Thorne Harbour Health calls for community to stop having casual sex during COVID-19

Thorne Harbour Health – media release, 26 March 2020

For the first time in its four-decade history, Thorne Harbour Health is calling on communities to stop having casual sex in the face of 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Thorne Harbour Health, formerly the Victorian AIDS Council, is calling on LGBTI communities and people living with HIV to limit their risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Thorne Harbour Health CEO Simon Ruth said, “We’re faced by an unprecedented global health crisis. While COVID-19 is not a sexually transmitted infection, the close personal contact we have when during sex poses a serious risk of COVID-19 transmission. We need people to stop having casual sex at this stage.”

“But after four decades of sexual health promotion, we know abstinence isn’t a realistic strategy for most people. We need to look at ways we can minimise risk while maintain a healthy sex life.”

Last week, the organisation released an info sheet with strategies to minimise the risk of COVID-19 while having sex. Strategies included utilising sex tech, solo sexuality, and limiting your sexual activity to an exclusive sexual partner, commonly known as a ‘f*ck buddy’.

“You can reduce your risk by making your sexual network smaller. If you have a regular sexual partner, have a conversation about the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Provided both of you are limiting your risk by working from home and exercising physical distancing from others, you can greatly reduce you chance of COVID-19 transmission,” said Simon Ruth.

The organisation’s stance is not dissimilar from advice from the UK government. Earlier this week, chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries advised couples not cohabitating to consider testing their relationship by moving in together during the country’s lockdown.

Thorne Harbour Health CEO Simon Ruth released a video message today addressing sex & COVID-19 following last week’s message about physical distancing.

High-risk behaviors and their association with awareness of HIV status among participants of a prevention intervention

High-risk behaviors and their association with awareness of HIV status among participants of a large-scale prevention intervention in Athens, Greece.

Pavlopoulou, I.D., Dikalioti, S.K., Gountas, I. et al.

BMC Public Health 20, 105 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-8178-y

Abstract

Background

Aristotle was a seek-test-treat intervention during an outbreak of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection among people who inject drugs (PWID) in Athens, Greece that started in 2011. The aims of this analysis were: (1) to study changes of drug injection-related and sexual behaviors over the course of Aristotle; and (2) to compare the likelihood of risky behaviors among PWID who were aware and unaware of their HIV status.

Methods

Aristotle (2012–2013) involved five successive respondent-driven sampling rounds of approximately 1400 PWID each; eligible PWID could participate in multiple rounds. Participants were interviewed using a questionnaire, were tested for HIV, and were classified as HIV-positive aware of their status (AHS), HIV-positive unaware of their status (UHS), and HIV-negative. Piecewise linear generalized estimating equation models were used to regress repeatedly measured binary outcomes (high-risk behaviors) against covariates.

Results

Aristotle recruited 3320 PWID (84.5% males, median age 34.2 years). Overall, 7110 interviews and blood samples were collected. The proportion of HIV-positive first-time participants who were aware of their HIV infection increased from 21.8% in round A to 36.4% in the last round. The odds of dividing drugs at least half of the time in the past 12 months with a syringe someone else had already used fell from round A to B by 90% [Odds Ratio (OR) (95% Confidence Interval-CI): 0.10 (0.04, 0.23)] among AHS and by 63% among UHS [OR (95% CI): 0.37 (0.19, 0.72)]. This drop was significantly larger (p = 0.02) among AHS. There were also decreases in frequency of injection and in receptive syringe sharing in the past 12 months but they were not significantly different between AHS (66 and 47%, respectively) and UHS (63 and 33%, respectively). Condom use increased only among male AHS from round B to the last round [OR (95% CI): 1.24 (1.01, 1.52)].

Conclusions

The prevalence of risky behaviors related to drug injection decreased in the context of Aristotle. Knowledge of HIV infection was associated with safer drug injection-related behaviors among PWID. This highlights the need for comprehensive interventions that scale-up HIV testing and help PWID become aware of their HIV status.

Crystal Clear: Forum & Podcast Launch

SAMESH, 25/11/2019

Join our panel of researchers, health care workers, community members and psychologists as they delve into the issues of crystal use among gay men and men who have sex with men.

No photo description available.

Following the Crystal Pleasures study into methamphetamine use in gay men and men who have sex with men, CSRH has produced a series of podcasts discussing this issue at length from a variety of viewpoints, including interviews with people who use crystal, and health care professionals who work in these communities.

Panellists:
– Kerryn Drysdale – Research Fellow, Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW
– Dr. Carole Khaw – Consultant Sexual Health Physician, Adelaide Sexual Health Centre
– Travis Atkinson – SAMESH Peer Educator
– Jack O’Connor – Social Worker, Drug & Alcohol Services South Australia
– Gary Spence – Health Educator, Hepatitis SA

When: Monday 2nd December 2019, 6:30 PM

Where: SHINE SA, 57 Hyde Street, Adelaide

Cost: FREE

Striving towards the elimination of HCV infection among PWID

International Journal of Drug Policy, Volume 72,Pages 1-198 (October 2019)

Nearly 200 pages of open access articles from projects and research around the world.

While this special issue highlights some successful efforts towards HCV elimination among people who inject drugs, it also highlights the relative lack of attention to settings in which resources enabling elimination are scarce, and where elimination hopes and potentials are less clear, such as in many low and middle income countries. Strengthening capacity in areas of the world where resources are more limited will be a critical step towards ensuring equity for all so that global HCV elimination among PWID can be achieved.

  • Browse articles here
  • You can also download the full issue as PDF by creating an account and signing in at the above link

The Power of Words – Alcohol and Other Drug use

Alcohol & Drug Foundation, 2019

A resource for healthcare and other professionals

There’s power in language. By focusing on people, rather than their use of alcohol and other drugs, and by choosing words that are welcoming and inclusive, professionals working with people who use alcohol and other drugs can reduce the impact of stigma.

Stigma in the form of language and actions can make people who use, or have used alcohol and other drugs, feel unwelcome and unsafe. This can stop them from seeking the services they need, which can negatively impact their health, wellbeing, employment and social outcomes.

How to use this guide

The Power of Words contains evidence-based advice on using non-stigmatising language, and features an easy-to-navigate, colour-coded directory of alternative words and phrases to suit a range of common scenarios.

It’s important that consistent, appropriate language is used when speaking about alcohol and other drug use in all contexts, be it speaking directly to a client or through indirect communication to a broad audience.

Recognising this, the recommendations within Power of Words have been developed to be easily adopted by healthcare professionals as well as anyone working in management, people and culture, education, marketing, the media or social media.

The Power of Words has been produced by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, Association of Participating Service Users/Self Help Addiction Resource Centre (APSU/SHARC), Department of Health and Human Services, Harm Reduction Victoria and Penington Institute, following an extensive review of evidence-based literature as well as focus groups with people with lived experience and their families.

Evaluating the cost-effectiveness of existing needle and syringe programmes in preventing hepatitis C transmission in PWID

Drug and Alcohol Findings (UK), 2019

What would happen to rates of infection with hepatitis C if we closed down all the needle exchanges? Research has established that needle/syringe programmes are a cost-effective way to reduce spread of HIV, but just two studies have considered the same issue in relation to hepatitis C.

In three UK municipalities, the answers were predicted to be more infections, lost low-cost opportunities to improve and save lives, and in two of the areas, greater health-related costs overall. Conclusion was that these services are among the best investments UK health services can make.