Disparities in characteristics in accessing public Australian sexual health services between Medicare‐eligible and Medicare‐ineligible MSM

Disparities in characteristics in accessing public Australian sexual health services between Medicare‐eligible and Medicare‐ineligible men who have sex with men

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health

Anysha M. Walia, Christopher K. Fairley, Catriona S. Bradshaw, Marcus Y. Chen, Eric P.F. Chow

First published: 31 August 2020
https://doi.org/10.1111/1753-6405.13029
Abstract:

Objectives: Accessible health services are a key element of effective human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and sexually transmitted infection (STI) control. This study aimed to examine whether there were any differences in accessing sexual health services between Medicare‐eligible and Medicare‐ineligible men who have sex with men (MSM) in Melbourne, Australia.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective, cross‐sectional study of MSM attending Melbourne Sexual Health Centre between 2016 and 2019. Demographic characteristics, sexual practices, HIV testing practices and STI diagnoses were compared between Medicare‐eligible and Medicare‐ineligible MSM.

Results: We included 5,085 Medicare‐eligible and 2,786 Medicare‐ineligible MSM. Condomless anal sex in the past 12 months was more common in Medicare‐eligible compared to Medicare‐ineligible MSM (74.4% vs. 64.9%; p<0.001) although the number of partners did not differ between groups. There was no difference in prior HIV testing practices between Medicare‐eligible and Medicare‐ineligible MSM (76.1% vs. 77.7%; p=0.122). Medicare‐ineligible MSM were more likely to have anorectal chlamydia compared to Medicare‐eligible MSM (10.6% vs. 8.5%; p=0.004).

Conclusions: Medicare‐ineligible MSM have less condomless sex but a higher rate of anorectal chlamydia, suggesting they might have limited access to STI testing or may be less willing to disclose high‐risk behaviour.

Implications for public health: Scaling up access to HIV and STI testings for Medicare‐ineligible MSM is essential.

The Experience of International Students Before and During COVID-19: Housing, work, study, and wellbeing

 University of Technology Sydney, Australian Research Council study (DP190101073),

International students’ experience of renting accommodation in Australia is a crucial but overlooked determinant of their wellbeing, which has been brought into stark relief by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report is based on two surveys of international students in the private rental sector (PRS). The first survey was conducted in the second half of 2019, before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the second survey in June and the first week of July 2020, during the pandemic.

The findings of the first survey show that a substantial proportion of international students were already in a precarious situation before the pandemic.

The second survey reveals the various impacts of the pandemic on international students in the private rental sector and the extent to which their circumstances have deteriorated.

The report also draws on data from the initial stage of the qualitative component of the study – semi-structured in-depth interviews with international students conducted between April and July 2020. Quotes from some of the 26 semi-structured interviews conducted thus far, are presented alongside the survey data evidence that follows.

Although the focus is on the experiences of private renting, the report has taken a broader sociological approach to student housing problems and, as such, it offers wider insights into the wellbeing, employment, and income situations of international students at a crucial turning point for the Australian higher education sector

How the ‘National Cabinet of Whores’ is leading Australia’s coronavirus response for sex workers

Roxana Diamond in The Conversation, August 7, 2020 12.31pm AEST

This article has links that contain graphic content

Many industries and employees have been hurt by COVID-19. But sex workers, who face stigma and discrimination at the best of times, have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.

The United Nations has warned,

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, sex workers all over the world are experiencing hardship, a total loss of income and increased discrimination and harassment.

As both a researcher in the area and sex worker myself, I have seen how sex workers have been an afterthought in Australia’s responses to COVID-19. And how it has been up to sex workers yet again to protect their community, underscoring the importance of decriminalising sex work.

Flux Study COVID-19 Diary Recruitment and Report

Kirby Institute, UNSW, July 2020

Social distancing restrictions due to COVID-19 may affect how gay and bisexual men are arranging their sex lives and taking care of their health. And this will likely also affect trends in HIV infection and STIs over coming months, or even years. Monitoring the impact of COVID-19, before, during, and after the pandemic, is essential to understanding and responding to trends in HIV infection, mental health, and STIs.

​This study investigating the lived experiences of COVID-19 among gay and bisexual men including isolation, support, mental health and resilience, income loss, and access to health services. We will address how gay and bisexual men experience, engage with, and emerge from, COVID-19.

What does participation in this research require? 

If you decide to take part in this study, we will ask you to do the following:

  1. Your first questionnaire: This questionnaire collects information about you and your previous experiences.

  2. Weekly diary: After completing the your first survey, you will be asked to complete a 5-minute diary each Sunday.

What’s in it for you? 

We value our participants! To show our appreciation, for every survey you complete, you’ll automatically go in a raffle to win prizes in the form of gift cards to the value of $200.

Links

COVID-19 Impact and Response for Sex Workers

Scarlet Alliance, 2020

STATEMENT OF IMPACT

Sex workers throughout Australia have been devastatingly hit by the impact of coronavirus. As a workforce, sex workers are predominantly a mixture of precarious workers and the self-employed, being independent contractors who work in or for sex industry businesses, or sole traders who work independently for themselves. As such sex workers are particularly marginalised in terms of the impact of the coronavirus and many will still be excluded from the stimulus packages announced by the government.

While we welcome the announcement that from 27 April 2020 sole traders are included in the government’s Economic Response to the coronavirus, many sex workers will still be left without financial support.

Read more here

There are fears coronavirus is stopping Australia’s migrant women from accessing abortions

SBS News, 26th April 2020

Vulnerable pregnant women could lose access to abortion throughout Australia because of increased financial hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic, reproductive health providers have warned. 

A combination of widespread job losses, differing abortion laws around the country, and patchy access to Medicare, could mean more women need financial assistance to terminate unwanted pregnancies or will face carrying their pregnancies to term.

Some providers even fear a return to people attempting unsafe abortions if women cannot afford legal terminations.