Sexual health knowledge and health service utilisation among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander methamphetamine users
Introduction: Methamphetamine is an addictive stimulant drug that has adverse effects on health. Concerns exist around methamphetamine use in Aboriginal communities nationally. Methamphetamine use has previously been associated with increased risk of sexually transmitted infections (STI) and sexual risk behaviour. This study investigated frequency of methamphetamine use, health service utilisation, sexual health knowledge and sexual behaviours among Aboriginal people in Australia.
Methods: During 2011-2013, a survey of sexual health and blood borne viruses’ knowledge, risk behaviour and health service access was administered to 2,877 Aboriginal people aged 16-29 years. Participants self-reported methamphetamine use and were categorised as frequent (<monthly use), infrequent or non- users. Chi-squared tests were used to find associations for categorical variables, those that had a p-value of <0.05 were entered into a bivariate and multivariate logistic regression for predicting frequency of methamphetamine use.
Results: Of the 2,877 participants, 272 (9.5%) reported using methamphetamines in the past year, of these, 68% (n=184) were frequent users and 32% (n=88) considered infrequent users. In multivariate analysis among frequent users compared to less frequent users, males were more likely to report frequent methamphetamine use than females as were individuals who identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual (OR:3.26, 95% CI: 2.01-5.30). Frequent users were significantly more likely to have had more than 3 sexual partners in the last year (OR: 1.65, 95% CI: 1.21-2.25) and their last partner was more likely to have been a casual partner (OR: 2.55, 95% CI: 1.75-3.72). Poly drug use was a significant factor among frequent users compared to less frequent users.
Conclusion: This study provides an insight about methamphetamine use, sexual behaviour and utilisation of health services among Aboriginal people who use methamphetamines. Interventions to address methamphetamines should be mindful of polydrug use, sexual risk behaviours and STI and BBV testing.