Sexual Health

We’re here to help LGBTI people take control of their sexual health by providing information, workshops, a range of support services and distributing hundreds of thousands of condoms every year throughout NSW.

Gay & Same Sex Attracted Men

Gay Men’s Sexual Health Basics

DramaDownUnder

Sexually transmissible infections (STIs) are infections that are transmitted during sex through body contact or the exchange of body fluids (i.e. blood, mucus or saliva). Sexual contact includes vaginal or anal intercourse or touching, fingering or sucking/kissing/licking a penis, vagina or anus.

STIs can be caused by viruses (e.g. HIV, herpes, genital warts), bacteria (e.g. chlamydia, gonorrhoea), or parasites (e.g. crabs, scabies).

If you manage your sexual health and play it safe you can significantly reduce your risk of getting an STI, or passing it on to a sexual partner.

Infection rates for some STIs – such as HIV, gonorrhoea and syphilis – are much higher among gay men than in the general population.

The best way to prevent HIV transmission among men is to have safe sex by using a condom and water based lubricant for anal sex.

Using condoms can also help prevent the transmission of some other STIs, but not all STIs.

The Drama Down Under website provides information about some of the most common STIs experienced by gay men (HIV-positive or HIV-negative). The site also has information for gay men about testing for and treating STIs.

 

HIV Prevention Basics

whodoesHIVeffect

While condoms remain the most effective means of preventing HIV transmission, other useful methods are also available.

Condoms & Lube

Condoms prevent or reduce the exchange of semen, vaginal fluid or blood between partners during sex. When used with lube, condoms are a highly effective way to ‘stay safe’ and prevent HIV transmission.

Condoms also offer protection against a range of other sexually transmissible infections (STIs). They do this by preventing the transfer of bodily fluids or by covering affected genital areas.

Find out more about using condoms and staying safe

Risk Reduction Strategies

In addition to the use of condoms and lube, there are a range of other strategies that reduce, but don’t eliminate, the risk of HIV transmission.

These strategies include: ensuring HIV-negative partners are insertive (i.e. the ‘top’); ensuring partners have the same HIV status (i.e. pos-pos or neg-neg); and ensuring HIV-positive partners have an undetectable viral load. All these strategies carry risks that vary according to practice and circumstance.

Find out more about risk reduction strategies

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is a month-long course of HIV drugs that you can take very soon after sex which had a risk of HIV transmission – and definitely within 72 hours. The drugs are the same ones taken by people with HIV.

If you think you’ve been exposed to HIV, call the 24-hour PEP Hotline as soon as possible – 1800 PEP NOW or 1800 737 669 (inside NSW). Staff on the Hotline will help you find out if you’re eligible for PEP and where you can get it.

You can get PEP from hospital accident and emergency departments, sexual health clinics or doctors who specialise in HIV.

Find out more about PEP

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is the use of HIV medication to keep HIV negative people from contracting HIV. Taking PrEP on a daily basis will ensure that you have enough of the medication in your body to prevent you from becoming infected with HIV if you are exposed.

PrEP offers a high degree of protection, but it’s not 100% effective. Also, PrEP doesn’t prevent the transmission of other STIs, which can, in turn, increase the possibility of HIV infection. As such, people who are using PrEP should consider maintaining condom use, particularly for casual partners.

PrEP is not currently approved for use in Australia, although since mid-2014, it became available in a limited way through research projects in some states including NSW.

Find out more about PrEP

Gay Friendly GPs

Friendly GP

When it comes to sexual health, lots of gay men like to speak with a supportive doctor who understands the ins and outs of gay sex.

Download a full list of Gay Friendly GPs here

 

Workshops For Gay Men

We offer a range of FREE workshops for same sex attracted men (gay, bisexual, or curious).

Participating in a workshop is a great way to make new friends in a safe social environment and to learn more about identity, coming out, sex and sexual health, HIV, relationships, the LGBTI community and other relevant topics. There are usually between 10-14 guys in each group.

Our workshops are facilitated by trained professional volunteers and run over 2 – 6 sessions, depending on the workshop. Workshops happen at the ACON offices in central Sydney and selected regional offices.

The below workshops are for all gay men. We also run other workshops for young gay men aged 18-26.

 

Upcoming Workshops

We are currently seeking participants for the below workshops. Once enough participants have enrolled, dates for the workshop will be confirmed.

Arse-Class

Arse Class

Arse Class is a free, six week peer education workshop for gay men who want to know more about anal sex and sexual health. The topics covered in the workshop include anal health, anatomy and preparation for bottoming. It also covers anal orgasm and sexual positions, and prevention of HIV and other STI’s.
Duration: 6 sessions
Where: ACON Sydney
When: Dates TBA
Time:  6 30pm to 9 30pm.
Sign up here

 

Better-Sex

Better Sex

Better Sex is a six week workshop designed for all gay men. We will talk about how we feel about sex, how we can negotiate and access better sexual encounters and relationships. You will learn how to have more pleasurable sex in a way that enhances your overall health and wellbeing. The workshop will cover from oral and anal pleasure to other more adventurous activities. You will also hear from a well experienced panel in the final week.
Duration: 6 sessions
Where: ACON Sydney
When: Dates TBA
Time:  6 30pm to 9 30pm.
Sign up here

 

Looking-For-Mr-Right

Looking for Mr Right

Looking for Mr Right is a six week workshop designed for single gay men. You will learn about enhancing your communication skills, the dating do’s and don’ts, HIV, sexual health and intimacy. You’ll also hear from a panel of men who have different experiences of being in a variety of relationship types.
Duration: 6 sessions
Where: ACON Sydney
When: Dates TBA
Time:  6 30pm to 9 30pm.
Sign up here

 

Getting-Together

Getting Together

Getting Together provides an opportunity to discuss our identities and values with a group of like-minded same sex attracted men. This will explore all the different types of relationships we have in life such as friendships, partners and casual encounters. As a group we learn how best to communicate within social networks, both online and offline. We also look at sexual health, substance usage and HIV within our community.
Duration: 6 sessions
Where: ACON Sydney
When: Dates TBA
Time:  6 30pm to 9 30pm.
Sign up here

 

YGM-workshop-headers-SMS-Arabic

Start Making Sense – Arabic & Middle Eastern speaking background
The Young Gay Men’s Project is offering a FREE WORKSHOP for same-sex attracted guys from an Arabic or Middle Eastern background. The workshop is run by peer volunteers and explores identity, coming out, cultural expectations, relationships, friendships and community.

Duration: 6 sessions
Where: ACON Sydney
When: Dates TBA
Time:  6 30pm to 9 30pm.
Sign up here

Find Out More

For more information about any of our gay health workshops or express interest in attending, please contact us: 1800 063 060 | (02) 9206 2075 | groups@acon.org.au

Workshops for Young Gay Men

We offer a range of FREE workshops for young same sex attracted men (gay, bisexual, curious) aged 18 – 26.

Participating in a workshop is a great way to make new friends in a safe social environment and to learn more about identity, coming out, sex and sexual health, HIV, relationships, the LGBTI community and other relevant topics. There are usually between 10-14 guys in each group.

Our workshops are facilitated by trained professional volunteers and run over 2 – 6 sessions, depending on the workshop. Workshops happen at the ACON offices in central Sydney and selected regional offices.

Sign up for a workshop here

 

Upcoming Workshops

We’re currently seeking participants for the below workshop/s. Once enough participants have enrolled, dates for the workshop will be confirmed.

SMS-westernsydney

Start Making Sense – Western Sydney

This a free workshop for young gay men aged 18 to 26.

We are teaming up with Headspace Parramatta to deliver a Start Making Sense workshop about the gay community, coming out, sexual health, friends and relationships.

The workshop will help you understand:

  • Identity – what it means to be gay and young
  • Explore the process of coming out with a group of peers
  • Learn about the gay community, the scene and how to develop social networks
  • Explore friendships, relationships and communication skills with a group a peer
  • Learn about HIV and sexual health

Date: TBA
Duration: 6 sessions over 6 weeks
Time: 6 30pm to 9 30pm
Where: 2 Wentworth St, Parramatta (Headspace)
Sign up here

 

YGM-workshop-headers-SMS-Arabic

Start Making Sense – Arabic & Middle Eastern speaking background
The Young Gay Men’s Project is offering a FREE WORKSHOP, specifically for young (18 – 30) same-sex attracted guys from an Arabic or Middle Eastern background. The workshop is run by peer volunteers and explores identity, coming out, cultural expectations, relationships, friendships and community. If you are interested contact youth@acon.org.au

Date: TBA
Duration: 6 sessisons over 6 weeks
Time: 630pm to 9 30pm
Where: ACON 414 Elizabeth Street Surry Hills, Sydney
Sign up here

 

adultthemes2

Adult Themes

Explore attraction. Deepen your understanding of issues around sex, sexuality and dating. Get tips and techniques about how to have better sex, and how to safely explore the more adventurous side of sexuality. This workshop covers anal pleasure and health, sex toys and adventurous play. It explores how and where to get the kind of sex you want, sexual attitudes, values, intimacy, relationships, communication. You’ll even get to hear from a panel of guys in the know.

Date: Every Tuesday from 24 January
Duration: 6 sessions over 6 weeks
Time: 6 30pm to 9 30pm
Where: ACON 414 Elizabeth Street Surry Hills, Sydney
Sign up: groups@acon.org.au

 

GettingItOnline

Getting It Online

Learn tips and techniques for setting up an effective gay networking profile. Make new friends while exploring popular mobile apps/websites to gain the kind of experiences you want! Discuss the advantages and challenges of using the internet for finding mates, dates and sex, and investigate our social values relating to online etiquette and sexual discrimination. We’ll also talk about how to stay safe when hooking up!

Date: TBA
Duration: 3 sessions over 3 weeks
Time: 6 30pm to 9 30pm
Where: ACON 414 Elizabeth Street Surry Hills, Sydney
Sign up: groups@acon.org.au

 

StartMakingSense

Start Making Sense

This a free workshop for young gay men aged 18 to 26.

The workshop will help you understand:

  • Identity – what it means to be gay and young
  • Explore the process of coming out with a group of peers
  • Learn about the gay community, the scene and how to develop social networks
  • Explore friendships, relationships and communication skills with a group a peer
  • Learn about HIV and sexual health

Date: TBA
Duration: 6 sessions over 6 weeks
Time: 6 30pm to 9 30pm
Where: ACON 414 Elizabeth Street Surry Hills, Sydney
Sign up: groups@acon.org.au

 

SMS-online

Start Making Sense – Regional & Rural Online

We’re here for young gay men. Join our online Start Making Sense workshop.

This workshop is for young gay and same-sex attracted men aged 18-26 who live in rural and regional areas.

It is an opportunity to meet other young guys around NSW, learn more about identity, coming out, HIV and sexual health.

You will need a computer or smartphone to access the content of the workshop each week and participate in the group discussion.

The workshop is scheduled to begin in early June.

Date: TBA
Duration:
6 sessions over 6 weeks
Time:
630pm to 830pm
Where:
Online

 

Cruising-101 (2)

Cruising 101

Ever wanted to find out more about gay saunas, but were too afraid to ask? Cruising 101 is an exclusive, behind-the-scenes 2-day crash course in how to use saunas and sex clubs. Learn how to cruise, respectfully reject unwanted advances, minimise risk, maximise pleasure and stay safe in the cruising environment.

Duration: 6 sessions
Where: Sydney and selected regional offices
When: Dates TBA

 

Find Out More
For more info, please contact us: 1800 063 060 | (02) 9206 2076 | youth@acon.org.au

Free Condoms

Get It On!

Condoms prevent or reduce the exchange of semen, vaginal fluid or blood between partners during sex. When used with lube, condoms are a highly effective way to ‘stay safe’ and prevent HIV transmission.

Condoms also offer protection against a range of other sexually transmissible infections (STIs). They do this by preventing the transfer of bodily fluids or by covering affected genital areas.

To help prevent the transmission of HIV and other STIs, we distribute over 230,000 condoms and safe sex packs every year to a range of community venues, clinics and events, and we supply venues with ACON Toolboxes which we regularly stock with safe sex packs.

To find out where you can get our free condoms and safe sex packs, please visit our Ending HIV website.

To get free condoms at your community venue, event or clinic, please contact your nearest ACON office.

 

Play Zone – Sex On Premises Venue Code Of Practice

What is the ACON PlayZone Sex on Premises Venue Code of Practice?

The ACON PlayZone Sex on Premises Venue Code of Practice is a voluntary partnership project between ACON and Sex on Premises Venues (SOPV).

Compliance with the PlayZone Code ensures that patrons of SOPVs have a right to be treated with respect while in the venues, to practice safe, consensual sex and access to sexual health information.

The PlayZone Code also ensures that venue staff and customers have the right to accurate and up to date information about safe sex, HIV/AIDS and STI prevention and education.

PlayZone

When you see this sign you’re entering a PlayZone Code partner venue. That means the venue agrees to both work within the PlayZone Code and to be assessed for compliance by ACON.

The ACON PlayZone Code includes:

The Customers:

  • Free condoms and lube will be made available at all times.
  • Free condoms and lube will be accessible near areas like the darkroom.
  • Information leaflets on sexual health, clinics, HIV and STIs will be available.
  • Information leaflets will be accessible near areas with good lighting.

The Venue:

  • Lighting is appropriate enough so you can read the resources available; find the free condoms and lube; so staff can clean properly and so you can see where you are going.
  • Cleaning is done properly, with the right equipment so you don’t get messier than you want to.

The Staff:

  • Will be trained in the basics of sexual health, as well as drugs and alcohol, and will be able to show you where the information leaflets are within the venue if you need them.
  • Will be able to help you if you need basic information on sexual health or drugs and alcohol.
  • Will also be able to give you information on sexual health clinics.

ACON PlayZone SOPV Code of Practice Materials

Feedback on the ACON PlayZone SOPV of Practice

  • If you have any feedback, comments or wish to report any information regarding a SOPV in relation to the PlayZone Code, please contact us: playzone@acon.org.au
  • Please note participation in the PlayZone Code is voluntary.  ACON will deal with all comments received regarding the PlayZone Code and SOPVs confidentially. Information from the comments provided may also be passed on to the SOPV managers and staff for response.
  • If you require a response from ACON staff please provide your contact details.

ACON PlayZone Venues

These venues are committed to the PlayZone Code of Practice:

  • 357 Sydney City Steam
  • Adult World Newtown
  • Aarows
  • Bodyline
  • Headquaters
  • Mr X Adult Lifestyle
  • The Den Oxford Street
  • The Pleasure Den Kings Cross
  • The Pleasure Chest George Street
  • The Pleasure Lounge Oxford Street
  • Signal

Lesbians & Same Sex Attracted Women

Women’s Sexual Health

female-couple_Large

While the infection rates for STIs among lesbians is far lower than for gay men, lesbians and bisexual women are still at risk of STI infection. If you manage your sexual health and play it safe you can significantly reduce your risk of getting an STI, or passing it on to a sexual partner.

Getting a regular sexual health check-up is just as important as getting a regular skin cancer check or cholesterol test. The easiest way to do this is to combine a sexual health check up with a regular GP visit, with a GP you can talk to.

If you’re feeling a little unsure or nervous, visit Get Tested – it walks you through what happens at a sexual health check-up and gives other helpful information about STIs and your sexual health. You will also find links to other sites with great information about trans women’s sexual health.

Seeing a GP

There are many local doctors, counsellors and health services that provide great, holistic services to the LGBTI community:

The Australian Lesbian Medical Association (ALMA) compiles an up to date list of doctors and mental health professionals who are recommended by lesbian and bisexual women. This is a national project. There are currently around 90 doctors and mental health professionals on the list, including GPs and specialists, metropolitan and rural doctors.

Women’s Health NSW is a collective of non-government, community based women’s health and specialist centres. All centres are feminist services that provide choices for women to determine their individual health needs. The site provides a list of Women’s Health centres in NSW that you can access by calling for an appointment.

The Office on Women’s Health provides reliable health information for women, including a lesbian and bisexual health fact sheet. You can find out about health risks for same-sex attracted women, and gives you an idea of health issues you should think about discussing with your GP.

Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria (GLHV) has produced a brochure with tips and advice on how to locate a gay and lesbian friendly health service.

Our sexual health project Claude provides a peer-reviewed list of kink and/or LGBTI-friendly doctors, GPs, psychologists, and therapists in NSW.

 

SWASH – The Sydney Women and Sexual Health Survey

20150206_172245

The Sydney Women and Sexual Health (SWASH) survey was first carried out in 1996. It was initiated by workers from two ACON projects, Women Partners of Gay and Bisexual Men and the Gay and Lesbian Injecting Drug Use Project, who were faced with a lack of empirical evidence on which to base their intervention work. Research on lesbian, bisexual and queer women’s health and wellbeing is still scarce.

SWASH is now a comprehensive survey of sexual and gender identity; community connection; smoking, alcohol and drug use; sexual health; height and weight; psychological wellbeing; experiences of anti-gay, sexual and domestic violence; parenthood intentions; preventive health behaviour; healthcare access and satisfaction; and knowledge questions on reproductive health.

The survey is run every two years by a collaboration of ACON and researchers at the University of New South Wales (until 2009), and now the University of Sydney (since 2010). SWASH is the longest running and only regular survey of LBQ women’s health and wellbeing in Australia (and probably the world). In 2010, the survey began running biennially in Perth: Women’s West Australian Sexual Health (WWASH).

For more information and research on women’s health in Australia, visit The Australian Women’s Health Network’s Women’s Health Hub online library. Information is categorised under various themes including a section relating to sexually and gender diverse women.

SWASH downloads:


Peer Reviewed Journal Articles:

Germanos, R, Deacon, R, Mooney-Somers, J. (Accepted 3/3/15) The social and cultural significance of women’s sexual identities should guide health promotion; an analysis of the Sydney Women and Sexual Health (SWASH) survey. LGBT Health.

Douglas, C, Deacon, R, Mooney-Somers. (Accepted 2/2/15) Pap smear rates among Australian community-attached lesbian and bisexual women: some good news but disparities persist. Sexual Health, 12(3): 249-256.

Richters, J., & Clayton, S. (2010) The practical and symbolic purpose of dental dams in lesbian safe sex promotion [editorial]. Sexual Health, 7, 103-106.

Richters, J., Prestage, G., Schneider, K. & Clayton, S. (2010) Do women use dental dams? Safe sex practices of lesbians and other women who have sex with women. Sexual Health.7, 165-169.

Richters, J., Bergin, S., Lubowitz, S., & Prestage, G. (2002). Women in contact with Sydney’s gay and lesbian community: Sexual identity, practice and HIV risks. AIDS Care, 14, 193-202.

Richters, J., Lubowitz, S., Bergin, S., & Prestage, G. (1998). HIV risks among women in contact with Sydney’s gay and lesbian community. Venereology, 11(3), 35-38.


Conference Papers

Douglas, C, Deacon, R, Mooney-Somers (2015) Pap smear rates among Australian community-attached lesbian and bisexual women: some good news but disparities persist. Health in Difference: 9th National LGBTI Health Conference, Canberra, 13-15 August 2015. http://hdl.handle.net/2123/12063 (poster)

Douglas, C, Deacon, R, Mooney-Somers, J. Pap smear rates among Australian community-attached lesbian and bisexual women: some good news but disparities persist. Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer Women’s Health Conference, Melbourne, 27 March 2015. (oral)

Germanos, R, Deacon, R, Mooney-Somers, J. (2015) The social and cultural significance of women’s sexual identities should guide health promotion; an analysis of the Sydney Women and Sexual Health (SWASH) survey. Health in Difference: 9th National LGBTI Health Conference, Canberra, 13-15 August 2015. (poster)

Mooney-Somers, J, Deacon, R, AOD and mental health among Australian community-attached lesbian and bisexual women. Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer Women’s Health Conference, Melbourne, 27 March 2015. (invited oral)

Mooney-Somers J, Deacon R, Comfort J, Richters J. (2013) Urgent action needed to address smoking, drug use, sexual and mental health among young lesbian and bisexual women – data from Sydney and Perth. Youth Health, Perth.

Mooney-Somers J, Deacon R, Comfort J, Richters J. (2013) Using local evidence to inform public health priorities for lesbian and bisexual women’s sexual health. Sexual Health, Darwin. http://hdl.handle.net/2123/11980

Mooney-Somers, J, Deacon, R, Comfort J. Price K Richters J (November 2012) Using local evidence to inform public health priorities for lesbian and bisexual women’s sexual and reproductive health . Poster presented at 1st Sexual and Reproductive Health Conference, Melbourne.

Matheson, A, Ishter, T, May, S, Mooney-Somers, J &Deacon, R. Addressing health inequities for same sex attracted women in New South Wales, who use drugs. Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs Conference (APSAD), Hobart: November 2011. http://hdl.handle.net/2123/12040

Matheson, A, May, S, Mooney-Somers, J &Deacon, R. Addressing health inequities for same sex attracted women in New South Wales, Australia, who use drugs. International Harm Reduction Conference, Beirut: April 2011. http://hdl.handle.net/2123/12039

Clayton, S., Richters, J., May, S., & Eulate,V. (September 2008). Exploring lesbian health: Behaviours in community-connected lesbians and same-sex-attracted women in Sydney. Poster presented at Australasian Sexual Health Conference, Perth.

Richters, J., (April 2007). Researching sex between women. Invited presentation in forum on Gay and Lesbian Research Studies, 1st World Congress of Sexual Health (18th World Congress of World Association of Sexology), Sydney. Abstract S24-2 in 1st World Congress for Sexual Health, Achieving health, pleasure and respect, Sydney April 15-19, 2007: Abstract book. Boulogne Billancourt: Regimedia, p. 30.

Richters, J., Ellard, J., Prestage, G., Allan, B., Rudland, J., Pinwill, S., & Clayton, S. (July 2003). Prevention of HIV and sexually transmissible infections in sex between women: the practical and symbolic role of dental dams. Presented to AIDS Impact, Milan.

Richters, J., Ellard, J., Prestage, G., Rudland, J., Pinwill, S., & Clayton, S. (November 2002). Sex between women in contact with the gay and lesbian community: Use of dental dams. Presented to Health in Difference 4: Fourth National Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Bisexual Health Con¬ference, Sydney.

Richters, J., Ellard, J., Prestage, G., Rudland, J., Pinwill, S., & Clayton, S. (November 2002). Sexual risk among women in contact with the gay and lesbian community: Sydney Women and Sexual Health survey 2002. Presented to Building a Lesbian Health Research Agenda Forum, ACON (AIDS Council of New South Wales) and ALMA (Australian Lesbian Medical Association), Sydney.

Richters, J., Aspin, C., Bebbington, M., & Prestage, G. (September 2001). SWASH 2000: Safe sex practices between women. Presented to Lesbian Health: Making Visible through Research, AIDS Council of NSW roundtable, Sydney.

Richters, J. (December 2000). Sexual identity, sexual practice and STD risk: Sydney Women and Sexual Health survey 1998. Presented to forum on women who have sex with women, Lesbian Health Interagency Network and AIDS Council of NSW, Sydney.

Richters, J., Bergin, S., Lubowitz, S., French, J., & Prestage, G. (July 1998). Women in contact with the gay and lesbian community: Sydney Women and Sexual Health survey 1996 and 1998. Poster presented at Bridging the Gap: 12th World AIDS Conference, Geneva. Abstract 23492 in Conference Record.

Richters, J., Bergin, S., Lubowitz, S., French, J., & Prestage, G. (October 1998). Women in contact with the gay and lesbian community: Sydney Women and Sexual Health survey 1998. Presented to Fifth HIV/AIDS and Society Conference, Sydney.

Richters, J. (June 1997). Women in contact with Sydney’s gay and lesbian community: identity, behaviour and risk. Presented to AIDS Impact: Biopsychosocial Aspects of HIV Infection 3rd International Conference, Melbourne.