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Sexual Health Research

Sydney Local Health District has the highest rates of gonorrhoea, infectious syphilis and newly diagnosed HIV in NSW, and the highest rate of chlamydia in metropolitan NSW.  The District's Sexual Health Service aims to reduce the high rates of these sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in our local community and improve the health of individuals and communities living with, or at risk of, STIs, including HIV. 

We are involved in a number of projects which monitor patterns of STIs, including HIV, throughout Australia. This research has led to a greater understanding of who is at highest risk of STIs and HIV and the reasons for this, allowing us to better target and plan education, prevention and clinical services for the residents of the District.

We are also involved in several collaborative studies to better understand and improve the sexual health and wellbeing of gay men, people living with HIV and other Australian populations. These include:

  • Study for the Prevention of Anal Cancer (SPANC), a study of anal precancerous lesions which aims to inform an anal cancer screening program among gay men, in an effort to address increasing rates of anal cancer in this population
  • ACCESS (Australian Collaboration for Coordinated Enhanced Sentinel Surveillance of Sexually Transmissible Infections and Blood-borne Viruses) is investigating rates and risk factors for a broad range of STIs among Australians attending sexual health and other clinical services
  • ARCHIVE (The Age-related Clonal Haematopoiesis in an HIV Evaluation Cohort) is monitoring and observing people living over the age of 55 for up to 10 years to evaluate differences between those living with, and without, HIV in terms of their genetic make-up and other factors associated with aging
  • TAIPAN (Treatment with Antiretrovirals and their Impact on Positive And Negative men) is investigating the impact that earlier treatment of HIV-positive individuals has on reducing the risk of HIV transmission in Australia. 

Our participation in two world-first clinical trials

The GoGoVax Study is a world-first study being conducted now, using a licensed meningococcal B vaccine to prove if the vaccine can also prevent gonorrhoea. Gonorrhoea (also called gono or the clap), is a global public health problem with between 87 to 106 million yearly cases, with increasing multi-drug resistance. In Australia, gonorrhoea infection rates have almost doubled over the past five years, with the most significant increase among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. People who enrol in the study receive two doses of the vaccine or the placebo over three months and then are followed for two years. At the end of the two years, everyone in the study receives the vaccine.

The Syphilaxis Study will test whether taking a daily antibiotic reduces or prevents bacterial STI acquisition in sexually active gay and bisexual men and transgender people, and whether they find taking a daily antibiotic for this purpose acceptable.

Our Research Team

Professor David Templeton Head of Department and Head of Research
Dr Rachel Burdon Staff Specialist
Dr Rachael Thomas Staff Specialist
Linda Garton Study Coordinator and Clinical Nurse Consultant
Loretta Healey Senior Counsellor
Thomas Doyle Study Coordinator and Clinical Nurse Specialist
Dr Mary Stewart PhD Candidate. Thesis title: Acute Sexual Assault Presentations (ASAP) study. Co-supervisor Professor David Templeton.

Selected Grants

Amount awarded Grant and project details
$55,000 Ramsay Research Foundation, 2022-2023
Acute Sexual Assault Presentations
Investigator: Stewart, M (PhD supervisor Templeton DJ)

Our Publications

2022

Amin J, Vaccher S, Templeton DJ, Bavinton B, Jin F, Zablotska I, Matthews G, Oglvie E, Yeung B, Ooi C, Dharan N, Baker DA, Read P, Grulich AE. Low prior exposure and incidence of hepatitis C in HIV negative gay and bisexual men taking PrEP: findings from the EPIC-NSW prospective implementation study. Clinical Infectious Diseases 2022;75:1497-1502
Boettiger DC, Hamidul Huque MD, Bloch M, Woolley I, Templeton DJ, Law MG, Fraser N,. Hoy J, Petoumenos K. Physical function limitation in a cross-sectional study of gay and bisexual men with and without HIV: Findings from the Australian Positive and Peers Evaluation Study (APPLES). Sexual Health 2022;19:533-545
Burdon RM, Atefi D, Rana J, Parasuraman A, Lee AS, Nield B. Sustained Mpox Proctitis with Primary Syphilis and HIV Seroconversion, Australia. Emerging Infectious Diseases (accepted December 2022).
Callander D, McManus H, Gray RT, Grulich AE, Carr A, Hoy J, Donovan B, Fairley CK, Holt M, Templeton DJ, Liaw S, McMahon J, Asselin J, Petoumenos K, Hellard M, Pedrana A, Elliott J, Keen P, Costello J, Keane R, Stoové M, Guy R. A Ten-Year Cohort Study of HIV Treatment-Of-Prevention and its Impact on HIV Incidence Among Gay and Bisexual Men in Australia. The Lancet HIV (accepted Dec 2022)
Dharan N, Jin F, Vaccher S, Bavinton B, Yeung B, Guy R, Carr A, Zablotska I, Amin J, Read P, Templeton DJ, Ooi C, Martin S, Ryder N, Smith D, McNulty A, Brown K, Price K, Holden J, Grulich AE. Characteristics of HIV seroconversions in a large prospective implementation cohort study of oral HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis in men who have sex with men (EPICNSW). Clinical Infectious Diseases 2022;76: e622-e628
Di Ciaccio PR, van Leeuwen MT, Amin J, Vajdic CM, McGregor S, Poynten IM, Templeton DJ, Law M, Grulich AE, Polizzotto MN, Jin F. Second primary cancers in people with HIV/AIDS: a national data linkage study of incidence and risk factors. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (accepted December 2022)
Heron JE, McManus H, Vickers T, Ryan K, Wright E, Carter A, Stoove M, Asselin J, Grulich A, Donovan B, Guy R, Varma R, Chen M, Ryder N, Lewis DA, Templeton DJ, O'Connor CC, Gracey DM; for the ACCESS Collaboration. Renal failure, antiretroviral therapy, and HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis: an observational cohort study. PLoS One (accepted December 2022)
IM Poynten, Jin F, Molano M, Roberts JM, Hillman RJ, Templeton DJ, Law C, Stanley MA, Waterboer T, Farnsworth A, Fairley CK, Garland SM, Grulich AE. Possible reactivation of latent anal human papillomavirus associated with markers of immune dysfunction in gay and bisexual men. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention 2022;31:1052-1057
Phillips S, Cassells K, Garland SM, Machalek DA, Roberts JM, Templeton DJ, Jin F, Poynten IM, Hillman RJ, Grulich AE, Murray GL, Tabrizi SN, Molano M, Cornall AM. Gene methylation of CADM1, MAL but not miR124 identified as a biomarker of high grade anal intraepithelial neoplasia. Scientific Reports 2022;12:3565
Phillips S, Cornall AM, Molano M, Jin F, Roberts JM, Farnsworth A, Hillman RJ, Templeton DJ, Poynten IM, Garland SM, Fairley CK, Murray GL, Tabrizi SN, Grulich AE, Machalek DA. Performance of human papillomavirus (HPV) attribution algorithms to predict causative genotypes in anal high-grade lesions. The Journal of Infectious Diseases (accepted Dec 2022)
Philpot SP, Aung E, Templeton DJ, Stackpool G, Varma R, Power C, Robinson S, Stratigos A, Mao L, Grulich AE, Bavinton BR. Experiences of recently HIV diagnosed gay and bisexual migrants in Australia: Implications for sexual health programs and health promotion. Health and Social Care in the Community 2022;30:e5801-e5810
Poynten IM, Jin F, Molano Luque M, Machalek DA, Roberts JM, Hillman RJ, Cornall A, Phillips S, Templeton DJ, Law C, Fairley CK, Grulich AE, Garland SM; on behalf of the Study of Prevention of Anal Cancer Study Team. Comparison of four assays for baseline anal oncogenic human papillomavirus (HRHPV) anal detection in the Study of the Prevention of Anal Cancer (SPANC). Clinical Microbiology and Infection 2022;28:1652.e1-1652.e6
Rees H, Callander D, Goddard SL, Griggs E, Prott G, Clifton B, Templeton DJ. Higher sexually transmissible infection test yield among men who have sex with men attending a community-based testing site compared with a clinical service in Sydney, Australia. Sexually Transmitted Diseases 2022; 49: e104-106
Stewart ML, Shackel R, Freedman E, Templeton DJ. Adult Sexual Assault Patients' Experience of the Physical Examination Component of the Medical Forensic Examination: A Scoping Review to Identify Gaps in the Research Literature. Trauma Violence and Abuse (accepted Dec 2022)
Wong IKJ, Grulich AE, Poynten IM, Polizzitto M,  van Leeuwen MT, Vadjic CM,  Amin J,  McGregor S, Law M, Templeton DJ, Jin F. Time trends in cancer incidence in Australian adults living with HIV between 1982 and 2012. HIV Medicine 2022;23:134-145

Our Presentations

2022

Atefi D, Garton L, Martin G, Asselin J, Carter A, Donovan B, Fairley CK, Guy R, Khaw C, Marshall L, McKee J, McNulty A, Rutherford A, Vickers T, Templeton DJ. Pharyngeal chlamydia: temporal trends and association with anogenital infections among men who have sex with men attending Australian sexual health clinics 2014-2019, Australasian Sexual Health Conference 2022.