Sexual and reproductive health a COVID-19 priority (Statement)

Burnet Institute, 28 May, 2020

Burnet Institute is a member of a consortium of Australian-based non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and academic institutes concerned about the detrimental effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls globally.

The International Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Consortium, which includes Save the Children, Family Planning NSW, CARE Australia, The Nossal Institute for Global Health, and Médecins Sans Frontières Australia, is calling on the Australian Government to prioritise the needs of women and girls in its response to COVID-19.

Collectively, the consortium works across 160 countries to champion universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.

It’s concerned that women and girls across the globe are struggling to access critical sexual and reproductive health care, citing evidence that COVID-19 lockdowns are likely to cause millions of unplanned pregnancies.

In the Pacific, travel to rural and remote areas have been curtailed, and physical distancing requirements have forced the cancellation of most group training on sexual and reproductive rights.

A recent UNFPA report determined that a six-month lockdown could mean 47 million women and girls globally cannot access contraception, and seven million will become pregnant.

The consortium has issued a joint statement setting out priorities to ensure Australia’s global response to COVID-19 meets the critical needs of all women and girls, including:

  • Recognise and respond to the gendered impacts of the pandemic, and the increased risk to women and girls from gender-based violence and other harmful practices
  • Improve the supply of contraceptives and menstrual health products which are being impacted by the strain and disruption on global supply chains
  • Increase flexibility in delivering sexual and reproductive health services during lockdown using innovative health delivery models such as task-sharing, tele-health and pharmacy distribution
  • Support sexual and reproductive health workers and clinics to continue delivering services sagely with access to personal protective equipment as well as training on how to refer, test or diagnose COVID-19.

 

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.

 

Newly available: WHO HIV PrEP Implementation Tool Mobile App

World Health Organization, August 1, 2018

The WHO PrEP Implementation Tool App for Health Workers App is now available.

On-the-go access to the following modules from the WHO PrEP Implementation Tool:

  • Clinical: for clinicians, including physicians, nurses and clinical officers
  • Counsellors: for staff who counsel people as they consider or start taking PrEP, and support them in coping with side effects and adherence strategies
  • Pharmacists: for pharmacists and people working in pharmacies; to provide information on the medicines used in PrEP as well as storage conditions
  • Testing providers: for people who provide testing services at PrEP sites and laboratories
  • PrEP users: for people taking PrEP and people interested in taking PrEP to reduce their risk of acquiring HIV; to support them in their choice and use of PrEP.

For more information and to download app, click here 

You can also visit these two websites:

HIV PrEP available on PBS in Australia from 1 April / Links to Clinical Resources

Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), 21 March 2018

ASHM congratulates the Federal Health Minister, the Hon. Greg Hunt’s announcement of a landmark in HIV prevention to approve HIV-prevention drugs – tenofovir with emtricitabine, known as PrEP – on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from 1 April, thereby providing broader access for any doctor or general practitioner to be able prescribe PrEP to an Australian resident who holds a current Medicare card.

“The public health benefits are clear, undeniable and transformative benefiting individuals at medium- to high-risk of HIV infection and towards driving a substantial reduction in HIV transmissions in Australia,” said ASHM President, Associate Professor Bloch.

Access Links to Clinical Resources supporting the HIV workforce

  • The definitions of risk for HIV, guidelines and procedures for the appropriate administration and monitoring of PrEP can be found here: ASHM HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis: clinical guidelines
  • The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and ASHM have produced a PrEP Fact Sheet to assist PrEP users and people with an interest in using PrEP to understand what subsidised access to PrEP through the PBS means. Access the factsheet here
  • ASHM continues to support the workforce to ensure access to PrEP and best practice in guidelines, training and resources. Access information here
  • The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia has a range of training to support pharmacists in preparing for PrEP on the PBS: www.psa.org.au

 

Healthcare workers living with HIV have different motivations for disclosing/concealing their status

nam/aidsmap, 10 November 2017

Nurses and other healthcare workers who are living with HIV have mixed reactions when they mention their HIV status to colleagues, according to a small Dutch study reported in the November/December issue of the Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care. 

Some healthcare workers disclosed because they expected a positive reaction or they felt the need to share a secret. Others concealed their HIV status because they feared a negative reaction or did not believe that disclosure was relevant or necessary.

The barriers to medical abortion [in Australia]

Australian Journal of Pharmacy,  08/06/2017

Australian women are choosing medical abortion less often than international peers because there are barriers to access, argue two experts.

in countries where mifepristone has been available for some time, about half of women seeking to terminate a pregnancy choose it over surgical termination. Access in Australia is relatively recent, and at this stage only about a third of women seeking abortion choose the medical route.