Curtin University, released August 2021
In Australia, there are significant health disparities between domestic- and overseas-born residents with respect to sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and blood-borne viruses (BBVs).
For instance, in 2017 the HIV notification rate in Australia was over three times higher for people born in South-East Asia (14 per 100,000) and Sub-Saharan Africa (13.5 per 100,000) compared to Australian-born residents (4.0 per 100,000). With respect to people living with chronic hepatitis B in Australia (estimated prevalence = 233,957), 21.4% were born in North-East Asia and 17% were born in South-East Asia.
Efforts to understand STI and BBV knowledge, behaviour and access to services among CaLD populations in Australia have largely been in the form of “short-term, small-scale projects and research studies”.
The aim of the Migrant Blood-Borne Virus and Sexual Health Survey (MiBSS) is to investigate the feasibility of a periodic national survey of CaLD people’s knowledge, attitudes, and practices with
respect to STIs and BBVs, and to collect baseline data.
This report presents the methods and findings of the South Australian sub-study.
Summary of South Australian results:
- There were 417 included survey respondents from South Australia
- The largest proportion of the sample from SA was born in North-East Asia, followed by Sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia.
- The majority of survey respondents were between 18 and 39 years old.
- The majority of respondents identified as female.
- Over 80% of respondents had lived in Australia for less than 20 years.
- 88% reported being attracted to the ‘opposite’ gender only, 12% were attracted to the same or multiple genders.
- 96% of respondents resided in Adelaide.
- The majority of surveys were completed in paper form.
- Most respondents completed the survey in English.
- The majority of respondents had heard of HIV. of those, just over one-third were aware that HIV testing is NOT done whenever someone has a blood test.
- Approximately one in three respondents knew that there is medication available so people with HIV can live a normal life.
- 58% of men who are sexually attracted to men had PrEP knowledge
- Heard of chlamydia: 49% / Heard of gonorrhoea: 56% / Heard of syphilis: 57%
- Of those who had heard of at least one STI… 67% knew that a person can have an STI without any symptoms; 65% knew that a person with only one sexual partner can get an STI; 61% knew that STIs can make it harder for women to get pregnant
- Just over one-quarter “have heard of hepatitis B and know what it is”: 82% were aware there is a vaccine, 70% were aware it can be passed through sex without a condom, 67% were aware it can be passed on by sharing razors
- BUT fewer had knowledge that … it cannot be passed on by sharing food (52%); there is no medication to cure the virus (50%); it cannot be passed through contaminated water (41%).
- Just over one-fifth of all respondents (n=91) had heard of hepatitis C and could distinguish it from other forms of hepatitis; Of those …
36% knew there is no vaccine, 22% knew there is a cure, but a higher proportion (85%) were aware that hepatitis C can be passed on with injecting drug equipment.
- The majority of respondents reported only one sexual partner in the previous 12 months.
- 18% of respondents who had been overseas since Jan 2018 reported having sex during one of those visits.
- The majority (56.49%) of respondents who answered “Did you use a condom the most recent time you had sex?” answered ‘No’; 39.33% answered ‘Yes’; and 4.18% could not remember.
- Less than one-third of all respondents who answered the test timing question reported having had an STI or BBV test within the last two years. Of those who had been tested, only a small
proportion had been tested for chlamydia or gonorrhoea.
- When asked “How would you feel if a doctor in Australia offered you STI and BBV tests during an appointment without you requesting any of these tests?’, 52% said “Okay – STI and BBV testing is normal’.
The report makes recommendations based on the above findings.