Managing HIV, sex and risk among serodiscordant couples in a changing epidemic
In view of the 'treatment revolution' and bold targets to reduce HIV infections in Australia over the next few years, a new study led by NCHSR directly responds to the social research priority to 'improve understanding of the experiences and HIV prevention needs of people in serodiscordant relationships', as outlined in the previous NSW HIV/AIDS Strategy. Past research has indicated that one-third of new infections in Australia occur within a regular relationship.
Health and wellbeing of people living with HIV in Australia
Stigma has long been recognised as a serious and debilitating feature of the HIV epidemic. There are a number of reasons why HIV may be stigmatised, including that it is a serious communicable disease which disproportionately affects groups already marginalised in society, and it is associated with taboo behaviours such as homosexual sex and drug use. The Stigma Audit study is the first large scale project to address the impact of stigma on health and wellbeing for people living with HIV in Australia.
The Stigma Audit research project was a joint effort by the National Centre in HIV Social Research and the National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS on the experiences of stigma for people living with HIV and the implications for their health and wellbeing. This research contributes to a conceptual understanding of the experiences of stigma for people living with HIV hence shaping the development of novel interventions.
Accompanying the recent announcement of the AIDS 2014 Conference Coordinating Committee, Sharon Lewin (AIDS 2014 co-Chair) said, “Our committee members are leaders in the HIV response drawn from 14 countries. With such a wide array of expertise we are confident that AIDS 2014 will offer a conference programme covering the most pressing topics across the five different scientific tracks”.
And helping to ensure that happens in Track D of the Scientific Program will be Professor John de Wit, Director of the National Centre in HIV Social Research at The University of New South Wales. Together with Justine Sass of UNESCO, John will be co-Chair of the Social and Political Research, Law, Policy and Human Rights track. It will focus on the social, political, behavioural, and human rights factors influencing HIV risk, vulnerability, response, and impact as assessed in empirical research and legal and policy analyses.
Sexual risk taking among gay men finding their partners online
The internet is a popular way to meet sex partners, notably among gay men. Little is known, however, of gay men’s online conduct and while studies have found an association between the use of the internet and sexual risk taking this link is not well understood. A study was conducted by NCHSR to understand gay men’s online interactions and how chatting contributes to sexual risk taking. Preliminary results offer new understandings of the reasons why sexual risk taking occurs with some partners met online. According to Dr Philippe Adam, lead investigator of
the Cybersex project, "the unique dynamic of online chatting and fantasising often produces risk, over and above gay men’s intentions."
Marginalised young people and drugs, injecting and hepatitis C
Lately discussions about hepatitis C prevention have reframed the focus on young people to include not only those who are injecting but those at risk for taking up injecting. By focussing on this group the hope is to reduce harms among those who might eventually inject and of course to reduce the incidence of hepatitis C infection. Indeed the highest incidence of hepatitis C infection occurs among people who have been injecting for three years or less. A new report released by NCHSR describes one of the first known studies of this group.