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.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), HIV & hepatitis C: What you need to know

CATIE (Canada), 17 March 2020

  • An HIV-positive person on effective treatment is not expected to be at higher risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19
  • A person with untreated HIV or a low CD4+ cell count may be at higher risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19
  • People with HIV or hepatitis C are more likely to have other conditions that carry a greater risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19

 

 

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

In contrast to Australia’s success with hepatitis C, our response to hepatitis B is lagging

The Conversation, October 15th, 2019

Around one-third of Australians living with hepatitis C have been cured in the last four years. Australia’s response to hepatitis C is seen as a leading example around the world, and the elimination of the disease as a major public health threat is looking like an increasingly achievable goal.

But the situation is much less promising for Australians living with hepatitis B, which is now the most common blood-borne viral infection in Australia. It affects more people than hepatitis C and HIV combined.

STI and BBV control in remote communities: Clinical practice and resource manual

SAHMRI / Young Deadly Free, 2019

This manual was developed by SAHMRI as part of the Young Deadly Free project, to support clinicians in efforts to boost STI and BBV testing rates for young people living in and visiting remote communities.

The manual provides tips on offering STI and BBV testing as part of routine consults with young people; collates the various STI and BBV clinical guidelines relevant to regional and remote communities; catalogues induction and training resources; and features Young Deadly Free health promotion resources for use in community education. The manual is designed as an induction and training kit, and for daily use by doctors, nurses and Aboriginal Health Workers.