To help create awareness on safe sex practices in a space where such information is not often provided, a city not-for-profit has created an online page on a website frequented by members of the MSM (men having sex with men) community.
“At present a lot of people from the community connect online and meet up later. They have access to sex without being informed about the importance of safe, protected sex and the risks posed by sexually transmitted diseases,” said Pallav Patankar, director, HIV programmes, Humsafar Trust, the organisation that started the page on www.gayromeo.com, a popular MSM website.
The Humsafar page on the site routinely sends newsletters to its followers about safe sex and regular HIV testing, among other subjects including “cool gay hangouts”.
The website has 98,000 Indian members of which 9000 are from Mumbai. The importance of online intervention was discussed at the meetings to finalise the programme for National AIDS Control Programme IV, which is likely to take off next year.
“While the use of internet to seek partners is widespread, I think most members of the community have got the safe sex message. I have hardly come across people who are not aware about safe sex practices," said Vikram Phukan, a playwright and a former editor of a magazine called Bombay Dost.