ASHM Report Back

Clinical posts from members and guests of the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) from various international medical and scientific conferences on HIV, AIDS, viral hepatitis, and sexual health.

Day 3- A mixed bag

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James Ward presented evidence about the increase in HIV notifications in Aboriginal communities in 2015- 38 cases. The rate of diagnosis has more than doubled in 1 year. HIV is increasing in remote communities. There has been an overall increase in HIV testing, especially in MSM populations but more needs to be done to increase testing and promote treatment as prevention (TasP) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in Aboriginal communities.Ward stated that the syphilis outbreak in Northern Australia is a national shame with over 900 new infectious syphilis cases and 3 neonatal deaths.Harm minimisation services such as needle syringe programs should be expanded. In the past 5 years there has been a 43% increase in hepatitis C diagnosis, which are largely attributable to injecting drug use. Young Aboriginal clients are particularly at high risk.

Key messages

-HIV testing should be offered as part of a routine sexual health screen

-Community engagement is needed to improve the uptake of TasP and PrEP

-Timely surveillance data is needed.

-Some GPs may not be offering full BBV/STI screening as the consults may be lengthy. Work is underway to Medicare items specific toBBV/STIs

-More NSPs are needed

 Caitlin Douglass from the Burnet Institute conducted study on the sexual behaviours and Tinder usage among young Australians.

Tinder was found to be the most popular dating site. An online study of 1001 revealed that 690 participants had been sexually active in the past year and 40% (266) had used Tinder in the past 12 months-35% women and 45% men. Douglass questioned whether Tinder could be used to promote sexual health services and noted that there was a lack of sexual health content on dating apps. Grindr is the exception as there are ‘sexpert’ willing to offer health advice at the click of a button. Grindr also has a portal which can advise users of their nearest sexual health clinic.

Gemma Hearnshaw of the NSW STI Programs Unit discussed the Playsafe website. Playsafe is an interactive engagement tool, which can inform young people about safer sex practices and testing. Peer educators are trained to deliver informal education to festivalgoers and provide free condoms and advice. There has been repeat exposure of safe sex messages on the Ticketek and Live Nations website.

Viv McGregor grabbed everyone’s attention with the fabulous music video –Close: Lady Sings it better. This playful video leaves room for the imagination. I would recommend everyone have a wee look! Click on the link below.

Research by Albury and Noonan in 2001 revealed high levels of same sex sexual interactions among women, despite the fact women often identified primarily as heterosexual. The study found that there was often a lack of sexual health knowledge among this group and they often participated in riskier sexual practices such as impact play, blood play and fisting.

Key messages

More targeted, culturally appropriate information is needed. Clinicians should opportunistically invite all patients to complete sexual health screening irrelevant of sexual orientation or practice.

Claude packs are available in NSW-‘Play packs’ and ‘Blood Play Packs’.  More information is available at

Alison Coelho spoke about a comic based resource for young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds. It was acknowledged that change and unsettlement can cause huge upheaval among this population and many people accessing their services have had significant interruptions to their education. It was found that there was limited information regarding sexual health and a surprisingly high number of young people accessing the service had participated in transactional sex.75% of humanitarian intake is young people and a large proportion are young males. They are often unaccompanied minors and often do not have female role models in their family. Sexual health is often not a priority for this marginalised population group. Issues like housing, employment and language acquisition often seek precedence over sexual health information.

The SHARE project has published many cartoons with important sexual health information messages with little written dialogue. Fact sheets are also available.

Key messages 

This website is a must for people working with young people. Check it out @

  • Dr Elizabeth Crock
    Dr Elizabeth Crock Thursday, 17 November 2016

    Day 3 - a mixed bag - your commentary is appreciated

    Laura, thanks so much for sharing this information on the sessions you attended, as it is impossible for us to attend all that we would like to, and for adding the link to the video and website etc.

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