, and how people can apply it to their own situations.