The MHAHS is launching a social media campaign on PrEP to raise awareness and reduce HIV infections among people from diverse backgrounds.

The campaign will focus on PrEP as an effective method of HIV prevention.

"The PrEP campaign is an important initiative in our ongoing effort against HIV," said Barbara Luisi, manager of the MHAHS.

 “We need people to know their HIV status, and what they can do to prevent HIV.”

The PrEP Social Media campaign is designed to encourage individuals at risk of HIV to consider PrEP, or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, as a method of HIV prevention. PrEP is a daily pill that protects you from HIV infection. Since 1 April this year PrEP has been  available from pharmacies with a doctor’s prescription. PrEP is up to 99 percent effective in preventing HIV infection.

Click here for more information on PrEP in different languages.

The MHAHS is urging gay men from Asian backgrounds to participate in the Gay Asian Men’s Survey (GAYAMS) that collects information from men on HIV and sexual health, sexual practices, relationships and other behaviours.

The survey findings are an important source of data on issues affecting the well being of gay Asian men, according to ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill.

“Overseas-born gay men, particularly from Asian backgrounds, continue to face barriers to appropriate HIV prevention messaging, treatment and care,” Parkhill said. “Recent HIV data from NSW Health has indicated HIV notifications among overseas-born gay and homosexually active men have not seen similar rates of decline as experienced by Australian-born gay men,” said Mr Parkhill.

MHAHS manager, Barbara Luisi acknowledges the challenge of recruiting people from diverse backgrounds to participate in the survey but is confident that people respond when approached appropriately.

"The lack of participation is often due to lack of cultural sensitivity or lack of effort to include people from diverse backgrounds. The use of multilingual tools to engage with Asian gay men is an important step in overcoming language barriers. We applaud this effort and are confident it will bear the right results over time,” Ms Luisi said.

“MHAHS urges gay Asian men to participate in the survey, so more effective HIV and sexual health resources and programs can be tailored for this diverse group.”

Running from March to June, GAYAMS will target men aged 18 years and older, who have had sex with other men in the past five years, are currently living in NSW, and self-identifying as having an Asian background.

The survey will be conducted at selected venues around Sydney and is available in five languages including English, Chinese (simplified), Thai, Vietnamese and Bahasa Indonesia. It can also be completed online at www.gayams.org.au

GAYAMS is conducted in partnership by the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Gay Men’s Action Group, which consists of ACON, the University of NSW’s Centre for Social Research in Health, Sydney Metro Local Health Districts, and the Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service.

The MHAHS is undertaking a major re-design of its internal flagship newsletter, the MHAHS News. Set to come into effect in time for the Winter 2018 edition, the new MHAHS News will incorporate a new layout that is more accessible and can carry a variety of online editorial content than before.

The major re-design – the first since its inception in the mid 1990s – comes off the back of numerous MHAHS attempt’s to keep the publication relevant and useful to its workforce. While overall the responses to the publication has been positive, new technologies and new opportunities for even more engagement with the staff is a key factor behind the change.

There will a strong emphasis on producing editions that will provide content that is relevant and useful to our Cultural Support Officers (CSOs), according to MHAHS News editor, Riza Yaman.

“While it is important that the look and feel of our new publication reflects the changing times, the changes that we will make will also put the needs of our CSOs first and help keep our communications open for further engagements,” said Mr Yaman.

The new newsletter will be built on the popular email newsletter building platform MailChimp and will be easier to send and evaluate.

The newsletter had been an important channel of communication for over two decades for the MHAHS.

MHAHS News has carried many kinds of news over the years. It has carried the messages of various MHAHS managers, the arrivals and departures of numerous CSOs across a range of language groups, research and community events. And who can forget the often courageous and personal stories shared by our CSOs. We hope our future editions will only enhance the availability of these elements and make them more accessible,” said Mr Yaman.
The MHAHS and Art Resistance, are teaming up once again for a hepatitis C video series. Aimed at supporting Hepatitis Awareness Week in July this year, the new venture is part of the broader NSW Health Viral Hepatitis Communication Strategy, and will include stories of people from diverse cultural backgrounds who have undergone hepatitis C treatment.

The joint venture will be the team’s first outing since co-producing the highly successful video on HIV and hepatitis C Everybody’s Business almost 10 years ago.

Everybody’s Business was a very important HIV and hepatitis C education resource in Australia, particularly for culturally diverse communities, according to Denise Voros.

Everybody’s Business was a staple education resource for community HIV and hepatitis C workers across much of Australia in the early 2000s. The videos were well received and were praised for their clarity, simplicity, cultural appropriateness and above all for their humour and liveliness. The resource was adaptable that made it easy for people to discuss what is an otherwise difficult topic,” said Ms Voros.

Produced in English, Indonesian, Khmer, Somali, Thai, Arabic, Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese languages, the innovative resource won the Government Category of the 1999 Ethnic Affairs Multicultural Marketing Award.

Here is hoping for another memorable outing.