Dear friends, partners, and colleagues,
As an organisation that was formed out of public health emergency, the Queensland Council for LGBTI Health remains ready to serve the health and wellbeing of our communities. Guided by public health best practice & ongoing advice, we have taken several steps to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) while continuing to provide our essential services. We are closely monitoring and evaluating guidance from the Health Department at both State and Federal levels and will update you as our response evolves – which we know it will.
Supporting the health and wellness of all our communities is paramount as the local and national response to COVID-19 continues to rapidly change. From our Brisbane and Cairns premises, we, along with our community partner organisations, provide many essential community services that are needed now more than ever including practical daily supports for the most vulnerable members of our communities, general medical and mental health supports, Recovery support, social support groups and sexual health supplies.
The determination to cancel or reduce programs that people rely on is an ongoing challenge. However, as we make decisions regarding levels of risk, we do this to lessen the risk of greater challenges and consequences in the future.
Our Facebook pages are being kept up to date, along with those pages for our community partners and those who use our premises in both Brisbane and Cairns, and provides the best place to check for program changes and closures.
During this time, we will do our best to keep you informed as the COVID-19 responses evolve but I also encourage you to seek out your own information and advice.
We have also released an important statement on transmission of COVID-19 in relation to sexual activity. You can see this statement below.
We invite anyone seeking support or connection to services to email us at email@example.com which will be monitored from Monday to Friday.
PROGRAMS & SERVICES UPDATES
At this time:
- Clinic 30 at Helen Street is open to provide essential services as we are are committed to seeing our communities through this period. Until further notice we have cancelled our Testing Point Tuesday night walk in STI/HIV testing clinic. If you need an appointment please ring 07 3017 1777, and please do not come into the Clinic to book an appointment as we are not taking any walk ins at this time. See our Facebook page for information on important new processes.
- Our Mental Health and Case Management services will continue to be provided however our appointments are being conducted via online technologies.
- We have stopped our ‘in person’ Volunteer activities for the foreseeable future – however, our work would not be possible without our amazing and dedicated volunteers and we are currently planning a range of new online activities with our volunteers. We will be communicating updates on those soon.
- We have made the difficult but important decision that our premises at both Helen Street and Draper Street are no longer available for community groups and bookings. However we are always available to discuss how we can support our vital community groups to remain connected online and through virtual meetings. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we can support you.
- Anyone who is sick with flu like symptoms, or who has had close contact with someone known to have COVID-19, is asked not to come to our premises at Helen Street or Draper Street. If you have an existing appointment with us and need to cancel, please cancel online or by calling 07 3017 1777. Anyone with symptoms including fever, cough or shortness of breath is being asked to contact their primary GP or the COVID-19 hotline.
Queensland Council for LGBTI Health (Formerly Queensland AIDS Council)
The Queensland Council for LGBTI Health statement on 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and sexual activity.
The Queensland Council for LGBTI Health, or QC (previously the Queensland AIDS Council) calls for members of our LGBTI Sistergirl and Brotherboy communities to take action to prevent the transmission of 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) by ceasing sexual activity that can transmit the virus.
QC CEO Rebecca Reynolds said, “The COVID-19 virus is having significant impacts for many members of our communities, and the reality is that having to stop sexual contact is another significant step that our communities must take now. While COVID-19 isn’t a sexually transmitted virus, the close contact that comes through physical sexual activity with other people can transmit the virus”.
“Sex and the expression of sexuality is a vital part of the lives of our communities” she went on to say “and sex positivity is in the DNA of our organisation and our work, so this is a big change for us but an affirming message for us to put out. But we know our communities are strong, and just as our communities have grown out of the experiences of the past, many similar to the ones we are seeing now, we know that by coming together and reaching out that we will be stronger, braver and more amazing on the other side”.
QC takes this position knowing that it is a vital message to get out into our communities.
At QC we use the term physical distancing to prevent transmission, rather than social distancing, because we believe it is vital that we maintain social connection through online and other strategies, particularly at this time. Given that, we know that this is a nuanced situation, and just with the HIV response, there are protective strategies and sexual situations where the risk isn’t as straightforward – while casual sex with multiple partners is a significant risk and should be stopped, online sex is a safe strategy for example, and we recognise that some people may choose to continue having sex with partners that they live with.
QC will be releasing more information about steps and actions people can take to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 while maintaining sexual activity of different and safe kinds.
We will also be releasing important information about the use of and decisions about continuing PrEP where people are deciding to stop having sex. At this time it is important to keep ‘business as usual’ and maintain existing medication routines. If you are having trouble maintaining access to your existing supply of PrEP, call Clinic 30 on 07 3017 1777 for advice about access options. You can find more information about PrEP through www.comeprepd.info
The step to stop having sex that presents a risk of transmission is an important but single part of wider changes for our communities. Over the coming weeks and months many members of our communities are going to struggle at different times. People we know may get sick and there may be significant financial implications for some people. We know that life affirming surgeries have stopped and we know that many folk have been forced to make the decision to stay home in places that are homophobic, and where there may be a risk of interpersonal and family violence.
QC is committed to standing with our communities and maintaining our support services as the situation evolves.