‘People are scared’: the fight against a deadly virus no one has heard of

Guardian Australia, Tue 24 Apr 2018 

An Aboriginal woman – we’ll call her B – is sitting in a dry creek bed outside her community and telling the world “this is a very bad disease. But we have to talk in a way not to shame people. Not telling them straight out. Telling them gently and quietly.”

B is talking about a sickness that has killed her family member and is a potential tragedy facing Aboriginal communities in central Australia, who have the world’s highest rates of a fatal, human immune virus for which there is no current cure, no treatment and no coordinated public health response.

Human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is transmitted through sexual contact, blood transfusion and from mother to child by breastfeeding. It can cause a rapidly fatal form of leukaemia. Some people die within weeks of diagnosis. HTLV-1 also causes inflammation of the spinal cord leading to paralysis, severe lung disease known as bronchiectasis and other inflammatory disease.

In five communities around Alice Springs, more than 45% of adults tested have the virus, a rate thousands of times higher than for non-Indigenous Australians.

Survey for all women and anyone with a cervix: HPV-related cancer awareness

Positive Life in partnership with Femfatales, the National Network of Women Living with HIV, 2018

All women and anyone with a cervix in Australia, both HIV-positive and HIV-negative, are invited to take an online, anonymous survey about awareness of HPV and related cancers.

Positive Life NSW in partnership with Femfatales, the National Network of Women Living with HIV, has developed a survey to assess levels of HPV-related cancer awareness among women.

The results of this survey will help them better understand how they can support women to prevent HPV-related cancer and how they can support women in recovery from HPV-related cancer. The responses will also assist in the development of targeted educational resources for immunocompromised women and women living with HIV, who are three times more likely to develop cervical cancer. No identifying information will be collected.

The online survey will take approximately eight minutes to complete. If you require a hard-copy of the survey, they can mail some to you with reply paid envelopes: please feel free to contact Katya on (02) 9206 2178 or at KatyaS@positivelife.org.au

Disclaimer – the responsibility for the ethical aspects of this survey are with the organisation Positive Life NSW. SHINE SA accepts no responsibility or liability for the survey.

In[ter]view: SHINE SA’s Dr Amy Moten

Verse magazine, Edition 18, September 2017

This edition we talked to Amy, SHINE SA’s Medical Educator, who is answering all your questions when it comes to the ‘what’s this’ and ‘how do I check that’ of sex.

  1. How often should people who are sexually active get tested?

You should have a test when symptoms of a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) are first noticed or if a sexual partner is diagnosed with an STI or has symptoms of an STI. Even if you have no symptoms STI screening is recommended for any new sexual contact. Annual screening for people under 30 is recommended, but you can have a test every 3 months if you think you may be at higher risk.

 

First medical study on chest binding recently published

The first medical study on chest binding transgender and non-binary people was published last year. 

The researchers hope that the study will provide an initial roadmap for change, educating physicians on the benefits and impacts of binding and allowing those who bind to take charge of their health. They scoured peer-reviewed literature and information from health clinics, LGBTQ organizations, and online community resources, coming up with 28 potential health outcomes from binding. 1,800 respondents answered an online survey with questions ranging from how often they bound, what they used to bind their chests with, and their gender identity.

  • Read more about the study and chest-binding here 
  • Read study abstract here (for full text, see your librarian)

Correlation between pubic hair grooming and STIs

Abstract

Objective STIs are the most common infections among adults. Concurrently, pubic hair grooming is prevalent. Small-scale studies have demonstrated a relationship between pubic hair grooming and STIs. We aim to examine this relationship in a large sample of men and women.

Design We conducted a probability survey of US residents aged 18–65 years. The survey ascertained self-reported pubic hair grooming practices, sexual behaviours and STI history. We defined extreme grooming as removal of all pubic hair more than 11 times per year and high-frequency grooming as daily/weekly trimming. Cutaneous STIs included herpes, human papillomavirus, syphilis and molluscum. Secretory STIs included gonorrhoea, chlamydia and HIV. We analysed lice separately.

Results Of 7580 respondents who completed the survey, 74% reported grooming their pubic hair, 66% of men and 84% of women. After adjusting for age and lifetime sexual partners, ever having groomed was positively associated with a history of self-reported STIs (OR 1.8; 95% CI 1.4 to 2.2), including cutaneous STIs (OR 2.6; CI 1.8 to 3.7), secretory STIs (OR 1.7; CI 1.3 to 2.2) and lice (OR 1.9; CI 1.3 to 2.9). These positive associations were stronger for extreme groomers (OR 4.4; CI 2.9 to 6.8) and high-frequency groomers (OR 3.5; CI 2.3 to 5.4) with cutaneous STIs, and for non-extreme groomers (OR 2.0; CI 1.3 to 3.0) and low-frequency groomers (OR 2.0; CI 1.3 to 3.1) with lice.

Conclusions Among a representative sample of US residents, pubic hair grooming was positively related to self-reported STI history. Further research is warranted to gain insight into STI risk-reduction strategies.

Access full text (open access) here 

Science & Health Scabies Research Breakthrough Will Help Remote Indigenous Australian Communities

Gizmodo, 15/2/16

Australian researchers have used cutting-edge genome technologies to reveal the genetic makeup of a widespread skin parasite causing serious health problems in Aboriginal communities. The research team identified the genetic ‘map’ of the human parasitic scabies mite, accelerating research that could lead to new ways of preventing and treating scabies infestations and prevent lifelong complications for people in remote Aboriginal communities.

Read more here