Ms Aditi Sharma1, Ms Kanwal Saleem1
1Centre For Culture, Ethnicity And Health, North Richmond, Australia
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on international students. This includes access to sexual health information and BBV and STI prevention.
Together with international students, and technology-studio Paper Giant, CEH’s Multicultural Health & Support Service (MHSS) has developed resources focusing on young people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The co-designing process included discussions with twenty international students from diverse backgrounds. During the process, lack of awareness of available services, cost, different help-seeking behaviours, and stigma were identified as main challenges that hinder students’ ability to access appropriate information. The discussions then led to the development of a set of comics based on scenarios relating to COVID-19 and sexual decision-making. Each comic provides discussion tools to engage young people and stimulate discussions about their choices, and the best ways to stay healthy during the pandemic. The comics were piloted with international students during the “taking care during COVID-19” workshop.
Anti-Viral COVID Safer Comics focus on eight different health topics related to issues that have impacted young people during the pandemic including sexual health. Being visually engaging, they portray the choices and issues that most young people may experience. Feedback from the international students included “the language is simple, conversational and easily understandable with a clear message, the scenarios are effective in highlighting the practicality of sex and drug use during the pandemic.”
Anti-Viral COVID Safer Comics are creative and visually engaging resource that allows including international students to engage in authentic dialogue about their health and wellbeing during the pandemic.
Aditi is a Community Engagement and Projects officer at the Centre for Culture Ethnicity and Health. She has had extensive experience working with International students and diverse communities to improve their general health and well-being. This includes providing information around Sexual and reproductive Health, Blood born viruses, social advocacy and community engagement. Aditi also has a Master’s degree in Public Health.