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project overview


Name of Project

Migrant Sexual Health Help-seeking and Experiences of Stigmatisation and Discrimination in Perth, Western Australia: Exploring Barriers and Enablers

Project Status


Ethics approval

The Curtin University Human Research Ethics Committee approved this study (approval number RDHS-96-15).

Chief Investigators

Josephine Agu, Roanna Lobo, Gemma Crawford and Bethwyn Chigwada

Timeframe of Project


Brief overview

The aim of this study was to explore and better understanding the barriers and enablers for migrant and mobile populations to Australia in accessing sexual health services, and the experiences of stigmatisation and discrimination related to this. It is recognised that migrants to Australia may experience stigmatisation and discrimination when attempting to access services, through employment, accommodation, education and social exclusion, all of which have been found to result in delays in help-seeking. A recent increase in rates of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses amongst populations previously from high prevalence rates of HIV has been recorded, indicating the need for a more specific approach to providing services and attending to the needs of the different migrant populations now residing in Australia. This study utilised a qualitative approach including key informant interviews with health promotion workers, program coordinator and community consultation group; pilot testing of a focus group interview, and focus group discussions with members of migrant populations residing in Perth, Western Australia.


Curtin University and the Metropolitan Migrant Resource Centre (MMRC).

SiREN’s role

SiREN team members designed the study and coordinated the data collection process, along with analysing the qualitative data, and reviewing and approving the final version of a journal article for submission for publication.

Project outputs and impacts

Results from the study support and expand on previous research on migrant sexual health, including how help-seeking behaviours are impacted by the social determinants of health. The study also supports the notion that migrants from different cultural backgrounds experience different enablers and barriers, however common themes were also prevalent. These included sociocultural and religious influences, financial limitations, and low knowledge levels of sexual health literacy. Additionally, it was found that past stigmatisation of people living with HIV, and stigmatisation and discrimination in employment and screening were also factors contributing to sexual health help-seeking behaviours of the study population.

The study enabled migrants from Sub-Saharan African and South-East Asia/East Asia living in Perth, Western Australia to express their experiences and help-seeking behaviours relating to sexual health separate from other migrant groups. The results of the study provides evidence of the reasons behind migrants’ sexual health help-seeking behaviours that is usable by sexual health service providers and policy makers. The results of this study could help facilitate migrant help-seeking behaviours and access to health services through the provision of improved informed decision making by policy makers and help to address the sexual health barriers and social inequities experienced by this population.


Agu, J., Lobo, R., Crawford, G., & Chigwada, B. (2016). Migrant sexual health help-seeking and experiences of stigmatisation and discrimination in Perth, Western Australia: Exploring Barriers and Enablers. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13, 485-507. 10.3390/ijerph13050485