Communications News: Publicity sees asexual group members triple

A worldwide group for 'asexuals' tripled its membership last week after a wave of publicity about members' sexual orientation brought a surge of interest.

The Asexual Visibility and Education Network (Aven) has devised a new communications strategy to build on its growing membership.

The network's website processed between 250-300 additional worldwide members last week after an article in the New Scientist provoked unprecedented publicity for the voluntary organisation.

Half of the new members were thought to live in the UK.

To capitalise on the new members, Aven will hold its first convention early next year. It has also received offers from lesbian, gay, and bisexual groups at universities to distribute its leaflets.

Aven exists to raise awareness of people who never feel the urge to have sex. It creates a dialogue among and about the rapidly emerging group of individuals who identify themselves as asexual.

The communications strategy was devised last week after meetings between leading members of the group. One of the first tasks will be to revamp its website.

The site will include a media contact section with short profiles of people willing to be interviewed, a section to encourage people to meet in their local area, and potentially an advice section for people who want to 'come out'.

Aven's most active member and US founder, David Jay, appeared on Channel 4's Richard and Judy last week and is in discussions with a journalist about producing a biography of his life.

Until recently the group's communications efforts have been minimal.

Karl Hodgetts, Aven's head of web development, said: "We must be one of the most media-shy visibility groups in the world. The coverage that stemmed from the New Scientist article was much more than we had anticipated."

The group would like to become a UK charity in the future, but is not sure where it would get funding from.

The subject of asexuality featured in most national newspapers in mid-October after the New Scientist article drew attention to the finding that 3 per cent of 18,000 people polled in the UK had no desire for sex.

Aven conservatively places the worldwide figure at 1 per cent.

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