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.

Let’s Celebrate Safer Sex this National Condom Day (SHINE SA Media Release)

SHINE SA, 11 February 2020

Forget Valentine’s Day, there’s a new romantic day occupying February 14: National Condom Day! With only 36% of young South Australians always using a condom during casual sex, it’s no surprise that STI rates are on the rise. Like an elusive Valentine’s partner, many STIs are hidden. Around 70% of people with chlamydia have no symptoms, going unnoticed while being transmitted to others.

So what could be more romantic than preventing the unintended consequences of unprotected sex? Show some romance by taking advantage of how easy it is to get your hands on a condom. Condoms are widely available, don’t require a prescription and can even be found for free at SHINE SA clinics. SHINE SA encourages all young people to take steps to engage in safer sex. This means always having a condom handy, making time for that discussion with your partner/s, ensuring you have informed and enthusiastic consent and getting regular sexual health checks either through a GP or at a SHINE SA clinic.

Natasha Miliotis SHINE SA’s Chief Executive said:

“National Condom Day is a great reminder to take control of our own sexual health. Through the use of condoms and regular testing, STIs are preventable.”

For more information on the sexual health of young people in South Australia see: www.sahmri.org/aboriginal-health-equity-theme/news-270/

Want to learn more about safer sex? To mark National Condom Day SHINE SA have released the Safer Sex – Use a Condom campaign. The campaign highlights the importance of condoms and the concepts of safety, pleasure and respect for a safer sex life. View the campaign here: www.shinesa.org.au/safersex

For further information and media enquiries see media release for contacts:

 

‘Lets Talk About It’: South Australian Sexual Health Survey Results 2019

SAHMRI & Flinders University,  4th October, 2019

A South Australian-first youth sexual health survey has provided a unique snapshot of the sexual behaviours and knowledge of the state’s young people. 

The head of SAHMRI’s Sexual Health and Wellbeing program, Associate Professor James Ward, says the results will help design policies, health services and education programs aimed at reducing sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV and viral hepatitis (BBVs).

 

 

Emergency contraception awareness in an at‐risk population

Hope, D. L., Hattingh, L. and King, M. A. (2019) J Pharm Pract Res. doi:10.1002/jppr.1554

Background

Consumer awareness of emergency contraception is generally poor. School leavers (schoolies) engage in risky behaviours, including casual sex and alcohol and drug consumption.

Aim

The aim of this study was to explore the awareness of an at‐risk population of schoolies regarding the use and availability of emergency contraception.

Methods

An electronic survey was self‐administered by participants using Wi‐Fi‐connected iPads at the Schoolies Wristband Distribution Centre, Surfers Paradise, on the first day of Queensland Schoolies Week, November 2017. Outcomes measured were awareness of the availability of emergency contraception from a pharmacy, maximum time for effective use following unprotected intercourse and whether emergency contraception is harmful to the health of the user.

Results

Schoolies completed 498 valid surveys. Most (83.5%) were aged 17 years and 50.8% were aware that emergency contraception is available from community pharmacies with prescription and 36.7% were aware that it is available without prescription; 18.5% were aware of the 72‐ or 120‐h effectiveness window and 38.0% agreed that it is not harmful. All questions were associated with considerable uncertainty. Females were 1.8‐ to 3.2‐fold more likely than males to provide an appropriate response to any emergency contraception statement.

Conclusion

Schoolies’ awareness of emergency contraception availability, effectiveness window and safety was low. At‐risk schoolies may not access emergency contraception when indicated due to fear of harm, uncertainty about its effectiveness window or a lack of knowledge about timely non‐prescription access from community pharmacies. Targeted education may improve current knowledge gaps. The misnomer ‘morning‐after pill’ should be abandoned for the clinically appropriate term ‘emergency contraception.

 

Giving gay men self-test kits increases HIV testing by 50% – but STI tests decrease

aidsmap/nam, 21 August 2018

Gay men who were offered HIV home-testing kits took 50% more tests than men who only took HIV tests at clinics or community organisations, a randomised controlled study from Seattle in the USA has found.

The men who could self-test took fewer tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), though it is not completely clear whether this was because they went less often for STI checkups or had fewer STI symptoms.