Disparities in characteristics in accessing public Australian sexual health services between Medicare‐eligible and Medicare‐ineligible MSM

Disparities in characteristics in accessing public Australian sexual health services between Medicare‐eligible and Medicare‐ineligible men who have sex with men

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health

Anysha M. Walia, Christopher K. Fairley, Catriona S. Bradshaw, Marcus Y. Chen, Eric P.F. Chow

First published: 31 August 2020
https://doi.org/10.1111/1753-6405.13029
Abstract:

Objectives: Accessible health services are a key element of effective human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and sexually transmitted infection (STI) control. This study aimed to examine whether there were any differences in accessing sexual health services between Medicare‐eligible and Medicare‐ineligible men who have sex with men (MSM) in Melbourne, Australia.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective, cross‐sectional study of MSM attending Melbourne Sexual Health Centre between 2016 and 2019. Demographic characteristics, sexual practices, HIV testing practices and STI diagnoses were compared between Medicare‐eligible and Medicare‐ineligible MSM.

Results: We included 5,085 Medicare‐eligible and 2,786 Medicare‐ineligible MSM. Condomless anal sex in the past 12 months was more common in Medicare‐eligible compared to Medicare‐ineligible MSM (74.4% vs. 64.9%; p<0.001) although the number of partners did not differ between groups. There was no difference in prior HIV testing practices between Medicare‐eligible and Medicare‐ineligible MSM (76.1% vs. 77.7%; p=0.122). Medicare‐ineligible MSM were more likely to have anorectal chlamydia compared to Medicare‐eligible MSM (10.6% vs. 8.5%; p=0.004).

Conclusions: Medicare‐ineligible MSM have less condomless sex but a higher rate of anorectal chlamydia, suggesting they might have limited access to STI testing or may be less willing to disclose high‐risk behaviour.

Implications for public health: Scaling up access to HIV and STI testings for Medicare‐ineligible MSM is essential.

People identifying as LGBTIQ and alcohol, tobacco & other drugs in Australia

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, last updated

Key Findings:

  • People identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual have relatively high rates of substance use. However, there is a lack of comprehensive data available on the associated harms for this population group.
  • Almost one in 5 (18.7%) people identifying as homosexual or bisexual reported daily tobacco smoking in 2016, comapred with 12% of heterosexual people.
  • Over a quarter (25.8%) of people identifying as homosexual or bisexual reported drinking at levels exceeding lifetime risk guidelines in 2016, compared with 17.2% of heterosexual people.
  • In 2016, 42% of people identifying as homosexual or bisexual reported drinking at levels exceeding single occasion risk guidelines, compared with 26% of heterosexual people.
  • In 2016, 41.7% of people identifying as homosexual or bisexual recently used any illicit drug, compared with 14.5% of heterosexual people.

More information is available in the People identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or queer (LGBTIQ) fact sheet (PDF)

Asian, Gay & COVID-19 (Free online event)

 Gay Asian Proud & Thorne Harbour Health, July 2020

A live online chat with James & Amirul – sharing their lived experience as same-sex attracted guys with Asian backgrounds.

Date And Time:

Thu, 6 August 2020, 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM ACST

Living Room Sharing Session:

Join Gay Asian Proud (GAP) coordinators James and Amirul in this casual, friendly and insightful conversation about being gay, Asian, moving away from home and living in the midst of COVID-19 restrictions.

Listen to them share their experiences about living in Australia, overcoming challenges as a migrant and international student, maintaining emotional and mental well-being during the COVID-19 lockdown.

This session welcomes all of the LGBTIQ+ community and their allies. Attendees will be able to ask questions during the online chat which James & Amirul will endeavour to answer in a live Q & A after the session.

Meet the guys:

Amirul (or Rul for short) is a proud GAY-sian guy, born and raised in Sunny Singapore and has been living in Melbourne, Australia for almost 8 years. He first arrived in Australia back in 2012 as an international student and calls Melbourne home for now. Originally starting out as a member, he is now one of the volunteer facilitators for the social support group, Gay Asian Proud,

James is a migrant from Singapore and a former international student who has been living in Australia for more than 10 years. He is a Thorne Harbour Health peer education facilitator, and a Community Reference Group member at the Victorian Pride Centre. He writes “The Well-Fed Nomad”, a Facebook food blog about his cooking and eating experiences around the world. His passion for arts and culture has brought him to Asia and Europe to participate in cross-cultural leadership and international collaboration programs.

Flux Study COVID-19 Diary Recruitment and Report

Kirby Institute, UNSW, July 2020

Social distancing restrictions due to COVID-19 may affect how gay and bisexual men are arranging their sex lives and taking care of their health. And this will likely also affect trends in HIV infection and STIs over coming months, or even years. Monitoring the impact of COVID-19, before, during, and after the pandemic, is essential to understanding and responding to trends in HIV infection, mental health, and STIs.

​This study investigating the lived experiences of COVID-19 among gay and bisexual men including isolation, support, mental health and resilience, income loss, and access to health services. We will address how gay and bisexual men experience, engage with, and emerge from, COVID-19.

What does participation in this research require? 

If you decide to take part in this study, we will ask you to do the following:

  1. Your first questionnaire: This questionnaire collects information about you and your previous experiences.

  2. Weekly diary: After completing the your first survey, you will be asked to complete a 5-minute diary each Sunday.

What’s in it for you? 

We value our participants! To show our appreciation, for every survey you complete, you’ll automatically go in a raffle to win prizes in the form of gift cards to the value of $200.

Links

Tickets to the LGBTI Family Violence Forum available now (free online events)

Thorne Harbour Health, 22nd July 2020

Effecting Change and Accountability: Family Violence Interventions for LGBTI Communities: Monday 10th to Friday 14th August 2020

Since the release of Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence recommendations in 2016, LGBTI family violence service providers and mainstream family violence services who are attaining rainbow tick accreditation have worked more deliberately to develop and sustain inclusive and informed responses to LGBTI people using or experiencing family violence.

This annual community-led forum offers a platform to LGBTI community organisations and allied organisations to present their work, share knowledge, skills and look at service areas that need further development. This forum will provide information, presentations, interactive workshops and networking opportunities for service providers and other professionals about family violence in LGBTI communities.

We invite practitioners and community advocates from family violence sector and LGBTI community sectors, allied health sector practitioners, policy writers, victim survivor advocates, community organisers and people who are committed to the work to end family violence and break down LGBTI stigma and discrimination, increase community connectedness, improve community awareness of the needs of LGBTI communities, as well as striving to remove barriers to LGBTI inclusion, celebration, and embracing diversity.

Tickets available now: 

LGBTIQA+ Affirming Religious Communities in South Australia

Centacare, July 2020

The Centacare Rainbow Quality Team would like to provide you with a list of affirming religious communities (please see attachment via link below) that may be helpful for some people from the LGBTIQA+ community that you work with. 

Spiritual wellbeing is a human right, but unfortunately people within the Rainbow community who hold particular Christian faiths are not always awarded this human right within their own faith denominations.  In response to this need, the Centacare Rainbow Quality Team have worked on identifying religious communities within South Australia who are not just welcoming of people from the LGBTIQA+ community, but are affirming of them.

They have contacted individually the communities listed and have secured permission from them to be added to the list.  They have also identified individuals within each community that can be used as an entry point for people who wish to connect with these affirming communities.

The Team acknowledge that this is not an exhaustive list of affirming communities, and there may be others that they do not know of.  If you have additional contacts that you feel would be beneficial for this list, please let them know.  Also, if you have someone in need whom does not have a denomination listed, please let them know and they will endeavour to source a suitable community if available.  At this stage they have only identified Christian faith communities, but they do recognise that spiritual need extends well beyond this faith.  However, to date the contacts on this list is all that they have been able to identify, and they will continue to source affirming communities from other faith traditions. They can be contacted via the www.centacare.org.au/contact  website for any feedback or additional information.

Whilst the Team have gone to significant lengths to ensure the groundwork has been done to create a warm and welcoming entry into these affirming communities, they would also like to point out that they have no formal links with these communities and therefore cannot guarantee that all people will receive the support that they are looking for.  They also cannot offer support to maintain connection within these communities.

It is envisaged that this list will act as a guide for those seeking a supportive and affirming connection with a religious community that aligns with their spiritual beliefs and needs. The Centacare Rainbow Quality Team hope this list will assist you to support those with this particular need.