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.

Multiple factors explain why middle-aged heterosexuals with new sexual partners don’t use condoms

nam/aidsmap

New strategies and approaches are needed to address the sexual health needs of middle-aged heterosexuals starting new relationships, research published in Sexually Transmitted Infections suggests.

The UK study involved men and women aged between 40 and 59 years with, or considering, new sexual partners after the break-up of a long-term relationship. In-depth interviews showed that beliefs about sexual risk were frequently based on past rather than current circumstances and that individuals often felt that existing sexual health services were geared towards the needs of younger people.

Call for allies to step up with LGBTQ distress ‘worse than after postal survey’

Sydney Morning Herald, February 23, 2020

Four out of five LGBTQ+ people say they feel worse now than they did after the “yes” vote on same-sex marriage, describing the debate over religious discrimination as “Marriage Equality 2.0” because it is amplifying negative voices.

The findings are from the Make Love Louder report by Macquarie University researcher Shirleene Robinson.

It found three out of four LGBTQ+ Australians have personally experienced negativity or discrimination on the basis of their sexual or gender identity and one in four experience it on a daily basis. For transgender Australians, four out of five have experienced it, two out of five on a daily basis.

The research suggests 63 per cent of Australians support the LGBTQ+ community, but three out of four of these, dubbed allies, are “silent supporters”. Dr Robinson said it was important for allies to be vocal to “make love louder than hate”.

Meanwhile, separate research by mental health charity Headspace found most LGBTQ+ young people experience high or very high psychological distress.

 

 

Increased usage and confidence in antiretroviral PrEP for the prevention of HIV found in UNSW study

UNSW, December 2019

The number of gay and bisexual men using PrEP to prevent HIV infection has almost doubled in the last two years, according to the latest report from the PrEPARE Project.  

The national online survey of Australian gay and bisexual men found that 43% of gay and bisexual men had used the antiretroviral drug in 2019, up from 24% in 2017. This increase aligns with falling HIV infections among gay and bisexual men in many jurisdictions.

The PrEP users surveyed reported positive experiences of using the drug, with the majority reporting reduced concern about HIV and increased sexual pleasure as a result. They also reported fewer concerns about disclosing PrEP use to others.

  • Read the 2019 survey report by the Centre for Social Research in Health.

 

Psychosocial mediators of perceived stigma and suicidal ideation among transgender women

Kota, K.K., Salazar, L.F., Culbreth, R.E. et al. Psychosocial mediators of perceived stigma and suicidal ideation among transgender women. BMC Public Health 20125 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-8177-z

Abstract

Background

Transgender women (TGW) in the U.S. experience high rates of stigma, depression, and elevated rates of suicide. This study examined correlates of suicidal ideation and estimated the conditional indirect effects of perceived stigma and psychosocial mediators on suicidal ideation.

Methods

Using a cross-sectional study design, TGW (N = 92) were recruited through snowball sampling in Atlanta, Georgia. Structured interviews were conducted. Suicidal ideation was assessed by combining two variables that measured suicidal thoughts. Logistic regression models were performed to identify the potential risk and protective factors for suicidal ideation. We examined hypothesized psychosocial factors, including anxiety, depression, psychosocial impact of gender minority status, and substance use behaviors as potential mediators for the relationship between perceived stigma and suicidal ideation. All models were controlled for age, race, education, and homelessness.

Results

Suicidal ideation was reported by 33% (N = 30) of the study participants. In multivariable analysis, suicidal ideation was associated with sexual abuse (AOR = 3.17, 95% CI = 1.10–9.30), anxiety (AOR = 1.74, 95% CI = 1.10–2.73), family verbal abuse (AOR = 2.99, 95% CI = 1.10–8.40), stranger verbal abuse (AOR = 3.21, 95% CI = 1.02–10.08), and psychosocial impact of gender minority status (AOR = 3.42, 95% CI = 1.81–6.46). Partner support was found to be the protective factor for suicidal ideation (AOR = 0.34, 95% CI = 0.13–0.90). In the mediation analysis, the psychosocial impact of gender minority status mediated the relationship between perceived stigma and suicidal ideation. The estimated conditional indirect effect was 0.46, (95% CI = 0.12–1.11).

Conclusion

Interventions that aim to reduce suicidal behaviors among TGW should address stigma, psychosocial imfamilpact of gender minority status, and different forms of violence and abuse.

“I’m never having sex with anybody ever again”: what helps PLHIV get over these feelings

nam/aidsmap, 27 January 2020

For people living with HIV, sexual adjustment after diagnosis is affected by fears of transmitting the virus and of possible rejection by sexual partners, new qualitative research shows. Healthy sexual adjustment over time is facilitated by partner acceptance; peer, community and professional support; and up-to-date knowledge of HIV transmission, including U=U.

Barriers to healthy sexual adjustment include the persistence of undue fears of transmission and rejection long after diagnosis, which may result in avoiding sex or pairing it with drugs and alcohol. Based on these findings, Dr Ben Huntingdon and colleagues at the University of Sydney propose a new model of sexual adjustment to HIV, published in the BMC Infectious Diseases journal.

Thirty participants (19 male, 11 female) out of 45 PLWH who agreed to be contacted completed the interview and questionnaire as part of the study.