Overseas HIV risk warning

Mr Burry said the number of gay men contracting the disease ” the traditional high- risk group ” had remained steady but figures showed more people outside this group were becoming infected.

‘There is a worrying increase among heterosexual men acquiring HIV overseas,’ he said.

‘We are thinking that because there is increased access to Asia, where the prevalence of HIV is higher, and work patterns allowing five to six days off in a stretch, more people are going there.

‘And there is a natural tendency that on holiday, you behave somewhat differently to how they behave at home.

‘This is leading to higher rates of sexually transmitted infections and exposure to HIV.’

Figures revealed by the Community Newspaper Group earlier this year showed heterosexual men and women accounted for almost 50 per cent of new HIV diagnoses in Perth over the past two years.

To help increase awareness about the risks, the WA AIDS Council is participating in an ECU pilot project Beyond the Red Ribbon: Improving HIV and STD awareness through media education programs.

Project co-ordinator Trevor Cullen said the aim of the program was to increase and improve reporting about HIV, including people with the disease sharing their stories.

‘In terms of health communications, a narrative where people share their own stories goes a way to lessening fear and stigma,’ he said.

Associate Professor Cullen said he would also explain the program at the International AIDS Conference, to be held in Melbourne in July. Mr Burry said he hoped it would enable HIV experts to educate the community on a broader level.

The WA AIDS Council has launched a Sex in Other Cities Facebook page, to make people more aware of STI and HIV risks when travelling overseas.

– Facebook.com/sexinother cities.