Actor Alan Cumming has spoken about HIV and AIDS, saying that young people in particular must be aware of using condoms.

In an interview with Attitude, out on Monday, the star said he believed there would be a new wave of deaths and that the disease is “still a real threat”.

He added that some psychologists believe the deaths of the 1980s and 1990s have led to a kind of fetishising of barebacking (sex without a condom).

Cumming, who has worked to raise HIV awareness, said: “AIDS will kill you, and it will make your life terrible. You can live longer now but there will be a wave of death when the new combinations stop being effective. And there are other horrible things out there. It just goes in phases, in terms of what level of education people get. I think in some way people want to be free, and not wear a condom as if a condom is an obstacle and something we have to do to protect from potential threat.

“Sometimes people do think, ‘F**k the threat; I want to do the other thing’. It is a mental thing. There’s a psychologist here who said that it’s because the gay community has not properly grieved for the AIDS epidemic.

“In a way that’s why barebacking has become a sort of fetish. It’s up to all of us, especially people who have lived through a time when it was a real threat. It is still a real threat. But I remember that advert with that big iceberg, and I was just becoming sexually active when AIDS started. So I suppose it has been drummed into me. We all have to make sure, especially with young people, that you have to wear a condom. Not just because of HIV, just generally. There are lots of ugly things there. And if someone has not worn a condom with you, then they probably haven’t with many people. Think about it that way.”

Cumming was speaking to Attitude as part of its annual sex issue, which includes an opinion piece on why HIV is still a taboo topic of conservation.

Editor Matthew Todd said: “I think it’s incredibly important that HIV continues to be up there in the gay press. We have a piece by Cary James at GMFA in this issue saying we need to think about HIV and talk about it more, that we are all able to talk about sex so much – what we like, what we want, how we want it, who we want – but HIV is still a taboo.

“We had a meeting with the National Aids Trust recently and the statistics are truly frightening. One in eight gay men in London are HIV-positive and many people who believe they are negative are not. I’m glad we’re talking about it in our sex issue. We clearly don’t want to be sending a message that sex is bad but it’s important that HIV needs to be back up there on the agenda. Young gay men do not seem to realise that gay men are still disproportionately affected by HIV. We need to have a massive campaign to start making this issue high-profile again.”

Attitude is on newsstands on Monday.
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