Popular Lao-Australian film actor Ananda Everingham has joined a campaign to promote safe sex for homosexuals.
He was announced on Thursday as the second ambassador for Adam's Love, a website sponsored by the Aids Research Centre of the Thai Red Cross Society. The first ambassador is actor Chaiwat Thongsang.
The website plans to use the reputation and popularity of Ananda to kick-start their new campaign "We Deserve It" to raise awareness of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases and also encourage blood testing every three months.
Actor Ananda Everingham, right, joins his colleague Chaiwat Thongsang on a campaign by the Thai Red Cross Society to promote safe sex for homosexuals. (Photo by Panumas Sanguanwong)
Ananda, best known for his leading role in the horror-film "Shutter", told reporters that he was proud to be part of the campaign. He said HIV seems to be an issue that has become overlooked and needed attention.
"Everybody has this sense that it's something of the past. HIV is a growing problem among the gay community. It's important we give this problem a voice so that we can kick start some momentum to fix it," he said.
Adam's Love website, www.adamslove.org, was launched last year by the centre by projecting itself as a website to educate men who have sex with men on safe sex. It has drawn 400,000 visitors and 4 million page views.
According to figures for last year released by the centre, 29% of gay men in Bangkok are HIV-infected. The sexual methods used by them are 10 times more likely to transfer HIV, the centre said.
Ananda said he is not afraid that the media will publicise him as being homosexual because his mission was clear.
"The campaign is focused on the gay community. But if you look past that, it's about the disease not about sexual preferences. I know exactly how straight I am. I wanted to channel the media attention I receive to a more important issue,'' he said
Dr Praphan Phanuphak, director of the centre, said there had been an increase in HIV testing among most groups except for the 12-18 age range, which posed a problem.
"Most adolescents feel hesitant to talk openly about their sexual behaviour and are often reluctant to seek advice. Many facilities require children under 18 to have a consent form filled in by their parents to get an HIV test,'' he said.