Updated Guidelines: Australian STI & HIV Testing Guidelines 2019 for Asymptomatic MSM

Sexually Transmissible Infections in Gay Men Action Group (STIGMA), September 2019

Most sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are asymptomatic. Testing and treatment of asymptomatic men who have sex with men (MSM) is the most effective method to interrupt transmission and reduce the burden of illness. In particular, syphilis is increasingly common, is often asymptomatic, and can cause significant morbidity.

The main barriers to STI control are insufficient frequency of testing in MSM, and incomplete testing. For example, chlamydia and gonorrhoea tests should be performed at all three sites (swab of oropharynx and anorectum, and first
pass urine), and syphilis serology should be performed every time a HIV test or HIV treatment monitoring is performed.

HIV is now a medically preventable infection. All men who are eligible under the Australian HIV Pre-Exposure guidelines should be actively offered PrEP: www.ashm.org.au/HIV/PrEP All people with HIV should be advised to commence treatment and, where possible, have an undetectable viral load.
These guidelines are intended for all MSM, including trans men who have sex with other men .

This current version is endorsed by the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, and Sexual Health Medicine, Australasian Sexual Health Alliance, Australasian Chapter of Sexual Health Medicine of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and is approved as an accepted clinical resource by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

Report: 6th National Survey of Australian Secondary Students and Sexual Health

Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS), 2019

The Secondary Students and Adolescent Sexual Health survey is a national study exploring the sexual health and well-being of Australian adolescents. The anonymous survey asks questions about knowledge, behaviour and educational experiences related to sexual health and well-being.

The Commonwealth Department of Health funded study has been conducted approximately every 5 years since 1992. This is the 6th time the survey has been conducted in Australia. Results play a vital role in safeguarding the nation’s health by informing the national strategies to prevent HIV, sexually transmissible infections and blood-borne viruses as well as providing valuable information to improve service provision and education across multiple sectors.

UNESCO paper busts myths about comprehensive sexuality education

UNESCO, 2019

Comprehensive sexuality education is an essential part of a good quality education that improves sexual and reproductive health, argues Facing the Facts, a new policy paper by the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report at UNESCO that seeks to dispel social and political resistance to sexuality education in many countries.

Globally, each year, 15 million girls marry before the age of 18, some 16 million 15-19 year olds and one million girls under 15 give birth. Young people moreover account for a third of new HIV infections among adults and across 37 low and middle-income countries, yet only approximately one third of people aged 15-24 years have comprehensive knowledge of HIV prevention and transmission.

Increased screening for syphilis and HIV in SA – new advice for clinicians (video)

SHINE SA,  

SHINE SA have released a short video resource for health professionals providing advice on the current syphilis outbreak in South Australia.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It presents a serious public health issue as it causes harm to the developing foetus and increases the transmission and acquisition of HIV.

The 5 minute video SA Syphilis Outbreak – Advice for Clinicians urges health professionals to be aware that syphilis is increasing rapidly in SA and that there is a need to respond with increased screening.

Risk of HIV transmission through condomless sex in serodifferent gay couples with the HIV-positive partner taking suppressive antiretroviral therapy (PARTNER)

Risk of HIV transmission through condomless sex in serodifferent gay couples with the HIV-positive partner taking suppressive antiretroviral therapy (PARTNER): final results of a multicentre, prospective, observational study

The Lancet, Published Online May 2, 2019

Background

The level of evidence for HIV transmission risk through condomless sex in serodifferent gay couples with the HIV-positive partner taking virally suppressive antiretroviral therapy (ART) is limited compared with the evidence available for transmission risk in heterosexual couples. The aim of the second phase of the PARTNER study (PARTNER2) was to provide precise estimates of transmission risk in gay serodifferent partnerships.
Findings
Between Sept 15, 2010, and July 31, 2017, 972 gay couples were enrolled, of which 782 provided 1593 eligible couple-years of follow-up with a median follow-up of 2·0 years (IQR 1·1–3·5). At baseline, median age for HIV-positive partners was 40 years (IQR 33–46) and couples reported condomless sex for a median of 1·0 years (IQR 0·4–2·9). During eligible couple-years of follow-up, couples reported condomless anal sex a total of 76 088 times. 288 (37%) of 777 HIV-negative men reported condomless sex with other partners. 15 new HIV infections occurred during eligible couple-years of follow-up, but none were phylogenetically linked within-couple transmissions, resulting in an HIV transmission rate of zero (upper 95% CI 0·23 per 100 couple-years of follow-up).

Interpretation

Our results provide a similar level of evidence on viral suppression and HIV transmission risk for gay men to that previously generated for heterosexual couples and suggest that the risk of HIV transmission in gay couples through condomless sex when HIV viral load is suppressed is effectively zero. Our findings support the message of the U=U (undetectable equals untransmittable) campaign, and the benefits of early testing and treatment for HIV.

 

Healthcare providers should discuss U=U with all their HIV-positive patients

aidsmap/nam, 18/03/2019

Healthcare providers should inform all patients with HIV they cannot transmit HIV to a sexual partner when their viral load is undetectable, argue the authors of  a strongly worded comment in The Lancet HIV.

The authors note that despite overwhelming scientific data supporting the undetectable = untransmittable (U=U) message, significant numbers of healthcare providers do not educate their patients about U=U when telling them their viral load is undetectable.