13 Sept 2021

Wins for the work and innovations of sexual health researchers

The MSHC team members L-R: Prof Kit Fairley, A/Prof Eric Chow,
Prof Marcus Chen, Prof Catriona Bradshaw; lower row L-R:
A/Prof Lei Zhang, Prof Deborah Williamson, Prof Jane Hocking

Melbourne Sexual Health Centre researchers won individual and team awards at the 2021 Joint Australasian Sexual Health + HIV&AIDS Conference.

Congratulations to Associate Professor Eric Chow  for winning the Best Poster Award at the Sexual Health+HIV&AIDS conference! His poster is about spatial mapping of gonorrhoea notifications by sexual practice in Victoria.

Congratulations also to the team at Melbourne Sexual Health Centre (MSHC), as part of the Melbourne Collaborative Group, which has won the 2021 Australasian Sexual and Reproductive Health Alliance Innovation Award. See detail below.

Eric Chow's Poster Award

Title: Spatial mapping of gonorrhoea notifications by sexual practice in Victoria, Australia, 2017-2019

In Australia, gonorrhoea had primarily affected men who have sex with men but rises in gonorrhoea among heterosexuals in urban Australian cities have occurred for the first time in decades, signalling a breakdown in gonorrhoea control. National surveillance data only report cases by gender (males vs females) but not by sexual orientation. We partnered with the Victorian Department of Health and obtained gonorrhoea notification data between 2017 and 2019, and have mapped 24,825 gonorrhoea cases by Victoria local government area and by sexual orientation. Our results show infections in gay men were concentrated in inner metropolitan Melbourne suburbs; however, cases in females and heterosexual males were concentrated in both inner and outer Melbourne suburbs. This pattern is similar to the geographical patterns of syphilis notification. Scaling up health promotion, sexual health training for GPs and increasing access to testing and treatment are required in these affected areas.

MSHC Innovation Award

This award recognises the work from the Melbourne Collaborative Group on reducing STIs transmission and discovering novel interventions and treatment for STI controls.

1. First to identify tongue-kissing and saliva use as risk factors for gonorrhoea (PMID 31073095).
2. First to investigate whether mouthwash could prevent and treat oropharyngeal gonorrhoea (PMID 33676595).
3. First in Australia to integrate whole-genome sequencing data and comprehensive individual-level behavioural risk data to verify the transmission of gonorrhoea between risk populations (PMID 31488838).
4. Conducted first trial that provided robust evidence that doxycycline must replace azithromycin for rectal chlamydia (PMID 34161706).
5. Understanding syphilis transmission.
6. New resistance-guided treatment strategies for Mycoplasma genitalium (improved first-line cure from 50% to >90%) have changed national (ASRHA) and international (UK BASHH; US CDC) clinical practice and guidelines.

The Innovation award was announced on the first day (6 September) of the 2021 Joint Australasian Sexual Health + HIV&AIDS Conference. The MSHC team members include A/Prof Eric Chow, Prof Kit Fairley, Prof Marcus Chen, Prof Catriona Bradshaw and A/Prof Lei Zhang. Other team members were Prof Deborah Williamson and Prof Jane Hocking.


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