Situational Report: Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights in Australia

Marie Stopes Australia, Updated 17 April 2020

Situational Report: Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights in Australia – A request for collaboration and action to maintain contraceptive and abortion care throughout the SARS-COV-2 / COVID-19 pandemic

Executive Summary

We are in a context of increased risk of unplanned pregnancy, reproductive coercion, sexually transmitted infections, lack of pregnancy options and a multitude of barriers to healthcare. Access to contraception and abortion throughout the pandemic will mitigate broader public health risks for years to come. 
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At Marie Stopes Australia, during the pandemic we have had to:

 Cancel surgical abortion care lists- meaning women and pregnant people have had to continue with their pregnancies or are likely to seek a termination at a later gestation
 Reduce our national gestational limit for surgical abortion to 22 weeks
 Face increased costs in the provision of regional healthcare, having no other option than to charter private flights for clinical staff
 Continuously scramble for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
 Reduce in-clinic list capacity to enable physical distancing
 Reduce contraceptive services in order to prioritise abortion access
 Reduce financial support for clients experiencing financial hardship
 Face increased risk of staff fatigue and burn out
 Evolve models of care in an effort to maintain access to care. To address this situation, we need to review legislation and policy, evolve models of care, maintain people’s rights to access care and make healthcare more affordable.

Key recommendations at this point in the pandemic include:
 All Governments, health and hospital services, and health clinics must consider abortion an essential service with Category 1 classification
 Provide access to medical abortion via telehealth for people living in South Australia
 Increase medical abortion provision to 70 days/10 weeks gestation, supported by the  Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
 All accredited sexual and reproductive healthcare providers should have access to the National Medical Stockpile for PPE
 Intrastate travel support is needed for clinical staff in order to maintain surgical abortion provision in regional and remote clinics
 Do not criminalise women and pregnant people who attempt unsafe abortion

[This report contains] further detail on these points and a longer list of recommendations that Australia will need to consider in o order to maintain sexual and reproductive health
rights throughout the pandemic.

 

 

New COVID Taskforce website from ASHM

ASHM, UPDATED ON: 14 April 2020

ASHM’s Taskforce on BBVs, Sexual Health and COVID-19 was established on 20 March 2020. It provides a timely opportunity for the BBV and sexual health sectors to discuss the scientific, clinical, BBV and sexual health service delivery and social implications of COVID-19, and provides consistent and evidence-based messaging to the health workforce, sector partners and community.

The website contains interim recommendations on:

  • adults living with HIV
  • adults living with chronic hepatitis B.
  • adults living with hepatitis C, or the complications of previous hepatitis C infection
  • people who are incarcerated in criminal justice settings during the COVID-19 pandemic including those who are living with HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

 

Press release: We Must Do Better for Our Trans and Gender Diverse Children and Young People

South Australia’s first Commissioner for Children and Young People, 4th November 2019

Commissioner for Children and Young People Helen Connolly says that South  Australia’s trans and gender diverse children and young people have told her they want their health care needs to be a  priority for the Government. 

Our jurisdictions around Australia already deliver models of care that cater to the specific needs of trans and gender diverse children and young people, however South Australia is lagging behind with children and young people, and their families consistently report that access and support is ‘ad hoc’.

The findings have come out of the First Port of Call report released by the Commissioner. On advice received from trans and gender diverse children and young
people, four distinct priority areas, requiring immediate attention, have been identified in the report.

 

MSM in London diagnosed with early syphilis are a priority group for PrEP

nam/aidsmap, 16 October 2017

Gay and other men who have sex with men (MSM) recently diagnosed with early syphilis are a priority group for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), results of a study published in Sexually Transmitted Infections suggest.

Over two years of follow-up, 11% of men diagnosed with early syphilis subsequently became infected with HIV. Incidence of rectal sexually transmitted infections and syphilis re-infection was also high.

“Our study highlights early syphilis as a risk factor for HIV acquisition in MSM,” write the investigators. “Intensive risk reduction and PrEP would be beneficial for HIV-negative MSM with early syphilis by reducing their risk of HIV acquisition.”

PEP after Non-Occupational and Occupational Exposure to HIV: Australian Guidelines revised

Our apologies to those who tried to access SASHA while it was down. The technical difficulties have now been resolved.

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Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine, August 2016

The Second edition of the Post-Exposure Prophylaxis after Non-Occupational and Occupational Exposure to HIV: Australian National Guidelines is now available.

These guidelines outline the management of individuals who have been exposed (or suspect they have been exposed) to HIV in non-occupational and occupational settings.

There are currently no data from randomised controlled trials of the use of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and evidence for use has been extrapolated from animal data, mother to child transmission, occupational exposure and small prospective studies of PEP regimens in HIV-negative men. Accordingly, assumptions are made about the direction of management.

Every presentation for PEP should be assessed on a case-by-case basis, balancing the potential harms and benefits of treatment.

Recommendations following non-occupational exposure have been updated, and information about PEP in the context of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), PEP and children, renal disease, and gender identity and history has been added.

  • Download the revised guidelines (PDF) here
  • Updates to the supplementary documents, as well as a navigable website for the guidelines, will soon be available. At present, the 2013 literature review and checklist are still available, linked below:

    PEP Checklist (2013)

    Literature Review (2013)

 

Royal Commission into Family Violence releases releases 227 recommendations

The Royal Commission into Family Violence report was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, 30 March 2016.

On Sunday, 22 February 2015, the Governor of Victoria appointed a Chair and two Deputy Commissioners to the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

As specified in its terms of reference, the Commission’s task was to identify the most effective ways to:
– prevent family violence
– improve early intervention so as to identify and protect those at risk
– support victims—particularly women and children—and address the impacts of violence on them
– make perpetrators accountable
– develop and refine systemic responses to family violence—including in the legal system and by police, corrections, child protection, legal and family violence support services
– better coordinate community and government responses to family violence
– evaluate and measure the success of strategies, frameworks, policies, programs and services introduced to put a stop family violence.

The Commission was asked to make practical recommendations to achieve these outcomes.

2227 recommendations were made.

Download report and recommendations (PDF) here