Skip to content


Join our FREE network for latest news, events, training, research, sponsorship opportunities and more

Migrant sexual health help-seeking and experiences of stigmatisation and discrimination in Perth, Western Australia: Exploring barriers and enablers



Project status


Ethics approval

Approved by the Curtin Human Research Ethics Committee (RDHS-96-15).


Ms Josephine Agu (Curtin University), Dr Roanna Lobo (Curtin University), Ms Gemma Crawford (Curtin University), Ms Bethwyn Chigwada (WA AIDS Council).

Brief overview

The aim of this study was to explore and better understand the barriers and enablers for migrant and mobile populations to Australia in accessing sexual health services, and the experiences of stigma and discrimination related to this. It is recognised that migrants to Australia may experience stigma 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 among 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 interviews, and focus group discussions with members of migrant populations residing in Perth, Western Australia.


Curtin University and the Metropolitan Migrant Resource Centre WA (MMRCWA).

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 socio-cultural and religious influences, financial limitations, and low knowledge levels of sexual health literacy. In addition, it was found that past stigmatisation of people living with HIV, and stigma 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