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NCHSR Newsletter

Issue 6, October–December 2012

National Centre in HIV Social Research  


Welcome to the fifth issue of NCHSR's 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

  • Australia Forum on Sexuality, Education and Health
  • Delivering on the promise of the HIV prevention revolution 
  • IDU and HIV among Malaysian fishermen
  • Barriers to sexual health testing among gay men
  • Australasian HIV/AIDS conference
  • Recent grant success
  • New Malaysian collaboration
  • Professor Seth Kalichman
  • Finding the needle in a haystack


Also Online

Australia Forum on Sexuality, Education and Health

The inaugural meeting of the Australia Forum on Sexuality, Education and Health (AFSEH) took place in Melbourne on Monday, 19 November. Altogether, over 60 teachers, researchers, program specialists and activists attended the event, representing well over 30 different academic institutions and community groups.

The Forum aims to break down boundaries in work on sexualities, education and health, and to provide opportunities for inter-disciplinary discussion and debate.

Delivering on the promise of the HIV prevention revolution

In 2012, we commemorate the first diagnosis of AIDS 30 years ago in Australia. A lot has changed since then.
For three decades now, we have had effective, community-based HIV prevention that continues to support a robust safe-sex culture. For a decade and a half, we have had effective combination antiretroviral treatment that has changed HIV from an acute, lethal infection to a chronic, manageable condition for those people who have continued access to the specialised drugs. At the same time, however, annual numbers of HIV diagnoses have continued to rise in Australia, from a low of 719 in 1999 to a high of 1,137 in 2011. Similar trends are seen in other high income countries and underscore the continued importance of effective HIV prevention.

IDU and HIV among Malaysian fishermen

The prevalence of HIV among fishermen in Malaysia is high and has been found to be related to injecting drug use. Understanding the reasons why fishermen use drugs is critical to programs aimed at reducing the incidence of HIV in this group. A study by Martin Choo*, researcher at the Centre of Excellence for Research in AIDS (CERiA) at the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, shows that injecting drug use (IDU) on fishing vessels serves a dual function. It enables fishermen to lighten heavy work as well as alleviate boredom between tasks. These findings suggest that to be fully effective, HIV prevention interventions in fishing communities should address the occupational functions of drug use. 

*The study is part of the PhD research by Martin Choo, co-supervised by Adeeba Kamarulzaman (University of Malaya, KL) and Philippe Adam (National Centre in HIV Social Research, The University of New South Wales).

Barriers to sexual health testing among gay men

Substantial numbers of gay men in Australia don’t test for HIV and STIs as frequently as recommended by testing guidelines. NCHSR was commissioned by the HIV/AIDS and Related Programs (HARP) Unit, South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, to research barriers to sexual health testing among gay men.

The online research conducted by Philippe Adam and colleagues brings novel insight into a comprehensive array of psychosocial barriers to sexual health testing among gay men. One key finding suggests that further promotion of testing among gay men would benefit from campaigns and interventions being tailored to the situation and specific needs of various groups of gay men, including those who never test and those who test irregularly. Programs should try to reduce the perception of HIV-related stigma that prevents some gay men from initiating routine HIV testing and thereby further strengthen supportive norms around STI testing.

According to Julia Purchas from the HARP Unit, "The findings from this research provide evidence for health promotion program planning that until now has not existed. It enables health promotion programs to take a more rigorous and targeted approach in developing campaigns and programs aimed at specific groups of gay men".

Australasian HIV/AIDS conference

NCHSR had a strong presence at this year’s Australasian HIV/AIDS Conference held in Melbourne during October.  Centre Director, Professor John de Wit launched our annual surveillance report the Annual Report of Trends in Behaviour on the first day of the conference; assisted with the launch of The Melbourne Declaration, a call to action to improve access to HIV testing, treatment and prevention in Australia; and discussed ways to enhance behavioural prevention in a special symposium on Australia’s HIV response.

Recent grant success

NCHSR has had considerable success with grants recently as have individual researchers Professor John de Wit, Professor Carla Treloar, Dr Martin Holt, Dr Asha Persson and Dr Christy Newman.

Dr Martin Holt and Professor John de Wit, chief investigators on a three-year project to investigate undiagnosed HIV infection among gay men, received an NHMRC grant. As people with undiagnosed HIV infection contribute disproportionately to HIV transmission in Australia, this study will deliver HIV testing to gay men in community settings, provide test results to consenting participants and estimate the prevalence of HIV and undiagnosed HIV infection. It will contribute significantly to reducing the number of undiagnosed HIV infections in Australia by providing strategic knowledge to guide HIV prevention programs. The project, led by NCHSR, is a collaboration with the Burnet Institute in Melbourne and The Kirby Institute at UNSW.

Annual Report of Trends in Behaviour 2012

This report is available online only from this year. To obtain a copy of our latest surveillance report, click here...


NCHSR e-Newsletters and e-Alerts will give you the latest information about our research projects, reports, seminars and events. Subscribe now... 

NCHSR research portal

The portal showcases those research projects conducted in collaboration with sector partners. It also enables participation in online surveys. Go to the NCHSR research portal... 

NCHSR website

This is the home of NCHSR at The University of New South Wales where you may read about our mission, values, staff, postgraduate students and extensive range of social and behavioural research. Here you will find downloadable copies of our research reports, including the Annual Report of Trends in Behaviour. Go to the NCHSR website... 

Contact us

If you have any queries about the articles in this newsletter or NCHSR, please contact Ann Whitelaw by telephoning +61 2 9385 6776 or by email to: 


Ms Judi Rainbow
Mr Terry Fairclough
Dr Philippe Adam




Latest News


New collaboration in Malaysia

NCHSR is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Philippe Adam, as Visiting Associate Professor by the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. This appointment will be pivotal to strengthening scientific collaboration between NCHSR and the Centre of Excellence for Research in AIDS (CERiA) under the directorship of Professor Adeeba bte Kamarulzaman. At CERiA, Philippe will contribute to strengthening social science research through the development of online and offline research as well as interventions.
*Congratulations Philippe and all the best for your new projects in Malaysia.

Professor Seth Kalichman

Professor Seth Kalichman from the University of Connecticut visited NCHSR to share with NCHSR colleagues his latest research and preview his presentation on the new era of HIV treatment as prevention for the opening plenary of the Australasian HIV/AIDS Conference in Melbourne on 17 October. In his special presentation at NCHSR, he spoke about the importance of effective behavioural interventions in the delivery of biomedical prevention technologies and how failure to deliver ART treatment within a behavioural framework will likely result in another biomedical technology falling short of its potential. Professor Kalichman is a leading behavioural scientist working in HIV/AIDS and in 2005 received the Distinguished Scientist Award from the Society for Behavioral Medicine.  

Finding the needle in the haystack

For those who could not attend the recent NSW NSP Workers Forum organised by ASHM, we are providing an encore performance of the plenary presentation given by Professor and Deputy Director, Carla Treloar, National Centre in HIV Social Research, entitled Finding the needle in the haystack: An overview of new social research. Click here for the audio and PowerPoint presentations... 


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