Stigma towards people who inject drugs and sex workers prevalent, according to new Australian study

Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW, July 2020

Priority groups at risk of blood borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections are still likely to experience negative behaviour from the general public and in healthcare settings according to a recent report from the Stigma Indicators Monitoring Project.

86% of the general public sampled self-reported that they would behave negatively towards people who inject drugs to some extent, as did 56% of healthcare workers and 55% of healthcare students. Additionally, 64% of the general public, and 36% and 31% of healthcare workers and students respectively, self-reported likely negative behaviour (to some extent) towards sex workers.

 

 

COVID-19 and Harm Reduction Programme Implementation: Sharing Experiences in Practice (Webinar)

Médecins du Monde Harm Reduction, April 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound effect on the provision of health services across the globe and is further magnifying the existing barriers faced by people who use drugs in accessing harm reduction services. Programmes have had to adapt, and efforts are being made to enhance accessibility and ensure the continuity of harm reduction services in a context that is changing daily.

But what does this look like in reality, and what practical measures can be put in place to ensure that people who use drugs continue to have access to the services and support that they need?

The aim of this webinar is to facilitate an interactive discussion and share experiences on how to maintain and adapt harm reduction services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speakers will discuss:

• The impact of COVID-19 on the lives of people who use drugs and their use of services

• Community mobilisation and advocacy by people who use drugs

• Examples of how harm reduction programmes such as OST and NSP are continued in some countries

Organisers: Médecins du Monde, International Network of People Who Use Drugs, Harm Reduction International, European Network of People Who Use Drugs, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Health Organization.

COVID-19 and viral hepatitis FAQs  in English, Korean, Chinese

Hepatitis NSW, May 2020

Since the COVID-19 virus is so new and can be life threatening, there are many unknown factors at play. This is even more so for people with pre-existing health conditions to consider. To help address those concerns and to answer the frequently asked questions, Hepatitis NSW has now compiled a number of online resources. 

All pages are based on the most up to date information and will be updated frequently.

 

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