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.

Can you get gonorrhoea from kissing?

ABC Radio (Hack), 8th November 2017

In a troubling development, Melbourne researchers suspect gonorrhoea is being spread by kissing, overturning years of conventional wisdom.

Although it’s early days and not cause for alarm, there is evidence to suggest ‘throat-to-throat transmission’ may be driving the spread of gonorrhea in inner-city Australia.

It’s been generally understood you could only get gonorrhea by having vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who has gonorrhea. Dr Vincent J Cornelisse, a sexual health physician and PhD candidate at Monash University, has been conducting research that challenges this idea.

Professor Basil Donovan, head of the Sexual Health Program at the Kirby Institute, told Hack the finding was “highly tenuous”. “You’ll need a lot more science before you put out a warning,” he said.

 

Hepatitis A in MSM

SA Health / SHINE SA, October 2017

An increase in the number of notifications of hepatitis A has been reported in New South Wales amongst men who have sex with men (MSM). It is suspected that these infections are associated with a recent outbreak overseas amongst MSM in Europe and the Americas.

Key prevention messages:

  • Vaccination is the most effective form of prevention against hepatitis A infection. To receive the vaccine, contact your health care provider to arrange an appointment.
  • Follow good personal hygiene practices, especially thorough hand washing and safe sexual practices.
  • People with hepatitis A are excluded from work for 7 days after the onset of jaundice (if present) or 2 weeks from the onset of illness.

A factsheet and 2 videos of different lengths have been developed.

Dr Alison Ward, Senior Consultant Sexual Health Physician, Head of Unit, STD Services, Clinic 275 (RAH), discusses the importance of vaccination against Hepatitis A for men who have sex with men (MSM) (3:08 Minutes)

Dr Alison Ward, Senior Consultant Sexual Health Physician, Head of Unit, STD Services, Clinic 275 (RAH), discusses the importance of vaccination against Hepatitis A for men who have sex with men (MSM) (47 seconds)

New Hepatitis A factsheet from SA health

Department for Health and Ageing, Government of South Australia, September 2017

An increase in the number of notifications of hepatitis A has been reported in New South Wales amongst men who have sex with men (MSM). It is suspected that these infections are associated with a recent outbreak overseas amongst MSM in Europe and the Americas.

Key prevention messages:

  • Vaccination is the most effective form of prevention against hepatitis A infection. To receive the vaccine, contact your health care provider to arrange an appointment.
  • Follow good personal hygiene practices, especially thorough hand washing and safe sexual practices.
  • People with hepatitis A are excluded from work for 7 days after the onset of jaundice (if present) or 2 weeks from the onset of illness.

Download factsheet (PDF):  FactSheet – Hepatitis A MSM