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.

Multilingual booklet in 8 languages – HIV: What you need to know

Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service, NSW, 2019

The new multilingual booklet, HIV. What you need to know, summarises the most current information on HIV.

It explains what it means to have HIV as well as ways to protect yourself from getting HIV and passing it on to others.

It also explains how to get tested, and how HIV is treated, including a comprehensive list of HIV health care and support services available in NSW.

Information about the Australian health care system, and HIV and legal issues are also provided.

Available in eight languages, the free booklet was developed in consultation with our communities.

  • Click on the language below to download the e-booklet
  • To order free hard copies of the  booklet please complete the order form and email to info@mhahs.org.au

 

English Arabic
Chinese Indonesian
Portuguese Spanish
Thai Vietnamese

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.

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

Lastest Gay Community Periodic Survey for Adelaide released

Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW, June 2019

Gay Community Periodic Survey: Adelaide 2018

Authors: Broady, T., Mao, L., Bavinton, B., Jeffries, D., Bartlett, S., Calabretto, H., Narciso, L., Prestage, G., & Holt.

The Adelaide Gay Community Periodic Survey is a cross-sectional survey of gay and homosexually active men recruited at a range of gay community sites in Adelaide, and online throughout South Australia. The major aim of the survey is to provide data on sexual, drug use, and testing practices related to the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmissible infections (STIs) among gay men. The most recent survey, the twelfth in South Australia, was conducted in November and December 2018 to coincide with the Adelaide Feast Festival.

Key points

– The proportion of men who reported ever having been tested for HIV increased from 83% in 2011 to 87% in 2018.

– The percentage of non-HIV-positive men who reported testing for HIV in the 12 months prior to the survey remained stable (and was reported by 71% in 2018), although the percentage reporting three or more HIV tests in the previous year increased (from 11% in 2014 to 22% in 2018).

– The use of HIV treatment by HIV-positive men has remained stable over time (and was reported by 93% of HIV-positive men in 2018). The percentage of men on antiretroviral treatment who reported an undetectable viral load also remained stable (reported by 94% in 2018).

Mobile phone apps remained the most common way that men met male sex partners, reported by 44% in 2018.

– The proportion of men with regular male partners reporting condomless anal intercourse with those partners (CAIR) increased from 55% in 2011 to 65% in 2018.

– The proportion of men with casual male partners reporting condomless anal intercourse with those partners (CAIC) increased from 38% in 2011 to 51% in 2018.

– Most of the recent increase in CAIC appears to be attributable to the growing proportion of HIV-negative men using pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

STI testing among HIV-negative men has remained stable over time, with 74% reporting any STI test in the year prior to the 2018 survey. The proportion of HIV-positive men reporting any STI test in the previous year decreased from 91% in 2011 to 72% in 2018.

Use of PrEP increased between 2014 and 2018 from 1% to 16% of non-HIV-positive men.

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.