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.

 

Changes to Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) Distribution

SHINE SA,  

SHINE SA will now temporarily provide a full 28-day supply of Post-exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) medication in place of the usual five-day starter pack. This measure has been put in place with the assistance of SA Health to help limit movement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to the pandemic, clients received a five-day HIV PEP starter pack and then the remaining medication after a follow-up appointment. Clients can now call SHINE SA for a telehealth appointment where our team will guide clients through the process including supply of the medications and blood tests. Follow-up care arrangements will remain in place.

What is PEP?

PEP is a four week long course of medication taken to reduce the risk of HIV infection. It needs to be initiated within 72 hours of possible contact with HIV in order to help prevent the chance of infection. Exposure can occur through unprotected sex or the sharing of needles and other injection equipment.

It’s important that PEP is accessed as soon as possible after you think you may been exposed to HIV. If you are outside of the time-frame you can still contact your local GP or SHINE SA for further assistance.

What are the most common reasons for needing PEP?

  • Sex without a condom or sex where a condom broke or slipped off, with a person who has, or might have, HIV.
  • Sharing needles or syringes with a person who has, or might have, HIV.

How can I find out more?

  • The PEP Hotline is available 24 hours a day on 1800 022 026. The Registered Nurse on the PEP hotline will help assess your needs and indicate where to access PEP near you.
  • To speak to SHINE SA about accessing PEP call 8300 5300.
  • To learn more about PEP you can visit the SAMESH website or call 7099 5300.

From: https://www.shinesa.org.au/changes-to-pep/

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.