Friday, July 11, 2008

An Online Soap Dealing with HIV Education

LA Times today features an article about a new online soap opera about young gay men which features HIV education.

From its opening scene, the online soap opera "In the Moment" pulls no punches -- because, its creators say, it cannot. The show, which has drawn tens of thousands of viewers in the last few months, is a racy, unvarnished portrait of gay L.A.

It is also, at its core, about HIV and AIDS.

Recent years have brought a wave of new programs designed to reinvigorate outreach in the gay community, as well as a dialogue about men's sexuality.

There are colorful trucks that take rapid-response HIV testing to the streets. Government-funded "POLs" -- popular opinion leaders -- scour the town for other socially influential gay men and women, give them risk-reduction training and send them back into the community to spread the word. There's even a proposal to design jeans with built-in "condom pockets" to promote the idea that condom use should be a routine part of gay culture, not an afterthought.

But more than anything, said Susan R. Cohen, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's director of health education and prevention, "we needed to be where the guys are" -- on the Internet.


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