Sexual Health

Aboriginal Project @ACON

Aboriginal Project @ACON


A new series of Indigenous health resources was launched today by the ACON Aboriginal Project as part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week. The Aboriginal Project encompasses health promotion for, by and with Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people of diverse sexuality and gender, especially those living with HIV, or at highest risk of being affected by HIV. The Project aims to build knowledge and skills-based resilience, health and wellbeing via a culturally appropriate model of holistic health that recognises emotional, spiritual, social and mental wellbeing. The team also work with different groups to tackle racism in the community.

To celebrate the launch, special guests, elders and families were invited to a lunch and performance by Gumaroy Newman and brother Mike. Here they are in full flight performing a series of traditional dances for the crowd. Deadly!




IMG_9410 copy


Congratulations to Stephen Morgan, Mish and the ACON Aboriginal Project team for a great event on the eve of World AIDS Day 2015.

Find out more about ACON’s work with Aboriginal people 

Follow Aboriginal Project ACON on Facebook

Follow @RedRibbonsHIV on Twitter and Facebook 





Red Ribbon Revisited

Red Ribbon Revisited

It’s the Return of the Red Ribbon!

Excited to announce we’re the lucky recipients of a NSW Health + South Eastern Sydney Local Health District grant to raise HIV awareness for World AIDS Day 2015 #WAD2015.

The Red Ribbon took on celebrity status in Sydney back in 2012 as we toured festivals and events raising HIV awareness. Everyone from ministers to mayors, neurologists to nurses, actors, artists and activists proudly wore the Ribbon.

Check out our gorgeous gallery!


We were privileged to meet these incredible people in 2012 and we can’t wait to get started this year!  We’ll be focusing on the South Eastern Sydney district this year: Kogarah, Rockdale, St.George, Hurstville and Sutherland.

To get involved go to our Facebook page to see where we’ll be heading between 28 November 28 and 2 December. Come and get wrapped in the Ribbon!


Follow us on Twitter @RedRibbonsHIV


and check out our Pinterest posts for your Red Ribbon photos.RedRibbons5

Looking forward to seeing you all soon for #WAD2015


How can I help raise HIV Awareness this World AIDS Day? 

Friend Red Ribbons on Facebook

Follow the Red Ribbon on Twitter @RedRibbonsHIV

Test More, Treat Early, Prevent equals Ending HIV WAD logosmall





Infection Protection Review

Infection Protection Review

OK, so as promised in our previous blog from the #WorldSTICongress2015, we had our in-house gamers review the new STI game developed by WA Health Infection Protection. 

Introducing Gamer 1: At 14 years old, this gamer has had 12 years gaming experience. Starting out at 2 playing Freddie Fish, he moved into Star Wars Lego games at 6, loved Mario Kart, built hundreds of architecturally designed cities in Minecraft (still a gold favourite) peppering these games with bouts of Team Fortress 2 and FIFA, until he discovered Assassins Creed and shoot-em-up games like Call of Duty.

The game has a really good concept. I like how they’ve integrated Minecraft a popular and well known video game into something that educates children about STIs and health. It’s pretty funny at first, because everyone is having sex and that’s a bit weird. I’ve never seen Minecraft people having sex before. This made me laugh but it could make some people feel uncomfortable.  After a while you get used to it and then you realise that it’s actually quite serious that the more sex they have the more diseases they can get.

You feel you’re responsible for these people having sex and spreading diseases as quickly as they do. So you have to stop the spread of disease by giving them safe sex packs and treating them. 

Sending them to the clinic to get tested is really good because you learn about the symptoms and the treatments that are available.

The only thing is that you can’t really tell if the person has symptoms - but they should still go to the clinic to get tested just in case they just caught something from the last person they had sex with.

The way the game could be improved would be to give the characters more personality. Perhaps a picture of them (avatar) and a description eg; Brown hair, blue eyes, likes girls, likes boys, likes both, only has sex with one person, has lots of sex, has symptoms, has no symptoms. Make it more personal. You have to take care of them so you might as well know who they are. 

Introducing Gamer 2: At 12, this gamer likes to play SIMS, Minecraft, Super Mario Bros, Nintendogs, Wii Sports, Kitty Powers Match Maker. She is an app queen with an iPhone and an attitude.

It’s weird for a 12 year old to see Minecraft characters doing that with each other. We still haven’t had “The Talk” at school but my Mum has told me about all that stuff. I know it’s normal, but it’s still weird. I like the way it looks like Minecraft. The graphics were pretty good. I played for a while and treated some people at the Clinic but I got bored after a while. I didn’t really want to learn about sex and diseases so I stopped playing. I don’t think I’d play again unless the characters were more interesting. Maybe if they had pets or did other stuff.

Infection Protection


Play Infection Protection by going to


get the facts

Download Infection Protection from




Get Your Game On!

Get Your Game On!

Turning the corner, I braced myself for another unfathomably academic abstract with a title that reads something like Engineering Human Rhinovirus Serotype A-1 as an HIV Vaccine Vector. My poor overloaded brain just wasn’t able to cope with another poster of stats, graphs and nanotype. So imagine the relief when I turned the corner to find the complete opposite. Here, at the World STI Congress 2015, was a research group who had finally got their game on.

Infection Protection, an initiative from the WA Health Department, are using online gaming to get their Sexual Health messages out to the young (and the young at heart). You can check out Infection Protection by downloading it from

Interactive Games Missing their Mark

Interactive games are playing an increasingly important role in education around health and social issues. Check out this list compiled by MedlinePlus to see how much of an influence health games are playing. While the intentions are good, the majority of health games miss their mark. Kids are so much more tech savvy than we realise and in the time it takes to develop and build a game, it’s easy to lose them if the game is lame. Yes, the intentions are good - but are they really reaching their target audience?

Cashing in on the Minecraft Model

Infection Protection appears to have hit their target by channelling the one game that has completely captured kid’s imaginations, Minecraft. Millions of young people from 2-22 are playing Minecraft - the global gaming phenomena that uses blockhead characters to build cities, worlds and galaxies. You can play online with other Minecrafters from across the globe, or offline if you have the demo game.

Infection Protection is a simple game but, from our perspective, the branding is spot on. And, just to be sure, we’re going to ask our 12-14 year old audience to review the game.

Stay tuned for an honest appraisal next week!

PS: We tried to download from the App Store but had a few issues, so we went to Get The Facts and found a whole bunch of other really great sexual health messages for young people.

Download Infection Protection from


get the facts

Download from

#WorldSTICongress2015  #AUSHIVAIDS2015




On the right track with early HIV treatment

On the right track with early HIV treatment

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) has welcomed news of the early results of a major international study that found that early treatment halved the risk of people with HIV developing a range of serious illnesses.


The Strategic Timing of Antiretroviral Treatment (START) study looked at the risks and benefits of early versus delayed antiretroviral treatment. The study has been wound up ahead of time due to the conclusive findings. These results offer further support to Australia’s efforts to increase treatment uptake among all people with HIV. Evidence has existed for several years that HIV treatments dramatically reduce the infectiousness of people with HIV. The START study now indicates there is a clear benefit to individual health, even among people with high CD4 counts.

Clear Support for Initiating Early Treatment

AFAO Executive Director Rob Lake said it was great news, offering strong evidence to support what many health professionals have believed for some time. “We’ve thought for some time early treatment – rather than waiting – was beneficial,” Rob Lake said. “For health professionals, these results offer clear support for initiating treatment as soon as patients are ready. For people with HIV, who may be delaying treatment until their CD4 count starts to fall or who may be apprehensive for other reasons, these results should offer confidence that starting now is the best decision for long-term health,” said Rob Lake.

Australia is considered to have fairly high rate of antiretroviral treatment uptake among people living with HIV, thanks to the strong community support and education and the PBS scheme which subsidises the costs of medications. “In a country like Australia with a strong health system and PBS, the study results are great news because people with HIV can take advantage of the medicines straight away.”

AFAO said the study’s results would strengthen the fight for treatment in countries where access is poor. Globally only about 40% of people with HIV are able to access HIV treatments.


Join our coverage of the World STI Congress together with the Australian HIV & AIDS Conference from 13 - 18 September 2015







Becoming more Gay Friendly in your Practice

Becoming more Gay Friendly in your Practice

GPs and practice nurses seeking to become more ‘gay friendly’ in their practice now have the option to complete a short online learning module Becoming More Gay Friendly in your Practice. Developed by the STIs in Gay Men Action Group (STIGMA), the OLM guides GPs on the diverse health needs of gay and homosexually active men. In particular, sexual health screening, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV testing, as well as psycho-social issues commonly experienced by gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM).

Dr Chris Bourne, Head, NSW STI Programs Unit and Senior Staff Specialist, Sydney SexualHealth Centre, said gay or homosexually active men in Australia are disproportionately affected by STIs, including HIV, and most diagnoses in Australia are made by GPs. “It is important for everyone to feel comfortable when visiting a GP. For gay or homosexuall yactive men, GPs play an important role in helping them assess their sexual health risk and providing opportunities to test for STIs and HIV,” he said. “The OLM aims to help GPs deliver care which is inclusive of gay or homosexually active men; where they feel safe and free from discrimination and can be offered current professional health advice.”

Dr David Baker, a GP at East Sydney Doctors, says the OLM training highlights the diverse health needs of gay and homosexually active men, which encompass primary health care,current trends in sexual health, understanding of gay culture and its diversity. “As a GP, it’s important to become confident in identifying common health issues faced by gay men and men who have sex with men, particularly when it comes to their sexual health,” Dr Baker said. “The STIGMA OLM is an excellent resource for GPs who want to know more about being ‘gay friendly’ in their clinical practice and how to address and work with health issues specific to this population. The knowledge gained from the OLM enables GPs to have a more informed perspective and to to open up a discussion about STI risk, STI testing, drug and alcohol use and mental health.’’

Becoming More Gay Friendly in your Practice was developed by STIGMA, following its development of a ‘Gay Friendly GP List’ for NSW, to support access to the primary health care of gay men and MSM. The OLM is structured in three interactive case-based modules. The modules include: towards a better understanding of gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM), discussing sexual history and testing for STIs, and common health issues facing gay men and MSM. The OLM can be completed over one hour or 20 minutes for each module.

GPs and practice nurses can access the OLM by going to the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM) Learning Management System registering or logging on, then clicking on the Catalogue tab.

GPs who complete the OLM in full can accrue two Cat.2 RACGP QI&CPD points.


HIV Shared Care for GPs

HIV Shared Care for GPs

The Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM) have developed a suite of resources to support GPs who provide care to HIV positive patients in their practice. Key to the HIV Shared Care for GPs model is the knowledge that improved treatment outcomes means that HIV is now considered a chronic condition. GPs, specialists, nurses, allied health and support services are involved in the management of people living with HIV and this management involves team-based interdisciplinary communication and planning.


Central to HIV Shared Care for GPs is the GP Management Plan (GPMP) for HIV - a tool that encourages comprehensive disease management using an annual cycle of care for HIV based on current guidelines including the RACGP Red Book and STIGMA Guidelines for STI testing.

HIV GPMP Audit and Shared Care Training

To evaluate the GPMP for HIV, an Audit and training package have been developed by ASHM with endorsement by the RACGP.

GPs with a caseload of five or more HIV positive patients have the opportunity to earn 40 RACGP QI&CPD Audit Points and 6 ASHM HIV Points when they participate in the Audit.

The Audit consists of three parts:

Part 1: A retrospective audit of five HIV positive patients for whom they have provided care in their practice. Each audit consists of 24 questions about the HIV management provided for that patient, and the level of communication between GP and HIV specialist or specialist service.

Part 2: Shared care training. The training consists of nine short videos from GPs, and specialist HIV services outlining how to develop a comprehensive GPMP for HIV and including the key issues in monitoring, management and best practice shared care between GPs and specialists.

Part 3: 6 months following the training component, the GP will be asked to complete a second retrospective audit of five HIV positive patients for whom they have provided care since the training.

The results will compare pre- and post- GPMP Shared Care training. GPs will receive a report that highlights their management of patients living with HIV, where their communication and monitoring needs improvement and encouraging GPs to reflect on their practice.

Participating in the Audit

The HIV GPMP Audit and Shared Care Training is available on the ASHM Learning Management System (LMS). Participants need to register for a username and password to access the LMS. Once registered GPs, and other health professionals, have access to an extensive library of online modules, training and webinars which accrue points towards their continuing professional development (CPD).

For more information, visit the ASHM Website
or contact ASHM via email hivsharedcare [at]



Who else should you test for HIV?

Who else should you test for HIV?

Who else should you test for HIV?

Groups that you know to test for HIV include; gay and other men who have sex with men, sex workers and people who inject drugs. There are however other groups that you should consider testing. In NSW during 2014, 14% of all HIV notifications were from heterosexual people1 and it is estimated there are currently 620 heterosexual people infected with HIV who are undiagnosed2. Heterosexual people who are:

  • sexual or injecting partners of people who live with HIV;
  • frequent or long term travellers, particularly those who have recently travelled to Africa or Asia;
  • people who inject drugs;
  • those who are chronically unwell, where no explanation can be found;
  • people whose sexual partners are from high prevalence countries or regions e.g. Africa or  Asia and;
  • heterosexual men having sex with men,

should also be tested for HIV, as they are at increased risk for infection.

Abby, 26, had trouble even getting a test from her doctor, with the doctor dismissing her concerns. ‘I had a new partner and just had a feeling…..When I asked  my doctor for a test she just said Abby you are young straight woman, living in Australia…why would you need a test?  She did test me and I was HIV positive. Of course it was a shock but finding out early was the best thing for my health.’

Associate Professor Catherine O’Connor, Director of the Sexual Health Service at Sydney Local Health District advises that GPs should be testing for HIV. ‘As GPs are the front line health services most accessed by the general community, it is important that GPs are aware of who is at risk of HIV infection. Sexual Health Services can provide support to GPs who are making HIV diagnoses,’

Pozhet is the Heterosexual HIV Service for NSW. We provide programs and services to improve the wellbeing of the diverse heterosexual community of people living with HIV, their partners, family and friends. For more information please visit the website: or call the Heterosexual HIV Information Line on 1800 812 404.


Follow Pozhet on Twitter

Like Pozhet on Facebook

Logo for PozHet Heterosexual HIV Service in dark blue showing 2 white and 2 lighter blue paper doll cutouts with arms raised

Information for GPs:

Making a New HIV Diagnosis  - Australsian Society of HIV Medicine (ASHM)

National HIV Testing Policy





  1. NSW Ministry of Health (2014), NSW HIV Strategy 2012- 2015: A new era, 2nd Annual report on progress, snapshot, available from:,  accessed 26 March 2015.
  2. Jansson J., Kerr C. C., Wilson D. P., (2014), Predicting the population impact of increasing HIV testing and treatment in Australia.

STIGMA STI Testing Guidelines

STIGMA STI Testing Guidelines


Continued high rates of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) among gay and other men

who have sex with men (MSM) in NSW, including those who are HIV positive, have prompted

a revision of the STI and HIV testing guidelines for NSW.


The guidelines, 2014 Sexually Transmitted Infection and HIV Testing Guidelines for

Asymptomatic Men who have Sex with Men, released this month by the Sexually

Transmissible Infections in Gay Men Action Group (STIGMA) continue to recommend annual

testing for gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and HIV and more frequent testing for high risk



Last published in 2010, the revised guidelines now also recommend throat testing for

chlamydia, and the use of electronic reminders for gay men and their clinicians to increase

the regularity of testing, particularly for gay men in inner-Sydney and other Australian

metropolitan centres.


Developed to assist GPs and primary health practitioners with comprehensive and regular

testing of gay men, the revised guidelines also recommend conducting a behavioural risk

assessment and promoting consistent condom use amongst gay men.


Karen Price, Chair of STIGMA and Director HIV and Sexual Health, ACON, said HIV and STI

testing remained an essential component of improving health, wellbeing and efforts to end

HIV transmission amongst gay men.

“We must acknowledge the great commitment many gay men have demonstrated in looking

after their sexual health, but there is still more to do.

“The continuing high rates of STIs in the inner-Sydney area remain concerning, especially

the significant increases in gonorrhoea observed over the last five years,” Ms Price said


A large proportion of STIs are being detected in gay men without any symptoms, which

reinforces the need for regular testing. Infectious syphilis and STIs in the throat and rectum

are particularly likely to be asymptomatic.


Associate Professor David Templeton, Senior Specialist, RPA Sexual Health Service said

regular STI testing and consistent condom use are key to reducing STIs among gay men.

”Swab and urine tests can be self-collected and we have effective, often single dose,

treatments for many STIs,” A/Prof Templeton said.


The revised guidelines align with the recent statewide ‘Ending HIV’ campaign, developed by

ACON and adopted by the NSW Ministry of Health, one of the key aims of which is to

increase HIV testing among gay men.


Conjoint Associate Professor Chris Bourne, Senior Specialist, Sydney Sexual Health Centre,

said it was timely to have the updated guidelines released to support the campaign, and that

the revised guidelines will go a long way in helping to combat increased rates of STIs and

HIV amongst gay men.

“Gay men are recommended to get tested for other STIs at the same time as they are being

tested for HIV, because many throat and rectal STIs, for example, do not have symptoms,”

A/Prof Bourne said.


The revised guidelines are endorsed by the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine,

Australasian Sexual Health Alliance, Australasian Chapter of Sexual Health Medicine of the

Royal Australasian College Of Physicians and are approved as an accepted clinical resource

by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, and can be downloaded at:




Sex in other Cities

Sex in other Cities

We’re barrelling towards the end of the year, and that means that Schoolies is just around the corner. What’s Schoolies?

Schoolies = finishing school

Schoolies = hanging with friends

Schoolies = ditching the parents

Schoolies = getting wasted

Schoolies = sex - and lots of it!

So it’s perfect timing to show you a new website aimed at School leavers - Sex in other Cities.

Pick your destination of choice, say, Bali and get the low-down on what’s going on for Schoolies, how to get there, fun stuff, how to get the most out of your party time, and what to do if things go wrong.

Bali Leavers Sex in other Citites website


Check out Sex in other Cities and be Safe for Schoolies