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The role of takatapui identity in preventing HIV transmission in Maori gay men in New Zealand
University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
This paper reports the interim findings of an investigation into Maori sexuality and the implications that these have for the transmission of HIV among Maori men who identify as takatapui. Takatapui identity is the favoured form of identity for increasing numbers of Maori men in New Zealand and incorporates both sexual and cultural aspects of one’s identity.
Maori men who identify as takatapui were recruited and interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule. Key informants who work within the HIV sector were also interviewed.
There are encouraging signs, based on this project and a number of other research projects conducted among indigenous men who have sex with men, that attachment to takatapui identity provides a protective mechanism against HIV infection. Men who claim takatapui identity report fewer risk practices associated with HIV than Maori men who claim gay identity only.
These findings are important because, as with a range of other health indicators, Maori men appear to be at increased risk of HIV infection. The most recent surveillance figures show that 11% of all AIDS notifications to August 2003 were Maori. At the same time, there has been a decrease in reported HIV notifications among Maori, suggesting that rates of testing among Maori are lower than those of non-Maori. This has important implications since it means that Maori have poorer access to HIV interventions than do non-Maori New Zealanders.
If takatapui identity provides beneficial health protection, as this study suggests, then it is important that indigenous men in New Zealand be provided with access to health promotion activities which foster a greater understanding of one’s sexual and cultural identity, as exemplified by takatapui identity. More widely, this research has considerable implications for other indigenous people who live within majority cultures.
The XV International AIDS Conference
Abstract no. WePeD6388
” C Aspin , The role of takatapui identity in preventing HIV transmission in Maori gay men in New Zealand. Poster Exhibition: The XV International AIDS Conference: Abstract no. WePeD6388″