The Health News – 23 September 2015

Overview:
• The head of a NSW North Coast Aboriginal Health Service said the appointment of Ken Wyatt as the Assistant Health Minister will give indigenous Australia a stronger voice in Canberra. Mr Wyatt has made history as the first indigenous frontbencher in federal parliament.

• A call to improve access to medical abortion for women living in regional Victoria has been backed by Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford. A scoping study by Ballarat-based women’s health provider Grampians Women’s Health found only one GP in the region who was able to prescribe the abortion drug.

• HIV tends to dominate discussions of sexually transmitted infections, and the incidence of these diseases is on the rise. Syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia and relative newcomer Mycoplasma genitalium are on the increase in most parts of the world.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 23rd September 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-22/north-coast-aboriginal-medical-services-buoyed-by-ken-wyatt27s/6793846

The head of a NSW North Coast Aboriginal Health Service said the appointment of Ken Wyatt as the Assistant Health Minister will give indigenous Australia a stronger voice in Canberra.

Mr Wyatt has made history as the first indigenous frontbencher in federal parliament.

The head of the Ballina based Bullinah Aboriginal Health Service Mark Moore said it indicates a serious commitment by government to address indigenous health.

He said Mr Wyatt will be an excellent advocate for indigenous needs.

“The plus is that we’ll be going to someone who already understands and who has good insight into what the real issues are in terms of addressing our health needs across the region,” he said.

“He has been a part of indigenous communities and knows at a grass root level what the real issues are for us.”

Mr Moore said the next thing the sector needs from government is a long-term funding commitment.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-22/pulford-backs-access-to-abortion-drug-in-regional-victoria/6795982

A call to improve access to medical abortion for women living in regional Victoria has been backed by Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford.

A recent scoping study by Ballarat-based women’s health provider Grampians Women’s Health found only one GP in the region who was able to prescribe the abortion drug … RU486.

It led the group to push for more doctors to become prescribers of the drug, which allows women to end their pregnancy up until nine weeks gestation.

“It sort of seems ironic that this option that is appropriate for rural and remote regions in that sense is actually less available up there than it is in metropolitan regions at the moment,” its chief executive Marianne Hendron said.

Ms Hendron said the process to becoming a prescriber was simple and involved a four-hour online course.

“Obviously it’s not without its risks, but if doctors are well supported around how to manage the prescribing of medication abortion, that will enable a lot more women to see it as an option and to access it in remote areas,” she said.

Ms Pulford, the Member for Western Victoria, said RU486 had been approved for use across Australia since 2013, but that there was a lag in people’s acceptance and understanding of the issue.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-22/whats-new-in-sexually-transmitted-infections/6794204

Sexually transmitted infections are a dinner party conversation most of us will steer clear of. But get a bunch of sexual health experts, policy makers and anyone with an interest in STIs together for a conference and it’s a completely different story.

While HIV tends to dominate discussions of STIs, there are a whole host of other … nasties likely to get plenty of airtime. Most of these illnesses are unlikely to kill you, but they can certainly make your life pretty miserable and in some cases, cause harm, disability and even death to unborn children.

And the incidence of these diseases is on the rise. Syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia… and relative newcomer Mycoplasma genitalium are on the increase in most parts of the world.

…[These are] some of the hot topics that came up when Brisbane recently played host to a gathering of some of the world’s leading experts on STIs.

Just when you thought the Ebola virus couldn’t get any more horrific, along comes the first probable case of sexually transmitted Ebola virus. It turns out that long after the disease itself has resolved, the virus can hide from the immune system in a couple of parts of the body; specifically, the eye and the gonads.

A Liberian woman was diagnosed with this deadly disease, but the only possible contact she’d had with an infected person was a sexual encounter with a man who had recovered from the infection more than six months before; long after he would have been contagious via the usual pathways. What’s more, the genetic profile of her virus was very similar to his.

Another study has found that the Ebola virus can be detected in semen – albeit at low levels – for as long as nine months after the initial infection. The risk of transmission is pretty low, but experts are warning that Ebola survivors need to practice safe sex for at least six months or until they test completely free of the virus.

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