Associate Professor Eric Chow, Monash University and Melbourne Sexual Health Centre

I would like to take the opportunity to thanks the Australasian Epidemiological Association for this Mid-Career Travel Award. My research focuses on prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections (STI), with a strong interest in gonorrhoea, syphilis and human papillomavirus (HPV). 

The AEA Mid-Career Travel Award allowed me to attend and present my research at the STI & HIV 2019 World Congress in Vancouver, Canada, on the 14th to 17th of July 2019. It was a joint conference of the International Society for Sexually Transmitted Diseases Research (ISSTDR) and the International Union Against Sexually Transmitted Infections (IUSTI). The joint IUSTI and ISSTD conferences are one of the largest international HIV/STI conferences every 2 years. There were more 1,000 delegates represented by more than 50 countries attending the STI & HIV 2019 World Congress in Vancouver.

I had one oral presentation entitled “Oropharyngeal and genital gonorrhoea among heterosexuals who report sexual contact with partners with gonorrhoea”. The current STI screening guidelines do not recommend oropharyngeal swab for gonorrhoea among heterosexuals but my work has demonstrated that a substantial proportion of heterosexuals reporting contact with sexual partners with gonorrhoea were only tested positive in the oropharynx but not the genital. The full paper is now published in Sexually Transmitted Diseases (doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0000000000001068).

I also presented five posters at the conference.

  1. Use of doxycycline prophylaxis again STI among gay and bisexual men taking pre-exposure prophylaxis in Melbourne (full paper is published in the Lancet HIV. doi: 1016/S2352-3018(19)30186-9)
  2. Prevalence of HPV in teenage heterosexual males after the introduction of the gender-neutral vaccination program in Australia (full paper is published in Vaccine. doi: 1016/j.vaccine.2019.09.052)
  3. Low prevalence of high-risk anal HPV in young gay and bisexual males after the universal HPV vaccination program in Australia
  4. Do sexual practices differ by age among gay and bisexual men? A cross-sectional study in Melbourne, Australia
  5. Patterns of group sex activity among gay and bisexual men in Melbourne and Sydney in Australia, 2013-2018

Furthermore, I also participated in a Twitter campaign called #FaceOfAnSTI at the conference. This campaign aimed to reduce the stigma of STI by getting people to upload a photo of your face with a giant STI and talk about STI openly.

After the conference, I then travelled to Hong Kong to meet my collaborator Assistant Professor Edmond Choi (The University of Hong Kong) to discuss potential projects. I also gave a presentation entitled “How to write a successful grant/award application” at the School of Nursing, LKS Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong. This presentation aimed to provide tips on writing grant and award applications to students and staff.

In summary, I am very grateful to the Australasian Epidemiological Association for the Mid-Career Award which provided me with an opportunity to present my research and meet international researchers.

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Left to right: Mr Andrew Law (The University of Melbourne), Associate Professor Eric Chow (Monash University & Melbourne Sexual Health Centre), Professor Christian Hoebe (Maastricht University)

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Presentation at the University of Hong Kong.