ACON Sexperts    James Gray
Let’s take a journey…
Today’s Presentation•   Why is this new at ACON in Sydney?•   Principles•   The Project•   What did we expect?•   What did...
Outreach isn’t new! Except… • ACON hasn’t used this as a formal modality   for HIV prevention for gay men in Sydney   for ...
Principles of Our Projects•   HIV Prevention•   Improving Sexual Health•   Peer Education•   Sex and gay positivity•   Com...
The Project• Ben Bavinton, Teddy Rose and Chris Brew•   Pilot was run at 357 (Sydney City Steam)•   Trained volunteers•   ...
Passive engagement          strategies
What did we expect?• Small numbers of basic questions• Risk reduction to be front and centre• Some pushback from customers
What were we asked?• Oral Sex and HIV• HIV Basics• Where to test? (self testing available)• Symptoms of common STIs• Issue...
‘I have trouble staying          hard’
Why has this worked?• The volunteers• The venue?• By being ‘available’ rather than pushy• Persistence• ‘New project’ to ma...
Broader Implications• Men still seek reassurance on the basics• Others DON”T KNOW the basics• Being out in the community d...
Finally• Questions• Comments• ThoughtsContact:James Grayjgray@acon.org.au02 9206 2041
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Sexperts - a peer outreach model that works

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James Gray, (ACON) reflects on the successful reintroduction of peer outreach into gay sex on premises venues in Sydney. This presentation was given at the AFAO/NAPWA Gay Men's HIV Health Promotion Conference in May 2012.

Published in: Health & Medicine, Education
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  • The lighting is dim as you walk down the hallway. The scent of eucalyptus fills your head as walk into the wet area and music is playing in the background. Men are sitting up in the spa lazily watching the men walk past and three guys are casually washing themselves in the open showers, you can’t be sure but one of them appears to be stroking himself while the others steal glances. You walk up the open central stairwell and a group of young men are leaning over the rail checking you out and whispering to each other. You sit down on a bench and men stream past, looking at you with hooded expressions and never maintaining eye contact. As they turn the corner they often look back to try and understand what you are doing there, but then someone else catches their eye and they move on. Men every of every shape, size and ethnicity walk past mostly singly but sometimes together. Some swagger by confidently others dart by and are gone in the blink of an eye. You slowly become aware of other sounds in the venue. The faint sound of flesh slapping on flesh comes from deeper inside the venue. Occasional grunts come from the cubical next to you. You start to smile, you feel at home – it is just another night as an ACON Sexpert
  • Commonly used around the world Used at ACON through SWOP and some regional Offices but not in Sydney! There were some entrenched attitudes within the organisation, that I initially held as well, that this was not an appropriate… At the core of this was an idea that gay men had a certain sophistication when it came to HIV. That they did not need nor want a service like this which could be perceived to be an encroachment into one of the most sexual community spaces.
  • We don’t interrupt men in their activities this is a passive outreach in that we place ourselves in the space and then leave it entirely to the guys whether they choose o engage with us. We do utilise certain strategies to increase engagement such as waving double-ended dildo.
  • Obviously there is the possibility that the gay men who are engaging in risk reduction strategies may not wish to engage with us – too sophisticated!?!
  • What was different about this attempt at peer outreach compared to previous attempts?
  • We always need to remember the diversity within our community. It is true that there are some gay men in Sydney that have been exposed to all our messages and are comfortable with their HIV knowledge. However, there are always new men arriving into our communities, and not just young ones. There are men who for a variety of reasons have not previously engaged with us – people move in and out of long term relationships, move to Sydney from places where AIDS Councils have no presence. We absolutely need to engage with the new opportunities presented by combination prevention however, I believe it will also be essential to maintain the basics as well.
  • While risk reduction strategies and other more complex HIV education issues need greater community dialogue and focus, it is still important to maintain programs that provide basic HIV knowledge and can refer people to testing services. Diverse models of community engagement can be an important component of the response and the reintroduction of peer outreach into gay venues in Sydney has been successful and should be expanded
  • Sexperts - a peer outreach model that works

    1. 1. ACON Sexperts James Gray
    2. 2. Let’s take a journey…
    3. 3. Today’s Presentation• Why is this new at ACON in Sydney?• Principles• The Project• What did we expect?• What did we get asked?• Broader Implications
    4. 4. Outreach isn’t new! Except… • ACON hasn’t used this as a formal modality for HIV prevention for gay men in Sydney for well over a decade • Sydney gay men are too sophisticated (?!)
    5. 5. Principles of Our Projects• HIV Prevention• Improving Sexual Health• Peer Education• Sex and gay positivity• Community Development• Harm Reduction• Youth ParticipationSourced from Bavinton, B (2007) Start Making Sense Evaluation Report
    6. 6. The Project• Ben Bavinton, Teddy Rose and Chris Brew• Pilot was run at 357 (Sydney City Steam)• Trained volunteers• 2 volunteer per shift• 3 shifts a week• Ongoing feedback mechanisms• How do we interact with people?
    7. 7. Passive engagement strategies
    8. 8. What did we expect?• Small numbers of basic questions• Risk reduction to be front and centre• Some pushback from customers
    9. 9. What were we asked?• Oral Sex and HIV• HIV Basics• Where to test? (self testing available)• Symptoms of common STIs• Issues socialisingAnd…
    10. 10. ‘I have trouble staying hard’
    11. 11. Why has this worked?• The volunteers• The venue?• By being ‘available’ rather than pushy• Persistence• ‘New project’ to many guys
    12. 12. Broader Implications• Men still seek reassurance on the basics• Others DON”T KNOW the basics• Being out in the community diversifies who we see
    13. 13. Finally• Questions• Comments• ThoughtsContact:James Grayjgray@acon.org.au02 9206 2041

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