It’s time to lift the restrictions on medical abortion in Australia – Professor Caroline de Costa

The Conversation, April 1, 2019 6.13am AEDT

Over the past thirteen years, many Australian women have used the drug mifepristone (RU486) to bring about a medical abortion.

Rather than undergoing a surgical abortion in a clinic or hospital operating theatre, a medical abortion is induced by taking drugs prescribed by a doctor.

But while mifepristone has been available in Australia since 2006, only some women, in some parts of the country, are able to access it. Professor Caroline de Costa argues in the Medical Journal of Australia that this needs to change.

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.

 

STIs in remote Australia

ABC Health Report, Monday 18 March 2019 5:45 PM

Leading Aboriginal researcher Associate Professor James Ward* is calling for action in remote Australia to deal with a preventable epidemic of sexually transmissible infections — including syphilis — in a population that’s no more sexually active than non-Indigenous people of the same age.  

He joined Dr Norman Swan’s Health Report on ABC RN.

Later this month James will present to the National Rural Health Conference about addressing sexually transmitted infections in remote Australia.

*James Ward is Associate Professor, Flinders University; & Head of Infectious Diseases Research, Aboriginal Health, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute. 

 

 

Transgender Visibility Matters in the Workplace (SHINE SA media release)

SHINE SA, 27th March 2019

SHINE SA Media Release

International Transgender Day of Visibility on 31 March is a day we acknowledge each year to celebrate transgender and gender diverse people around the globe, their courage and accomplishments.

The term ‘transgender’ refers to a person whose gender identity or expression is different from their assigned sex. Trans people experience significant harassment, discrimination and violence and may also face difficulties gaining employment.

It is important that organisations and individuals take steps to encourage inclusivity and diversity. Research by the Diversity Council Australia found that LGBTIQA+ employees in organisations that were highly LGBTIQA+ inclusive were twice as likely as employees in non-inclusive cultures to innovate, and 28% more likely to provide excellent customer/client service.

SHINE SA was the first organisation in SA to achieve Rainbow Tick Accreditation, which ensures all systems and processes are in place for an inclusive culture and operation.

Natasha Miliotis SHINE SA’s Chief Executive said:

“We were surprised at how much our whole organisation developed from Rainbow Tick Accreditation. Improving our capacity to be inclusive and to support diversity benefited everyone – staff, clients, stakeholders and our organisational culture as a whole. It’s made us more flexible, more able to respond to the needs of others. It has also made us better at designing and delivering services to support Trans people: whether that’s STI testing, contraception advice, cervical screening, counselling support or providing inclusive education to doctors, nurses and teachers or providing information to the community.”

Zac Cannell, SHINE SA Sexual Health Counsellor, and Co-Founder and Co-Facilitator of TransMascSA writes:

“I self-identify as a transgender man. My lived experience of gender diversity is an important factor to me in my profession, my community advocacy, as well as my social connectivity. I knew when I transitioned that there were many hurdles ahead of me, one of which was employment. As a visible transgender person I sadly knew my options for employment would be limited, and I knew I faced potential discrimination. My colleagues, and the SHINE SA management team, don’t just talk about inclusivity, they live it and champion it. This has gone a long way to helping build my resilience and confidence as an individual, as a professional, and as a SHINE SA team member. It also shows the community the value of leadership in facilitating visible diversity and the positive impact it has.”

SHINE SA offers a Gender Wellbeing Service which is a free counselling and peer support service for people who are questioning their gender or who identify as Trans or Gender Diverse in the Metropolitan Adelaide area. For more information click here. 

SHINE SA also offers education opportunities for individuals and organisations that want to encourage and support diversity. For more information on SHINE SA’s workforce development click here. 

To learn more about why inclusion and diversity matters watch this clip.

For further information contact Tracey Hutt, Director Workforce Education and Development on tracey.hutt@shinesa.org.au or 0434 937 036.

Special issue of Drugs and Alcohol Today: ChemSex – Apps, drugs and the right to pleasure

Emerald Publishing Limited, 2019

This special edition of Drugs and Alcohol Today, entitled “Chemsex – Apps, drugs and the right to pleasure”, acknowledges an aspect of drug taking that is often ignored in the discourse on the “scourge” of drug abuse – that drugs enhance pleasure.

Amidst the pleasure brought on by “chems”, there has been pain. Drug overdoses and deaths fuelled by a prohibition that supports an illicit market of unlabelled, often adulterated drugs and fear that calling an ambulance will implicate you in a crime

Chemsex is a unique phenomenon, requiring unique public health responses. The melding of smart phone apps, spatial data and real time “personal adverts requires a significant re-think and re-design when developing public health responses”.

This issue publishes work from experts that help gay communities to mobilise their own responses. It takes the onus off public health policy to respond, and respectfully recognises the agency and resilience within gay communities, to formulate culturally and contextually competent community responses to chemsex.

Free access to this special issue until March 31st

 

 

 

More needs to be done for LGBTIQ+ inclusion across Australia, ANZ research shows

ANZ, February 20, 2019

New ANZ research1 shows that almost half a million LGBTIQ+ community members (1 in every 4) in Australia are still not comfortable being their true selves and discussing their sexuality and gender identity with their loved ones or friends.

ANZ commissioned the research to mark its 13 year relationship with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

ANZ’s Group Executive Australia, Mark Hand, who is also Chair of ANZ’s Diversity Council, said: “Being open about your whole identity is something that all Australians should be comfortable doing, and yet our research shows that this is not the case.”

Key research findings:

  • 84% of LGBTIQ+ community members believe there are still parts of Australia where it is unsafe to be LGBTIQ+. And 68% of non- LGBTIQ+ think so too.
  • 68% of Aussies support efforts to improve LGBTIQ+ equality.
  • LGBTIQ+ community members are still twice as likely to experience some form of harassment, discrimination or open prejudice because of their sexual orientation.
  • 52% of LGBTIQ+ community members would not open up about their sexuality with their manager at work.