When it comes to the perceptions of HIV and other STI’s, there are many cultural differences between Australia and Indonesia. The large number of HIV positive cases in Indonesia can be an indicator of how the perception of sexual health impacts risky behaviour that results in STIs and HIV.
As of 2021, there was an estimated 27,000 new cases of HIV in Indonesia. In Australia, there were less than 1000 new cases. When it comes to sex, sexuality, and sexual health Australia is more open about discussing sensitive topics. In Australian schools, children are taught sexual education from a young age, beginning with age-appropriate information about the human body and its functions. As children become older, they are provided with information in high school about safe sex and prevention of STI’s. This year, a bill proposing the inclusion of consent in sexual education classes was passed in Australia and will be implemented in 2023. Although Australian children are given some guidance, school sex education is not fully comprehensive and focuses only on heterosexual penetrative sex.
These topics are not as taboo in Australian society and The Australian government have made it illegal to discriminate against someone due to their health status, which includes having HIV. At Sydney Mardi Gras, the significant theme is HIV AIDS to address the disease.
By the end of 2020, Australia was estimated to have 29,090 people living with HIV with an estimated 2,610 unaware of their status. From this, 44% of new HIV cases were diagnosed late. In Australia, 90% of people with HIV have been diagnosed, and from that 90% have received treatment and another 90% have an undetectable viral load. Most transmission of HIV in Australia tens to occur when one partner is infected but does not know and 58% of cases in 2020 were MSM, 24% of cases identify as heterosexual.
To access PrEP in Australia, residents who have access to Medicare (Australia’s health care) can access one month of prep for the subsidised price of $20 AUD. For those who cannot access Medicare, it is $260 AUD for one month. This is usually obtained with a prescription from your doctor or a sexual health clinic. It should be noted that Medicare is only available to Australia citizens which means many immigrants are forced to pay the full, unsubsidised rate
When trying to access PrEP, doctors will test patient’s HIV status as well as their status of other STI’s, and kidney problems. They will then speak with the patient about their sexual activity and explain the possible side effects of PrEP. Patients can then receive their PrEP prescription and will need to regularly visit their doctor and continue having HIV & STI tests every 3 months.
Although Australia’s national sex education has resulted in lower rates of HIV and other STI’s, there is still progress to be made in making sexual health education more inclusive for LGBT students.
Written by Kezia McCarthy