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.

Impact of COVID-19 on Migrant and Refugee Women and Children Experiencing DFV

Women’s Safety NSW, Published: July 31, 2020

Whilst research on the prevalence of violence against migrant and refugee women is limited, what is known is that cultural, language and systemic barriers serve to reduce access to safety and support for this group of women, and they are at higher risk of domestic homicide. (AIC 2020)

This also corresponds with lower rates of reporting amongst migrant and refugee women experiencing domestic and family violence, as distrust for authorities, limited knowledge of rights and services and concerns about both material and cultural ramifications can serve as insurmountable barriers to accessing the supports needed. (AIFS 2018)

What has not yet been investigated is the specific impact of COVID-19 on migrant and refugee women experiencing domestic and family violence. This report from Women’s Safety NSW offers the experiences and professional observations of multicultural domestic and family violence specialists supporting hundreds of these very women at this critical time. What they’ve reported is that migrant and refugee women who are experiencing domestic and family violence are at higher risk than they have ever been before and that urgent action is needed if we are going to save lives.

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

Accessing pharmacotherapy (opioid replacement therapy) during COVID-19

Alcohol and Drug Foundation (Australia), April 27th 2020

There are now new challenges for people who access opioid replacement therapy (ORT) due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Many may be experiencing anxiety and fear due to COVID-19 and trying to reduce and mitigate these feelings is vital.

In most cases, people who are on ORT are required to visit their health clinic or pharmacy on a daily basis. This can be more difficult for people right now, due to restrictions on movement and the social distancing regulations imposed to curtail COVID-19.

 

Marie Stopes Australia seeks signatories to open letter re changes to telehealth

July 2020
 
There are changes to Telehealth from Monday, July 20th which mean that clients who have not attended a service within the last 12 months – that is, new clients or clients who have not used a service in the last 12 months – will no longer be eligible for a Telehealth appointment.
 
Marie Stopes Australia has written an open letter about the impact of this change access to sexual and reproductive health services. If you are interested in endorsing the letter, you can add your name as a private individual or an organisation. 
 

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.