LGBTQ Online Forum: COVID-19 & Our Communities

ACON, April 2020

When: Monday 6 April 2020, 3pm-4.30pm (Virtual Event via Zoom)

ACON will be hosting a live online information session to explore coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on sexuality and gender diverse communities on Monday 6 April 3pm – 4.30pm.

The forum will include experts from community, public health and medicine, who will talk through issues, answer questions and provide better clarity, so that we can work together to confront this crisis.

Guest speakers:
– Professor Andrew Grulich, Professor HIV Epidemiology and Prevention Program, The Kirby Institute, UNSW
– Jane Costello, CEO, Positive Life NSW
– Dr Justin Koonin, President, ACON
– Dr Brad McKay, General Practitioner

More speakers to be announced

Facilitated by: Maeve Marsden, Writer, Performer, Producer and Director

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 (COVID-19) campaign resources aimed at the general public.

 Commonwealth of Australia Department of Health,  last updated19 March 2020

If you have clients, patients, or colleagues with whom you need to share information about 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the federal Department of Health has created these resources.

The national COVID-19 campaign aims to reduce the risk to Australians by helping them to:

  • make informed decisions
  • take up health recommendations

These resources provide information and tips to help everyone be more prepared.

Resources are available in several languages.

 

 

Update on COVID-19 for PLHIV

SAMESH, March 19, 2020

SAMESH, SHINE SA, and Thorne Harbour Health are encouraging people living with HIV (PLHIV) to take additional precautions in the face of the changing landscape around 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

We want to ensure the ongoing health and wellbeing of all PLHIV who are more vulnerable to COVID-19. This means minimising the risk of exposure to the virus.

While everyone is at risk of contracting COVID-19, the consequences of infection are more severe for some vulnerable groups. This includes PLHIV who are:

  • Aged over 60 years old
  • Living with a detectable viral load or a CD4 count below 500
  • Diabetic
  • Smokers
  • Living with hepatitis B or C
  • Living with a comorbidity such as heart or lung issues

Those PLHIV on treatment with an undetectable viral load (and no other significant health condition) are at no greater risk of serious health consequences due to COVID-19 than the general population. That being said, they should still take the advice of the health department in exercising precautions such as handwashing, working from home where possible, limiting time on public transport, and avoiding large groups or crowded areas.

Those PLHIV who fall into one of the vulnerable groups listed above should limit contact with others to avoid potential exposure to COVID-19.

If you are living with HIV and are concerned you might be at risk, you should:

  • Maintain regularly scheduled medical appointments, but consider asking your doctor about telehealth consultations
  • Ensure you have between 1-3 month supply of any medications you currently take
  • Avoid stockpiling medications beyond a 1-3 month supply as this could cause unnecessary shortages
  • Be wary of advice or articles in social media — do not modify the medications you currently take without first consulting your doctor
  • Contact your doctor about getting vaccinations for influenza and pneumococcal when available
  • Keep in touch with friends, colleagues, and family via phone calls and video chat — consider scheduling regular catch ups
  • Stay in touch – our organisations will continue to release more information and resources as the situation continues to evolve

This public health issue can be stressful, but our communities have a long history of staying informed and collective action to ensure we look after our health as well as the wellbeing of those around us. Let’s keep this legacy going as we look after ourselves and those around us

We won’t eradicate FGM if we keep misunderstanding its history (Opinion)

by Sada Mire, The Guardian, Mon 9 Mar 2020

A simple way to promote HPV vaccination among Asian American women: Storytelling

The Conversation, March 4, 2020 10.58pm AEDT

Why do so many Asian Americans and Pacific Islander women know so little about HPV? We set out to answer this question by interviewing  ethnic groups and conducting surveys.

Our findings suggest their knowledge and attitudes toward HPV prevention are closely tied to health beliefs and cultural or language barriers. What’s more, we discovered preventive health care is not a top priority for immigrant populations. In general, they seek treatment only when already sick. Our studies also suggest many of them are skeptical about participating in research.

We discovered in our study that narrative storytelling – that is, mothers and their children sharing their experiences and having conversations about HPV vaccination – can increase HPV vaccination rates.

From that, we’ve developed what we call a storytelling intervention for young Korean American women using a “peer-paired” approach. Because the storytellers are about the same age as the participants, a meaningful conversation is more likely to occur. The women are less shy about sharing their personal experiences, feelings and fears.