The University of Auckland’s social and community health department has established a Gay Men’s Sexual Health Research Group (GMSH) to focus on STI prevention among gay man.

Supported by the New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF), the new group will initially address the usage of condoms and vaccination along with whether gay and bisexual men are comfortable revealing their sexuality to their GP.

Research topics also include sexual connectivity with the concentrated gay communities in New Zealand.

Group director Dr Peter Saxton said: “We feel the timing is right. Gay communities have recently achieved legal equality in New Zealand and attention has now moved to health equality. We want to help realise that aspiration by improving the knowledge base and offering leadership and advocacy.

“Treating HIV costs $18 million annually and rising, yet we’re only investing around $2 million to prevent new HIV infections through behaviour change. HPV – the cause of a large proportion of anal, head and neck and penile cancers – hits gay and bisexual men the hardest, but they’re not offered free vaccination.

“This makes little public health sense, and is ethically problematic when we have such an effective intervention.”