Condoms free but Gathering prices soar

Nelson Mail - 24 December 1999

Revellers heading for The Gathering will get free condoms, but some are being stung $400 for tickets.

A safe sex campaign will see 5000 condoms handed out free at The Gathering, which opens next Friday at Canaan Downs on the Takaka Hill. But The Gathering's publicist, Alison Green, said today profiteers were asking $400 for tickets.

The 8000 official tickets sold out at the end of October and cost $105 or $125, Ms Green said. She had seen tickets for sale in publications like Buy, Sell, Swap and Trade and Exchange and through radio statons for $400.

"Scalpers are taking advantage of people who are desperate to go to The Gathering and making a profit on something they have put no energy into creating," she said. The tickets now on offer came from people who had bought a number with the intention of selling them for a profit or from people who had changed their minds, and there were forged tickets in circulation, she said.

But some things are free at The Gathering.

A Family Planning Association campaign will distribute the free condoms at the millennium dance party. Last week the association launched its summer safer sex campaign aimed at young holidaymakers, especially men aged 17-22, out to celebrate the festive season. The campaign carries the message "the only difference between a stud and a STD (sexually transmitted disease) is U".

Posters, cards and condoms have been prepared by the association for distribution through nationwide holiday spots, including Nelson.

Five members of the association will travel from Christchurch and Dunedin to distribute the cards and condoms at The Gathering, including four peer support educators from Christchurch. Otago family planner educator and team leader Libby Paulin said the association was targeting The Gathering because it drew large numbers of young people to one place.

Ms Paulin said the campaign was based on research compiled by the Ministry of Youth Affairs earlier this year, which showed that young men were missing on education messages about sexual and reproductive health.

The campaign targeted sexually transmitted diseases, rather than pregnancy, because that was of greater concern to men, she said. The campaign was not to encourage young people to have sex, she said. "We're not pushing to have sex, but if you are going to, do it safely," she said.

The campaign has also been endorsed by Nelson GP's spokesman Dr Graham Loveridge.

Nelson Mail 24 December 1999

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