Positive Life NSW Blog

Positive Life in Brisbane for the Joint World STI & HIV Congress and Australasian HIV & AIDS Conference

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Positive Life staff recently attended the Joint World STI & HIV Congress (the Congress) and Australasian HIV & AIDS Conference (ASHM Conference) held in Brisbane from Sunday 13 September to Friday 18 September 2015.

(L to R) John McAllister, Prof. Brian Gazzard, Jenny Brockie and Craig Cooper

Presentations from the science, epidemiology and clinical fields as well as the interdisciplinary social and policy domains provided a variety of perspectives on developments in HIV management, health, partnerships and populations. Depending on their role in the agency, staff attended various presentations from HIV strategic and agency networking perspectives, to HIV information and developments around policy, treatments and marketing communications.

The Joint Conferences delivered a strong focus on the role of and call to action in response to the immediate need of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in Australia. The Community PrEP Forum by the HIV Foundation QLD on Tuesday 15 September started the conference conversation in earnest on the call for the use of PrEP to revolutionise HIV prevention in Australia with Professor Bob Grant from the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Dr Darren Russell from Cairns Sexual Health Service, HIV Specialist Dr Fiona Bisshop and Heath Paynter from the Victorian AIDS Council. On Wednesday 16, Kirby researchers, community leaders and activists continued the PrEP debate at the “Find me, Treat me, PrEP me, Heal me” forum and on Friday 18 September, the clinicians stream explored PrEP from primary care perspectives including impact, access and availability options in Australia now and into the future.

Since the conference, Professor Grant has participated in three discussion events on PrEP and HIV Prevention in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne to continue raising awareness of this HIV prevention option and implications for both the community and health care providers.

Positive Life staff attended the NAPWHA/PozAction symposium ‘Feeling good, living better’ scheduled to coincide with the conference on Tuesday 15 September on the latest quality of life research and issues for people living with HIV. The symposium chaired by NAPWHA President Robert Mitchell heard from a panel made up of President of Living Positive Victoria Ian Muchamore, CEO of Positive Life NSW Craig Cooper, Dr Fraser Drummond from ViiV Healthcare, and Dr Jennifer Power and Dr Anthony Lyons from La Trobe University. Craig Cooper, CEO of Positive Life stressed one of the keys to the quality of life for PLHIV and maintaining their health by ensuring quality treatment, and retention in care rested strongly on relationship building skills of negotiation and communication between PLHIV and their treating clinicians.

On Wednesday 16 September, CEO Craig Cooper was part of a breakfast symposium panel on ART perspectives titled ‘Whose Life is it Anyway?’sponsored by ViiV Healthcare and facilitated by SBS Insight host Jenny Brockie along with Prof. Brian Gazzard, Clinical Research Director at The Chelseas and Westminister Hospital and John McAllister. The symposium explored the issues associated with treatments including decisions around side effects that PLHIV often have to managed and the importance of regular treatment reviews.

This was followed by the opening plenary session of the ASHM Conference where the Queensland Minister for Health, the Hon Cameron Dick MP announced an extra $13 million over the next four years committed to the sexual health of Queenslanders as well as $150,000 to the Queensland AIDS Council.

On Thursday 17 September, Lance Feeney Policy Advisor was invited to be part of the panel for the antiretroviral guidelines session ‘When and What to Start’ along with Prof Jenny Hoy, Dr Julian Elliott, Dr Mark Boyd, Dr James McMahon and Dr Mark Bloch. The session looked at results from the START study, when to begin ART, and what treatments to start with. The audience was asked to vote on a range of treatment options to which the panel provided further comment.

AFAO facilitated an Advocacy and Community Hub Program over Thursday and Friday. Highlights from this program included a call to action for better prevention, treatment & care for sex workers by the Scarlett Alliance, an online awareness campaign launch by the Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC) on PrEP called ComePrepd and an update from the CEO of the Anwernekenhe National HIV Alliance about Anwernekenhe 6 their National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Conference on HIV Education, Prevention and Wellbeing in November 2015.

On the final day of the ASHM Conference, the HIV Futures 8 Survey was officially launched from the AFAO Hub with Associate Professor Edwina J Wright from the Burnett Institute, Robert Mitchell President of NAPWHA, Research Fellow Dr Jennifer Power from the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society and the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) team.

Throughout the five days of the conferences, over 400 posters from the Congress and 133 posters from the ASHM Conference were on display. Examples of Congress posters included ‘Encouraging Aboriginal Gay men to test for HIV’ and ‘Screening for Sexually Transmitted Infections in Adolescent Girls and Young Women in Mombasa, Kenya’ to ‘Cost-Effectiveness of HIV Self-Testing Promotion Through Grindr™’. ASHM Conference posters were as varied and included ‘Is HIV associated cognitive impairment a concern for PLHIV?’ and ‘Impact of a Pharmacist Review during Annual Health Checks in HIV patients taking combination antiretroviral therapy’ to ‘Food Insecurity in People Living with HIV (PLHIV ) in Sydney, NSW Australia’.

Positive Life NSW contributed to two posters titled ‘Anal Cancer - Diagnosis, Monitoring and Management in Sydney and South East Sydney Local Health Districts’ and ‘Creating Opportunities for Change in HIV Policy: a case study of election advocacy in NSW’.

Anal Cancer - Diagnosis, Monitoring and Management in Sydney and South East Sydney Local Health DistrictsCreating Opportunities for Change in HIV Policy: a case study of election advocacy in NSW

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