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NCHSR Newsletter

Issue 2, October - December 2011

National Centre in HIV Social Research  


Welcome to the second issue of NCHSR's new quarterly e-Newsletter, which brings you the latest information about our current research projects, reports and events. In addition to disseminating study results, we are hoping that the newsletter will stimulate discussion about ways the sector can translate social science research into policy and practice.

You are cordially invited to subscribe to this newsletter and occasional e-alerts which will announce new NCHSR publications and upcoming seminars. - Prof John de Wit

In this Newsletter

  • PrEP study results
  • Hepatitis C treatment in opiate substitution settings
  • Making Disease, Making Citizens: The Politics of Hepatitis C
  • Latest NCHSR news


Gay men and HIV PrEP: who would use it and would it help?

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) involves the prescription of antiretroviral drugs to HIV-negative people to reduce the chance of HIV infection. In the last two years, three international trials of PrEP have found efficacy levels ranging from 44% to 73%. Better efficacy was found among people who adhered closely to the prescribed pill regime (usually a pill a day).

These landmark trial results have led the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to publish interim prescription and monitoring guidelines for PrEP use among men who have sex with men (MSM) in the U.S., and doctors are now prescribing PrEP to gay and bisexual men who are willing to use it and whose practices put them at risk of HIV.

In Australia, there has been a slower response to PrEP, and no moves so far to make it available to gay and bisexual men, the primary affected group by HIV in Australia. However, questions remain about interest in using PrEP among Australian gay and bisexual men: whether there are particular men who would benefit from PrEP, and what the impact of PrEP might be on current safe-sex practices.

The PrEPARE Project led by Dr Martin Holt of the National Centre in HIV Social Research together with the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, set out to answer these and other related questions.

Hepatitis C treatment in opiate substitution settings

The hepatitis C virus epidemic is a significant public health challenge in Australia and the burden of disease is increasing. In Australia, as elsewhere in the developed world, the primary risk factor for contracting HCV is injecting drug use (IDU). With over 200,000 Australians living with chronic hepatitis C national health policy currently targets a doubling of treatment uptake to ameliorate the looming healthcare burden of end-stage liver disease and transplantation.

Although treatment has improved substantially in recent years it is still widely regarded as a physically and psychologically arduous and exacting regime lasting up to 12 months in duration. Typically provided via a hospital-based specialist within a dedicated multidisciplinary team the low rates of treatment uptake have led to a growing interest worldwide in the provision of care and treatment within opiate substitution treatment (OST) programs (‘methadone clinics’). A high proportion of people attending clinics for opiate substitution treatment are known to be living with chronic hepatitis C.

Researchers at the National Centre in HIV Social Research (NCHSR) have been collaborating on a project led by The Kirby Institute to examine the feasibility of delivering hepatitis C treatment in these settings.

Making Disease, Making Citizens: The Politics of Hepatitis C

November sees the publication of a major book co-authored by NCHSR Adjunct Associate Professor Suzanne Fraser and Dr Kate Seear of Monash University. Making Disease, Making Citizens: The Politics of Hepatitis C is a key outcome of an ARC Discovery Project led by Assoc Prof Suzanne Fraser, Professor Carla Treloar (NCHSR) and Professor David Moore (NDRI, Curtin University).

This is the first book-length social science analysis of hepatitis C. Works of this kind are common in other fields, such as HIV, where books by the likes of Denis Altman, Gary Dowsett and Paula Treichler have contributed enormously to understandings of HIV and sexuality, medicalisation, treatment regimes and gay culture and sociality. Assoc Prof Fraser and Dr Seear felt that a work of equivalent scale and ambition on hepatitis C was sorely needed. 



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NCHSR Research Portal

The NCHSR research portal showcases online research projects conducted in collaboration with sector partners. It also acts as a gateway to participating in online surveys.
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NCHSR Website

The NCHSR website is the home of information about our mission, values, staff, students and extensive range of social and behavioural research work. Here you will find downloadable copies of our research reports, including the Annual Report of Trends in Behaviour. Go to the NCHSR website...


NCHSR Conference 2012

Join us for the 12th Social Research Conference on HIV, hepatitis C and related diseases: "silence&articulation", to be held on 12-13 April 2012.  Register now...


Contact Us

If you have any queries about this newsletter, NCHSR or our work, please contact Ann Whitlaw by telephoning
+61 2 9385 6776 or by email to



Dr Philippe Adam                              Mr Terry Fairclough
Ms Judi Rainbow


Latest News


Annual Report of Trends in Behaviour 2011

The Annual Report of Trends in Behaviour was launched on Tuesday 27 September at this year's  Australasian HIV/AIDS Conference. This Report and other NCHSR reports are available to download from the NCHSR website. Go to the NCHSR publications webpage...



NCHSR invites you to the 12th Social Research Conference on HIV, Hepatitis C and Related Diseases to be held 12-13 April 2012 at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. The conference theme is 'silence&articulation' which will address how society understands and approaches stigmatised illnesses, sexualities and illicit drug use, and the problematic nature of evidence, knowledge and facts in these discourses.  Read more...


NCHSR researchers awarded NHMRC grants

Two NCHSR researchers have been awarded National Health and Medical Research Council  Grants: Director Prof John de Wit for a study titled 'Improving antiretroviral treatment initiation for people living with HIV in Australia: a realistic and feasible approach?' and Deputy Director Prof Carla Treloar for research on 'Understanding and preventing hepatitis C transmission within sexual partnerships'. Read more... 


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