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GENEVA, Switzerland (July 3, 1998 - AIDS Conference)---Despite greater awareness about how HIV/AIDS is transmitted and easy access to condoms, preliminary research on men who have sex with men (MSM) in Fiji's capital city, Suva, shows that a significant number continue to practice unprotected sex.

"Knowledge does not necessarily link to behavior change," peer educator Jovesa Speith told a 12th World AIDS Conference session earlier this week. "Despite fairly good knowledge about HIV/AIDS and STDs, men who have sex with men are still engaged in activities that increase their vulnerability."

The AIDS Task Force of Fiji research project on the behavior and attitudes of men who have sex with men is the first of its kind among the 25 island countries and territories that span the 30 million square kilometers of the Pacific Ocean.

Speith says there are no prevention programs in the region that specifically target MSM. HIV surveillance is ''very uneven and inconsistent, and despite the relatively low number of reported cases, in many countries the risks remain significant."

( Forwarded by Scott Damon

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