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Written by CBC News Online staff
WebPosted Thu Feb 1 22:39:55 2001
VANCOUVER - Rates of HIV infection among gay men are shooting up all over North America except in Montreal and researchers want to know why.
"The ones who are getting infected, they're having more sexual partners, and they're engaging in sexual activities that are more risky," says Dr. Robert Hogg.
Hogg has been monitoring nearly 700 gay men in Vancouver since 1995. In the first five years of his study, 15 of them became infected with HIV.
Last year alone, 10 more joined them. [For more details, see abstract and letter to AIDS.]
It doesn't surprise AIDS prevention workers in Vancouver, where rates of HIV infection are rising and mirroring trends in other North American cities.
"A lot of young gay men, have not seen their friends or lovers die of HIV or AIDS," says Andrew Barker of the Pacific Aids Centre. "That's something that was definitely occurring in the '80s or '90s so that kind of in-your-face fear is no longer there."
Hogg says the success of treatment of HIV infection in the past several years has led to a certain complacency among that segment of the population.
That's a trend that has been seen in other large cities such as Toronto and San Francisco.
But not in Montreal, where University of Toronto researchers say more gay men are practising safer sex.
Other than that, there seems to be no difference between gay men there and in other cities, so some think the reason for the difference in rates of infection might be the AIDS education programs in Quebec.
"Are the provincial programs working better in Montreal?" said Dr. Robert Remis, of the University of Toronto. "Are they better co-ordinated? Are the messages more appropriate?"
The messages are better co-ordinated, says Roger LeClerk, who works with AIDS community groups in Montreal. But he says the programs are province-wide, and that makes all the difference.
"The message is still the same, no matter where you go in Quebec," he said.
Hogg isn't sure the answer is that simple, but he does say
finding out what they're doing right in Montreal could have an
impact on AIDS prevention across the country.
For more information, contact:
Vanguard Project Coordinator
608 - 1081 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6Z 1Y6