November 11, 2008 14:44 ET

World AIDS Day: ichannel Explores Why HIV is on the Rise in Canada

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 11, 2008) - Since 2000, new HIV infections are becoming increasingly frequent in Canada, particularly among gay and bisexual men. On World AIDS Day, December 1st, ichannel presents two programs that provide reasons why. The digital television network advises that the evening's lineup is not appropriate for younger viewers, but provides information designed to advise the sexually active.

Head of Programming Rosemary Fusca warns, "These shows may prove disturbing to some viewers. Without condemning or judging participants, practices and lifestyles are revealed that may be quite alien or even shocking for some members of the audience. However, it's important to address and discuss reasons and solutions for this health issue."

At 8:00pm (ET and PT), ichannel flagship show @ issue features an installment entitled "Killer Sex". Host Kevin O'Keefe interviews Ian Mahaffy, from the People with AIDS Foundation. Mahaffy discovered that he was HIV positive in 1992, during a routine blood test. He describes the horrific side effects of the drugs he was prescribed to control the virus and the familial and social ridicule that he endured. Duncan MacLachlan of AIDS Committee Toronto discusses promiscuity and prevention, and Jane Greer of the Hassle Free Clinic actually tests O'Keefe for HIV during the show, illustrating a new technique that provides results in thirty seconds. Formerly, blood pathology required a two-week waiting period for an outcome.

The final segment features an interview with Louise Hogarth, producer of the 2003 documentary "The Gift"; the conversation provides a segue into a presentation of the documentary at 9:00pm (ET and PT), which explores the practices of "barebacking", "bug chasing" and "gift giving". Barebacking is slang for unprotected sex; bug chasing and gift giving refer to a small subculture of gay men who actually desire and pursue HIV infection.

The show spotlights Doug Hitzel, a somewhat naive young gay man who contracted the virus having "bareback sex", and now lives with regret and fear. Another principal is "Ken Boy", a "bug chaser" who purposely sought infected partners on the internet to "seroconvert" or infect him with HIV. In a chilling monologue, Ken Boy discloses that he is "relieved and happy" that he no longer "has to worry" about contracting the virus. Whether his behaviour is fatalistic fetish or morbid self-destructive obsession, The Gift is very objective in its descriptive disclosure of a world involving unprotected sex in extremely frank and graphic terms.

ichannel is available by subscription from cable and satellite providers across Canada; for more information visit www.ichannel.ca.

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