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Filipino gays launch beauty contest to boost AIDS awareness

Filipino gays launch beauty contest to boost AIDS awareness

Gay Filipino men--one wearing only shorts adorned with multicolored condoms--paraded before the press this week to raise awareness of the importance of HIV antibody testing. Contestants will take part in a beauty pageant on December 27, touted as the first in the Philippines for "straight-looking" gay men. The event is meant to challenge gay and heterosexual men to get tested for the disease. "While we agree that taking the AIDS test is a personal decision, we feel that encouraging our fellow gays--and most especially straight males with a wandering eye--to take the AIDS test is a step in the right direction," said Vincent Mendoza, vice president for the event's organizer, Altermale Association. During the press briefing announcing the pageant, one contestant strutted in front of the cameras sporting a black mask and latex shorts with multicolored condoms, chains, and a placard that read: "Later is too late." Another posed wearing boxing shorts made of plastic bubble wrap, condom gloves, and a cardboard cape that said: "Fight AIDS." The Philippines has a relatively low HIV prevalence rate, with less than 1% of adults infected. About 700 patients have developed AIDS since 1984, and 262 people have died, according to official statistics. (AP)

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