ACON presents some SWASH findings at APSAD

ACON’s Alcohol and Other Drugs Program team presented some findings from SWASH (the Sydney Women and Sexual Health survey, which I help run), at the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs Conference in Hobart.

Great poster and so exciting to see the SWASH findings getting out there:

Have a look at ACON’s new web-based harm reduction campaign, Our Word of Mouth , or watch the first vid in the series below

Young Women’s Health Study Writing Retreat

I spent the second week in February at the Vine Retreat near Kep, in Cambodia. This was a very productive writing retreat for the members of the Young Women’s Health Study. It was wonderful to spend time with Kim Page, Ellen Stein, Marie-Claude Couture and Jennifer Evans, from the Centre for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California San Francisco; Tooru Nemoto from the Public Health Institute, California; Pisith Phlong from the Royal University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh; Melissa Cockcroft from the Cambodian Women’s Development Agency, Phnom Penh; and my old boss Lisa Maher from the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, University of New South Wales. We were a 20 minute drive (longer by tuk tuk!) from Kep, a seaside resort near the border with Vietnam. Kep used to be a very luxury resort town (1900-1960s) but has been a virtual ghost town during the Khmer Rouge years (things are picking up again with some stunning restaurants and crab shacks). Exciting things to see in Kep include the giant crab statue and the Lady of Kep (or White Lady) on the beach.

Young Women’s Health Study Cambodia article

Our paper on the Young Women’s Health Study (YHWS), in Cambodia, has just been accepted by the International Journal of Drug Policy. The qualitative anaysis explores amphetamine-type substance use and vulnerability to HIV/STI among young female sex workers.

Maher, L, Phlong, P, Mooney-Somers, J, Keo, S, Stein, E, Page, K. Amphetamine-type stimulant use and HIV/STI risk behaviour among young female sex workers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. International Journal of Drug Policy.

“Background: Use of amphetamine-type substances (ATS) has been linked to increased risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI) worldwide. In Cambodia, recent ATS use is independently associated with incident STI infection among young female sex workers (FSW). Methods: We conducted 33 in-depth interviews with women (15-29 years old) engaged in sex work to explore ATS use and vulnerability to HIV/STI. Results: Participants reported that ATS, primarily methamphetamine in pill and crystalline forms (yama), were cheap, widely available and commonly used. Yama was described as a “power drug” (thnam kamlang) which enabled women to work long hours and serve more customers. Use of ATS by clients was also common, with some providing drugs for women and/or encouraging their use, often resulting in prolonged sexual activity. Requests for unprotected sex were also more common among intoxicated clients and strategies typically employed to negotiate condom use were less effective. Conclusion: ATS use was highly functional for young women engaged in sex work, facilitating a sense of power and agency and highlighting the occupational significance and normalization of ATS in this setting. This highly gendered dynamic supports the limited but emerging literature on women’s use of ATS, which to date has been heavily focused on men. Results indicate an urgent need to increase awareness of the risks associated with ATS use, to provide women with alternative and sustainable options for income generation, to better regulate the conditions of sex work, and to work with FSWs and their clients to develop and promote culturally appropriate harm reduction interventions.”

Background on the study from the project leaders at the University of California, San Fransisco and the Cambodian research partners, National Centre for HIV, Dermatology and STI (NCHADS).

Other publications from the YWHS
Couture, M.-C., Sansothy, N., Sapphon, V., Phal, S., Sichan, K., Stein, E., et al. (2011). Young Women Engaged in Sex Work in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Have High Incidence of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections, and Amphetamine-Type Stimulant Use: New Challenges to HIV Prevention and Risk.. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 38(1), 33-39.

Growing Up with Cancer Melbourne

I’m in Melbourne tomorrow with the Growing Up with Cancer team to run a self portrait workshop at the CanTeen offices. We have 8 young people who have had a cancer diagnosis coming along to work with our artist (Kris Smith) to create a self portrait. The documentary team (Virus Media) are coming along to film the workshop and chat with some of the young people about their experiences (check out the promo video for the documentary below)

Papua New Guinea 2

A very successful few day in a beautiful report on the east coast of PNG (Tawali Resort). The training was a great success, and the feedback from participants very positive. I was delighted to hear they have so much qualitative research happening, and there is much interest in participatory methods. I learnt a lot about PNG from the participants, and about bioethics in HIV research from my colleagues Bridget, John and Rob. Hoping for a return visit! 

The VELiM/NCHECR team and the training participants