Diversity News is the e-newsletter for the Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service. Published twice-yearly, Diversity News is an excellent way to keep up-to-date with current issues in HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C among culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

The feature articles from our latest issue (Dec 2016) are below.

Featured Article

New Innovative Online Resource – 7 Good Reasons to Start HIV Treatment NOW

Almost 60% of Australians have a low level of health literacy, according to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. This means that only 40% of Australia’s population can understand and follow health messages in the way they are presented, allowing them to make sound choices based on their understanding of the issues they may face. In addition, the barriers to health literacy may be even higher for people with lower levels of education and for people who speak a language other than English (LOTE) [1].

In September, 7 Good Reasons to Start Treatment NOW was launched. This online HIV resource has eye-catching images and clear messages for people with low literacy skills and people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

People with HIV, low literacy and from CALD backgrounds, generally view HIV treatments as complex and extremely difficult to understand. Health workers can often add to information overload, complexity and confusion of patients. The resource aims to demystify the complexity of HIV treatments by reducing people’s fears about treatment while highlighting the importance of starting treatment early for a healthier life.

7 Reasons to Start Treatment Now was developed in collaboration with Positive Life NSW. It grew from a distinct absence of clear and simple HIV treatment information available for people with HIV and low literacy skills and/or people from CALD backgrounds.

“A resource was needed that conveyed information in a way that was easily understood,” said Barbara Luisi, Manager of the MHAHS. “This ground breaking resource combines plain language with culturally appropriate images to help initiate patient discussions about the importance of starting treatment as soon as possible. It also addresses privacy and confidentiality, issues important to people from CALD backgrounds.”

Craig Cooper, CEO of Positive Life, said people with low literacy skills, who may be also from CALD backgrounds, were more likely to start treatment late, with their health suffering as a result.

"Lack of information about the benefits of HIV treatment, that’s easy to understand, negatively impacts on the health decisions of people with low literacy skills who are diagnosed with HIV," Craig Cooper said.

Consumers have been at the forefront of the development of the resource, which is a reflection of the ethos of the MHAHS and Positive Life NSW. Clients and co-workers were involved from the beginning, providing consumer knowledge and expertise to help demystify the complexity of HIV treatments and reduce fears. The text was kept as simple and direct as possible and real images were used to represent diversity.

7 Reasons to Start Treatment NOW has been promoted extensively through relevant agencies working directly with people from diverse backgrounds and was supported by ethnic media in priority languages. The resource is available for download in English and in seven priority languages.

1. Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, National Statement