Health Minister Greg Hunt orders “urgent review” of EMEN8 website

A joint initiative of the Victorian AIDS Council and AIDS Council of New South Wales (ACON) is facing review by the federal government after a report from The Australian.

The EMEN8 website, established earlier this year, is a sexual health promotion and awareness resource aimed at men who have sex with men (MSM).

The Australian have reported that federal Health Minister Greg Hunt will be launching a review into the website, after the publication drew his attention to some of its content.

Journalist Rebecca Urban described EMEN8 as “a digital news site that provides gay men with tips on picking up at the gym, improving their Grindr rating and reviews for kinky sex toys.”

Urban also raises concerns about a particular article that promotes condomless sex with a partner living with HIV whose viral load is undetectable as “safe sex”.

The Kirby Institute study Australian Opposites Attract, which is cited in the EMEN8 article, was “an observational study of male gay serodiscordant couples – that is, relationships where one partner is HIV positive and one partner is HIV negative.”

Of the 343 couples who engaged in the study, none of the negative partners became HIV positive – with the exception of three who sought sexual activity outside of their relationship.

Urban criticises the article for not highlighting the study’s “true transmission rate” of up to 1.56% per year, or the risk of contracting other STI’s during condomless sex; despite this particular study being carried out for the sole purpose of better understanding HIV and undetectable viral loads.

The EMEN8 website is also frequently updated with other articles that promote condom use, sexual health information on a range of STI’s and encourages regular testing for men who have sex with men.

Urban also questions the website’s use of the colloquial “daddy”, when discussing relationships between men of disparate ages.

A spokesperson for the Health Minister told Urban that associations with “underage or unsafe behaviour” are “utterly unacceptable.”

“Any funding provided by the Australian Government for health education should be used for health education and must be in appropriate context,” the spokesperson said.

“This grand was provided in 2016 for health education. Minister Hunt was not aware of the website and has now ordered an urgent review.”

OIP Staff

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