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HIV knowledge and sexual behaviour among people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds in NSW Australia: results from a NSW community – based survey 2012

HIV knowledge and sexual behaviour among people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds in NSW Australia: results from a NSW community – based survey 2012

Over the last decade, Australia has experienced a rise in new HIV diagnoses due to heterosexual transmission in people from CALD backgrounds. Yet there are no systems for assessing HIV knowledge and sexual risk behaviour in this population. We report the findings of a HIV community-based survey among people from CALD communities in NSW in 2012.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was undertaken at 12 community events in partnership with community organisations. We focused on events occurring at least annually (repeatable) and targeting Zimbabwe, Thailand, Ethiopia, South Africa, Cambodia and Sudan communities. These countries were selected as they contribute to high numbers of HIV notifications relative to their population size in NSW. We aimed to include 300 people aged 16 years and older from each community and similar numbers of males and females. Paper-based surveys were translated into 4 different community languages and were self-completed.

Results: A total of 1419 people participated; 46% were males, the median age was 30 years, and 18% spoke English as their first language. About three-quarters of participants correctly indicated HIV could be transmitted through sexual intercourse (76%), injecting (70%), and blood transfusion (67%), and less than half through birth (37%) or breast feeding (49%). There were some misconceptions about the modes of transmission, with 14% reporting HIV could be transmitted by sharing food and 15% by kissing. 39% of participants reported a non-steady sexual partner, of which only 27% reported condom use in the last 12 months. The main reasons for not using condoms with non-steady partners were: ‘difficult to bring up topic’ (39%), ‘condoms are unnatural’ (26%), ‘condoms make sex less enjoyable’ (24%), and ‘condoms were not available’ (22%). Differences in knowledge and sexual behaviour were observed across communities, and according to gender and age group.

Conclusions: The survey provides important information to inform health promotion initiatives and a baseline to evaluate the impact of such strategies.

Areas of Interest / Categories: AIDS 2015

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