Interview with L.Y.C (Love Your Condom): Ricky Te Akau

1. When/why was LYC initiated?

L.Y.C is a community-focused programme designed to create a condom culture across Aotearoa New Zealand. L.Y.C encourages all gay and bisexual men to use condoms and lube every time they have sex. It is a sexy, upbeat call to ‘love your condom’. ‘Love your condom’ is about moving us past all those lame excuses not to be safe, and inspires us to not just tolerate, but love the sexy confidence that comes with condom covered cocks.

L.Y.C recognises that gay and bisexual men, the people most at risk of HIV, are influenced by their partners, whānau, friends, colleagues, employers and the environment in which they live. While it is essential that L.Y.C reaches and affects all gay and bisexual men living in Aotearoa New Zealand, it is also necessary to reach the people who can support, influence and enable gay and bisexual men to use condoms and lube every time they have anal sex. L.Y.C. Was originally launched in 2009 in it’s first iteration as ‘Get It On!’.

2. What is your role at NZAF?

I am the Social Marketing Coordinator Maori and look after aspects of online and mass media of L.Y.C. with a particular focus on Takatāpui and their whanau.

3. What is your opinion on sex work?

I believe in choices especially choices that empower individuals and allow lives to be lived and no judgements be made. As the old adage says sex work is the oldest profession and has been happening since the dawn of time . . . I think the stigma attached to sex work and workers is a new one.

4. Do you know the current statistics of HIV/AIDS in NZ?

The best place for the most up to date information would be to visit our website at NZAF http: http://www.nzaf.org.nz/

5. What services do NZAF & LYC offer?

Again all our NZAF services are listed on our website with LYC being the social marketing arm that promotes safe sexy times and being empowered in making the right decisions.

6. How could other people in society support NZAF?

There are no boundaries to assisting NZAF be it with your time in volunteering or through donating in a monetary sense. Our doors are always open.

7. What other organisations do NZAF work with?

The list is endless! We work with and support various organisations who likewise support LGBTQI and heterosexual people in either HIV prevention, people living with HIV and those who are there for assistance.

8. Tell me about the last World HIV/AIDS conference you attended in Melbourne last month?

Melbourne was an amazing opportunity to be able to see what other countries are doing in research, prevention and assistance for those affected directly and indirectly with HIV/AIDS. Some 15,000 passionate people from around the world attended and this brought about effective networking, sharing and valuable knowledge.

9. Why do you think HIV/AIDS is still so stigmatized in modern society?

The lack of knowledge around transmission and those that are affected by it. More education around the epidemic is needed and with this would come greater acceptance.

10. What do you think of the word ‘WHORE’?

The word has been bandied around for years and is inexplicably connected with prostitution . . . and in this sense is used in a derogatory way. I’m not one for name calling . . . and don’t think WHORE is an offensive word.

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