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

SHINE SA 2018–19 Annual Report is now out

SHINE SA, 14/11/2019

SHINE SA’s 2018–19 Annual Report is now out. 

Over the course of the year, we provided clinical services to more than 34,000 clients and counselling services to over 900 clients. Over 1,000 doctors, nurses and midwives attended our courses and updates. Over 2,500 teachers attended our courses and updates.

Thank you to our staff, clients and partner organisations who have supported us in our purpose to provide a comprehensive approach to sexual, reproductive and relationship health and wellbeing.

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.

Secondary students’ sexual health survey results

La Trobe University, 11th June 2019

The sixth National Survey of Australian Secondary Students and Sexual Health, conducted in 2018 and released today, found 47 per cent of Year 10-12 students taking the survey had engaged in sexual intercourse.  Of sexually active respondents, 76 per cent had sex at home; 65 per cent with a boyfriend or girlfriend; 62 percent often or always used a condom; and 86 per cent with somebody about the same age.

Lead researcher at La Trobe University’s Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society Dr Christopher Fisher said the survey asked 6327 Year 10-12 students in Government, Catholic and Independent schools from each state and territory, about their sexual behaviour and knowledge of sexually transmitted infections.

“Overall, young Australians have good knowledge of sexual health, are behaving responsibly and are actively seeking out trusted, reliable sources of information,” Dr Fisher said.

Rapid HIV testing increases testing frequency among gay and bisexual men: a controlled before–after study

Sexual Health – https://doi.org/10.1071/SH18161

Keen Phillip, Jamil Muhammad, Callander Denton, Conway Damian P., McNulty Anna, Davies Stephen C., Couldwell Deborah C., Smith Don E., Holt Martin, Vaccher Stefanie J., Gray James, Cunningham Philip, Prestage Garrett, Guy Rebecca, (2019)

Published online: 4 April 2019

Abstract:

BackgroundRapid HIV testing was introduced at 12 clinics in New South Wales (NSW) for routine testing and promoted with social marketing. The effect of the availability of rapid HIV testing on testing frequency among gay and bisexual men (GBM) was evaluated.

Methods: An observational design using patient data from 12 clinics was used. The primary outcome was the mean number of HIV tests in 12 months. The intervention group comprised GBM who had one or more rapid tests from October 2013 to September 2014 and this was compared with two control groups; a concurrent group (no rapid test in the same period) and a historical group (attended between July 2011 and June 2012). Independent sample t-tests were conducted to compare mean number of tests among men in the intervention, concurrent and historical groups. Multivariate logistic regression was used to assess the association between rapid HIV testing and testing frequency.

Results: Men in the intervention group (n = 3934) had a mean of 1.8 HIV tests in 12 months, compared with 1.4 in the concurrent group (n = 5063; P < 0.001) and 1.4 in the historical group (n = 5904; P < 0.001); testing frequency was higher among men at increased risk of HIV in the intervention group compared with the other two groups (mean 2.2, 1.6 and 1.5 respectively; P < 0.001). Membership of the intervention group was associated with increased odds of having two or more HIV tests in 12 months (AOR = 2.5, 95%CI 2.2–2.8; P < 0.001) compared with the concurrent group, after controlling for demographic and behavioural factors.

Conclusion: Introducing and promoting rapid HIV testing in clinics in NSW was associated with increased HIV testing frequency among GBM.

 

STI’S on the rise in SA – free campaign resources (SHINE SA media release)

SHINE SA, April 2, 2019

Sexually transmitted infection (STI) rates are on the rise in South Australia, with around 1 in 20 young people infected with chlamydia¹. Left untreated chlamydia can lead to infection of the reproductive systems and long term consequences. Having one STI also increases the risk of being infected with another. As such it’s important that young people in SA are encouraged to practise safer sex as well as getting a sexual health check.

In response to this rise in STIs, SHINE SA is excited to announce the launch of their Sexual Health Check campaign and related resources for use across South Australia. These resources can be used by organisations including universities, secondary schools, youth services, general practice and community health services.

The Sexual Health Check campaign aims to raise awareness of STIs as well as highlight how easy it is to get a sexual health check.
According to the most recent epidemiological report released by SA Health in 2017, STI and blood borne viruses (BBVs) have jumped 14% compared to the previous five years.

In 2017:

  • there were 8,181 new infections of STIs and BBVs, this is a 7% increase compared to 2016
  • 77% of infections were in people aged 15 to 29 years.

SHINE SA encourages young people to receive a sexual health check at a SHINE SA clinic, their local doctor or Aboriginal Health service. SHINE SA offers FREE sexual health checks as well as counselling to South Australians under the age of 30 with a Medicare Card.

Dr Amy Moten, SHINE SA’s Coordinator of Medical Education said:
“STIs are on the rise, so practicing safer sex and having regular testing is vital. Left untreated, serious infection may occur and lead to complications such as infertility, chronic pelvic pain and ectopic pregnancy. As most people don’t have any symptoms, lack of testing contributes to the continued spread of the disease”.

SHINE SA hopes other health and education organisations and media outlets can assist by promoting and sharing the Sexual Health Check campaign. By doing so we can help raise awareness of STIs in the community and encourage young people to access sexual heath checks.

  • The free campaign resources including a Sexual Health + STIs FAQ booklet, posters and social media tiles can be downloaded here
  • For further information contact Tracey Hutt, Director Workforce Education and Development, by email here 
  • Download this media release

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¹ http://www.sti.guidelines.org.au/populations-and-situations/young-people