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TAIWAN - Jan 21, 2004

Police in Taipei raided an underground gay party organized in a private home last Saturday. They detained all 92 men, who were wearing only underwear as TV cameras filmed, and tested each of them for drugs and HIV. Footage broadcast on television also showed discarded condoms and tissues littering the apartment floor.

Taiwan requires that all people testing positive for HIV be reported to the government and laws make it illegal for people with HIV to knowingly pass it on to others through sexual activity. 28 men tested positive and only 14 of them were currently on the government's list. The remaining 64 men will be required by law to re-test in some months time.

Health Minister, Chen Chien Jen, said that partygoers who knew that they had HIV yet still chose to attend the party could face criminal charges. He did not say whether or not counseling would be provided to traumatized attendees of the private party.

Aside from used condoms, no doubt being tested for DNA, police found a substantial amount of recreational drugs.

Private drug and sex parties have been a popular alternative to gay saunas and discos for many young gay men in countries around Asia for nearly a decade. Mixing drugs, including alcohol, with sexual activity has been shown to substantially increase the risk of transmitting HIV as safer sex practices are abandoned along with inhibitions.

Recent reports on the dramatic increase of HIV among young gay men in Thailand point to a shameful lack of understanding and education aimed at young gays in the region.

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