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A study about you and your experiences. 

This study by the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales is funded by NSW Health to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on Australian gay and bisexual men's ongoing risk of HIV and sexual and mental health.

ABOUT THE STUDY

Social distancing restrictions due to COVID-19 may affect how gay and bisexual men are arranging their sex lives and taking care of their health. And this will likely also affect trends in HIV infection and STIs over coming months, or even years. Monitoring the impact of COVID-19, before, during, and after the pandemic, is essential to understanding and responding to trends in HIV infection, mental health, and STIs.

This study investigating the lived experiences of COVID-19 among gay and bisexual men including isolation, support, mental health and resilience, income loss, and access to health services. We will address how gay and bisexual men experience, engage with, and emerge from, COVID-19.

What does participation in this research require? 

If you decide to take part in this study, we will ask you to do the following:

  1. Your first questionnaire: This questionnaire collects information about you and your previous experiences.

  2. Weekly diary: After completing the your first survey, you will be asked to complete a 5-minute diary each Sunday. 

What's in it for you? 

We value our participants! To show our appreciation, for every survey you complete, you’ll automatically go in a raffle to win prizes in the form of gift cards to the value of $200.

 

RESULTS - COVID-19

Over the life of the study we produce monthly reports to track the changes in gay and bisexual men's lives as they are impacted by COVID-19. This includes sexual behaviours and practices, mental health and resilience, social connection and health-seeking behaviours. Each of the reports will be accessible below as they become available.

Flux Study COVID-19 Diary Monthly Report 01 

Storer D on behalf of the Flux Study BRISE reference group

 

PARTICIPANT INFORMATION

1. What is the research study about?
The research study aims to investigate the experiences of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on trends in HIV and other sexually transmissible infections among gay and bisexual men.
The project will also explore lived experiences of COVID-19 among gay and bisexual men including isolation, support, mental health and resilience, income loss, and access to health services. We will address how gay and bisexual men experience, engage with, and emerge from, COVID-19-induced social, economic and behavioural change. 
This project will:
  • Measure the extent of and identify factors for the impact of COVID-19 on sexual, drug using, and health-seeking behaviours and social connectedness among gay and bisexual men.
  • Measure the impact of COVID-19 on pre-existing epidemics among gay and bisexual men.
2. Who is conducting this research?
The study is being conducted by The Kirby Institute for infection and immunity in society. The study has been designed with the active participation of gay community and HIV organisations. The study is being carried out by the following researchers:
Lead Investigator: 
  • Associate Professor Garrett Prestage, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney.
Coordinating Chief Investigator: 
  • Dr Mohamed A. Hammoud, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney.
Co-chief Investigators
  • Professor Lisa Maher, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney.
  • Dr Bridget Haire, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney.
  • Associate Professor Adam Bourne, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University.
  • Professor Louisa Degenhardt, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), UNSW Sydney.
  • Dr Toby Lea, Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW Sydney.
  • Dr Jeff Jin, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney.
  • Dr Peter Saxton, Department of Social and Community Health, School of Population Health, University of Auckland.
  • Professor Martin Holt, Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW Sydney.
  • Professor Andrew Grulich, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney.
  • Dr Benjamin Bavinton, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney.
  • Dr Dean Murphy, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney.
Associate Investigators:
  • Dr Jeanne Ellard, AFAO.
  • Nicky Bath, National LGBTI Health Alliance.
  • Brent Mackie, ACON.
  • Colin Batrouney, Thorne Harbour Health.
Study Team: 
  • Daniel Storer, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney.
This research is being funded by the Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney.
3. What are the inclusion and exclusion criteria? 
Before you decide to participate in this research project, we need to ensure that it is ok for you to take part. The research study is looking to recruit people who meet the following criteria:
  • Age 16 years or older.
  • Cisgender male, transman, intersex male.
  • Self-identify as gay or bisexual or otherwise same-sex attracted or had sex with another man in the preceding 12 months.
  • Currently living in Australia.
  • Ability to provide consent to participate in the study.
 
Exclusion criteria for those who are not eligible to participate in the study includes:
  • Under 16 years of age.
  • Not living in Australia.
We are interested in enrolling a broad cross section of men who have sex with men, and all men who meet the criteria above are welcome to participate in the study.
4. Do I have to take part in this research study?
Participation in any research project is voluntary. If you do not want to take part, you do not have to. If you decide to take part and later change your mind, you are free to withdraw from the project at any stage.
If you decide you want to take part in the research study, you will be asked to:
  • Read the information carefully (ask questions if necessary);
  • If you would like to participate, sign the consent form and;
  • Save a copy of the consent form. 
 
5. What does participation in this research require, and are there any risks involved?
If you decide to take part in the research study, we will ask you to complete the following tasks:
Completion of an Online Questionnaire
The research team will ask you to complete an online baseline questionnaire, which will take up to 30 minutes to complete and will collect: demographic characteristics, HIV and STI testing, drug use, mental health, sexual behaviour, and social connectedness.. COVID-19 specific items will include: SARS-Cov2 testing, social distancing practices, COVID-19 knowledge and beliefs, and changes in circumstances and behaviour due to COVID-19.
 
Biannual questionnaires: Every 6 months, you will be asked to complete a follow-up online questionnaire, which will take up to 20 minutes to complete.
Weekly diary: Participants who consent to participation in the weekly diary will each week receive an invitation to complete a brief questionnaire measuring HIV sexual risk behaviour, HIV treatment and prevention, illicit drug use, social connectedness, and mental health. This weekly questionnaire will take about 5 minutes to complete, but is not a requirement for participation in the study and run for 6-months. At the conclusion of each 6-monthly follow-up period, we will reassess whether there remains a need for the weekly diary, and if it is decided to continue this component of the study, participants will be again asked for their consent at that time. This brief survey will enable us to measure changes in behaviours against the rapid changes in social distancing regulations as they are enforced, or relaxed.
 
You are free to withdraw from the research at any time. If you withdraw from the research we will not collect additional information from you and we will destroy any identifying information that has already been collected.
 
Optional Participant for an In-Depth Interview
Consenting participants will be invited to be interviewed in depth. This interview will be conducted confidentially, by phone or online. This interview will be conducted by a trained interviewer, recorded for accuracy, and then transcribed for analysis. All recordings will be destroyed upon transcription. This interview should take 90 minutes on average, and will NOT be required for participation in the online cohort. No identifying details from the interview will be used in results or reporting of this study.
 
You are free to stop the interview at any time. If you withdraw from the research we will destroy any information that has already been collected.
 
We do not expect completion of the online questionnaires or the questions asked during the in-depth interview to cause any harm or discomfort. However, if you experience feelings of distress as a result of participation in this study you can let the research team know and they will provide you with assistance. Alternatively, lists of services are provided in the contact details below to assist you if necessary.
 
6. What are the possible benefits to participation?
Information from this research study will enable us to monitor changes in relevant behaviours and circumstances before, during, and after the initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and their potential impact on HIV and STI epidemiological trends, among gay and bisexual men. Data collected by this project will position Australia to rapidly respond to community needs and potential changes in the epidemiology of HIV and other STIs and will inform efforts by government, community and clinical partners to respond to COVID-19 impacts in Australia.
 
Data collected will assist in addressing and understanding a pivotal aspect of the pandemic: how social distancing requirements due to COVID-19 will impact sexual and other relevant behaviours and social connectedness among gay and bisexual men to inform a better understanding of HIV and other STI epidemiological trends during and following the pandemic.
 
Outcomes include social, economic and behavioural data on the impacts of COVID-19 on gay and bisexual men, important lessons about how policy responses may affect behaviours that may underlie observed increases or decreases in HIV and STI trends, and evidence to inform the development of strategies for future pandemic prevention and management.
 
This project will produce vital social, economic and behavioural data on the impacts of COVID-19 on gay and bisexual men nationwide. Understanding the impacts on, and the needs and experiences of, gay and bisexual men over the coming 12 months will be vital to the post-pandemic transition and understanding ongoing epidemiological trends in HIV and other STIs.
7. What will happen to information about me?
Your confidentiality will be maintained at all times and no identifying details will be linked to your responses. At consent, you will be provided with a study identification number that will be used in place of your identifying information. By signing the consent form you consent to the research team collecting and using information about you for the research study. We will keep your data for 7 years.
 
All data will be securely saved and is compliant and certified under both the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield and Swiss-US Privacy Shield. All electronic databases will be protected by password and UNSW Sydney firewalls.
Your information will only be used to contact you to complete a questionnaire and is sent from an external database, separate to your responses.
8. How and when will I find out what the results of the research study are?
The research team intend to publish and/ report the results of the research study in a variety of ways. All information published will be done in a way that will not identify you.
 
Results are disseminated through published reports, journal articles, conference presentations, local workshops, community newspaper / magazine articles, and consultations to professional organisations. The data will also be presented in other media formats if these become available. In whatever format these data are presented, confidentiality will always be protected as outlined.
Findings will be made available to participants in the same manner as outlined above. Participants are provided this information and how they can access reports of findings on the information sheet. Also reports of findings will be publicised on the Kirby Institute website.
  • Participants can choose to like the study page. (participants hidden from each other)
  • Updates on latest publications
  • Opt in for half-yearly newsletters
  • Study website detailing all peer-reviewed publications, conference, and community presentations
 
9. What if I want to withdraw from the research study?
If you do consent to participate, you may withdraw at any time. You can do so by completing the ‘Withdrawal of Consent Form’ which is provided at the end of this document. Alternatively, you can ring the research team and tell them you no longer want to participate.  If you decide to leave the research study, the researchers will not collect additional information from you.  Your decision not to participate will not affect your relationship with UNSW Australia.
10. What should I do if I have further questions about my involvement in the research study?
The person you may need to contact will depend on the nature of your query. If you want any further information concerning this project or if you have any problems which may be related to your involvement in the project, you can contact the following member/s of the research team:
12. Support Services Contact Details
The researchers anticipate no discomforts/harms to our participants. In the unlikely event that completing this survey should suffer any distress, there will be a page on the study website and within the online survey or diary entry which will offer you contact details for appropriate organisations offering free counselling, information and advice on all topics covered by this survey, should you wish to speak with someone about the feelings or thoughts they may be having or related to any adverse responses they are experiencing. The study team consists of experienced research staff familiar with the study population who are well-placed to assist participants who may be undergoing psychological stress and who utilise our established network of formal referral mechanisms.
 
If at any stage during the project you become distressed or require additional support from someone not involved in the research, please call:
Name: Associate Professor Garrett Prestage
Position: Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney
Telephone: (02) 9385 0939
What if I have a complaint or any concerns about the research study?
If you have any complaints about any aspect of the project, the way it is being conducted, then you may contact:
Position: Human Research Ethics Coordinator
Telephone: (02) 9385 6222
Email: humanethics@unsw.edu.au 
HC Reference Number: HC200286
Looking for more information? 
If you'd like more information, send an email to heppadmin@kirby.unsw.edu.au
 
 

PUBLICATIONS & PRESENTATIONS

Peer-reviewed publications
Physical distancing due to COVID-19 disrupts sexual behaviours among gay and bisexual men in Australia: Implications for trends in HIV and other sexually transmissible infections

Hammoud MA, Maher L, Holt M, Degenhardt L, Jin J, Murphy D, Bavinton B, Grulich A, Lea T, Haire B, Bourne A, Saxton P, Vaccher S, Ellard J, Mackie B, Batrouney C, Bath N, Prestage G.

Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. 2020 July.

Prevalence, frequency, and motivations for alkyl nitrite use among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men in Australia

Vaccher SJ, Hammoud MA, Bourne A, Lea T, Haire BG, Holt M, Saxton P, Mackie B, Badge J, Jin F, Maher L, Prestage G.
International Journal of Drug Policy. 2020 Feb 1;76:102659.

Attitudes and willingness to donate blood among gay and bisexual men in Australia

Clackett S, Seed CR, Prestage G, Hammoud MA, Hoad V, Saxton P, Haire B, Holt M, Jin F, Bourne A, Maher L.

Transfusion. 2020.

Biomedical HIV Protection Among Gay and Bisexual Men Who Use Crystal Methamphetamine

Hammoud MA, Jin F, Maher L, Bourne A, Haire B, Saxton P, Vaccher S, Lea T, Degenhardt L, Prestage G.

AIDS and Behavior. 2019.
 

Gay and Bisexual Men’s Perceptions of Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) in a Context of High Accessibility: An Australian Qualitative Study

Philpot S, Prestage G, Holt M, Haire B, Maher L, Hammoud M, Bourne A.

AIDS and Behavior. 2020.

Use of HIV Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Associated With Lower HIV Anxiety Among Gay and Bisexual Men in Australia Who Are at High Risk of HIV Infection
Results From the Flux Study

Keen P, Hammoud MA, Bourne A, Bavinton BR, Holt M, Vaccher S, Haire B, Saxton P, Jin F, Maher L, Grulich AE.

JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. 2020.

HIV Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Uptake Among Gay and Bisexual Men in Australia and Factors Associated With the Nonuse of PrEP Among Eligible Men

Hammoud MA, Vaccher S, Jin F, Bourne A, Maher L, Holt M, Bavinton BR, Haire B, Degenhardt L, Grulich A, Prestage GP.
JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. 2019.

Attitudes and Perceived Social Norms toward Drug Use among Gay and Bisexual Men in Australia

Lea T, Hammoud M, Bourne A, Maher L, Jin F, Haire B, Bath N, Grierson J, Prestage G. Substance Use & Misuse. 2019. 

Changes in Behavior After PrEP Initiation Among Australian Gay and Bisexual Men

Prestage G, Maher L, Grulich A, Bourne A, Hammoud M, Vaccher S, Bavinton B, Holt M, Jin F. Brief report: changes in behavior after PrEP initiation among Australian gay and bisexual men.

JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. 2019.
 

Mental health, drug use and sexual risk behavior among gay and bisexual men

Prestage G, Hammoud M, Jin F, Degenhardt L, Bourne A, Maher L.

International Journal of Drug Policy. 2018.

The new MTV generation: Using methamphetamine, Truvada™, and Viagra™ to enhance sex and stay safe

Hammoud MA, Vaccher S, Jin F, Bourne A, Haire B, Maher L, Lea T, Prestage G. 

International journal of drug policy. 2018.

Age-related prevalence and twelve-month incidence of illicit drug use in a cohort of Australian gay and bisexual men: Results from the Flux Study

Jin F, Hammoud MA, Maher L, Degenhardt L, Bourne A, Lea T, Vaccher S, Grierson J, Haire B, Prestage GP. 

Drug and alcohol dependence. 2018.

Intensive sex partying with gamma-hydroxybutyrate: Factors associated with using gamma-hydroxybutyrate for chemsex among Australian gay and bisexual men

Hammoud MA, Bourne A, Maher L, Jin F, Haire B, Lea T, Degenhardt L, Grierson J, Prestage G.

Sexual health. 2018.

Prevalence and correlates of recent injecting drug use among gay and bisexual men in Australia

Bui H, Zablotska-Manos I, Hammoud M, Jin F, Lea T, Bourne A, Iversen J, Bath N, Grierson J, Degenhardt L, Prestage G.

International Journal of Drug Policy. 2018.

Off-Label Use of Phosphodiesterase Type 5 Inhibitor Erectile Dysfunction Medication to Enhance Sex Among Gay and Bisexual Men in Australia

Hammoud MA, Jin F, Lea T, Maher L, Grierson J, Prestage G.

The journal of sexual medicine. 2017.

Measuring drug use sensation-seeking among Australian gay and bisexual men

Prestage G, Hammoud M, Lea T, Jin F, Maher L.

International Journal of Drug Policy. 2017.

Following Lives Undergoing Change (Flux) study: Implementation and baseline prevalence of drug use in an online cohort study of gay and bisexual men in Australia

Hammoud MA, Jin F, Degenhardt L, Lea T, Maher L, Grierson J, Mackie B, Pastorelli M, Batrouney C, Bath N, Bradley J, Prestage G.  

International Journal of Drug Policy. 2017.

PhD theses using Flux data

Emerging practices and the potential to change HIV epidemiological trends:
Pre-exposure prophylaxis as biomedical HIV prevention among gay and bisexual men who participate in chemsex

Dr Mohamed A. Hammoud.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Garrett Prestage and Dr Jeff (Fengyi) Jin.

Kirby Institute, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW Sydney. 2020.

Epidemiology of HIV among men who have sex with men in Hanoi, Vietnam: prevalence, associated factors and engagement in HIV testing and treatment

Dr Hao Thu Minh

Supervisors: Professor Lisa Maher.

Kirby Institute, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW Sydney. 2020.

Studying with Flux

Are you interested in doing a Masters degree or PhD with Flux? Send an email to

Dr Mohamed A. Hammoud (mhammoud@kirby.unsw.edu.au) with your proposal and let's see if we can work something out.

Presentations

Kirby Institute Seminar Series

Impacts of COVID-19 on gay and bisexual men in Australia: Changes in sexual behaviour, PrEP and mental health

Prestage G, Hammoud MA, Philpot S.

 

 

 

 

 

International AIDS Conference 2020, Virtual

Impact of social distancing due to COVID-19 on sexual behaviour among gay and bisexual men in Australia: Implications for trends in HIV and other sexually transmissible infections

Hammoud MA, Grulich A, Maher L, Degenhardt L, Jin F, Murphy D, Bavinton B, Lea T, Haire B, Bourne A, Saxton P, Vaccher S, Ellard J, Mackie B, Batrouney C, Bath N, Prestage G.

Media

QNews

Aussie men report less casual sex during COVID-19

July 30 2020

​Well, Well , Well, Joy 94.9

Men in Flux and Mask Requirements

July 23 2020​

National AIDS Treatment Advocacy Project

With COVID here, 90% of Australian MSM have less sex, 40% stop PrEP

July 15 2020

American Journal of Managed Care

PrEP use has changed following implementation of social distancing

July 13 2020

aidsmap

COVID-19 has had a major impact on PrEP, sexual behaviour and service provision

July 9 2020

National AIDS Treatment Advocacy Project

One third in US stopped PrEP during COVID shutdown, 90% trimmed HIV risk

July 9 2020

CONTACT

  • Twitter
  • Facebook

For general questions and further information about the study,
please email us at: heppadmin@kirby.unsw.edu.au 

Collaboration and Media contact:

​Dr Mohamed A. Hammoud

t: +61 2 9385 9954 | e: mhammoud@kirby.unsw.edu.au

 

© 2020