Australian Federation of HIV Organisations in partnership with other key HIV agencies in Australia are urging people living with HIV to remain calm amid reports of HIV medication running out in the face of #COVID-19.

The reassurance came as AFAO teamed up with Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), and National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) to issue a factsheet Making Sense of COVID19 – LGBTIQ and HIV Communities.

Available on AFAO website, the factsheet urges people to keep taking HIV medication as prescribed and provides the basics about COVID-19 including what it is, how it spreads, how to prevent infection, and who within the LGBTQI community is most vulnerable and susceptible to infection.

President of NAPWHA, Scott Harlum, is aware that people with HIV may be feeling anxious, especially with regard to supply of anti-retroviral medication.

“NAPWHA can also reassure people with HIV that our anti-retroviral medications are safe. NAPWHA is maintaining regular contact with suppliers who assure us there is sufficient supply available and already in the country to meet demand.

“We know that providing timely and accurate information for people with HIV is key to minimising anxiety in the community. We have published information based on the best advice currently available to us, and will continue to provide updates on COVID-19 for people with HIV as the science develops and we know more.

To read the factsheet go to www.afao.org.au/our-work/coronavirus-covid-19/
Advances in treatment mean people living with HIV can have long healthy lives. HIV treatment reduces the amount of HIV in a person’s blood and prevents other illnesses. People living with HIV who take HIV medication daily as prescribed and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their loved ones. These and more treatment issues are discussed in two new factsheets, HIV and Having a Baby and HIV and Relationship. Developed by Pozhet NSW in partnership with the Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service, the easy to read factsheets provide basic information and useful contacts about HIV treatment.

The factsheets can be downloaded via https://pozhet.org.au/pozhet-print-resources/.

The Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service (MHAHS) has launched a new, state-wide hepatitis B campaign.

Developed in partnership with the NSW Ministry of Health, the Are you living with hepatitis B? Find out. Get tested campaign promotes hepatitis B testing among Arabic-speaking, Chinese-speaking, Korean, sub-Saharan and Vietnamese communities, with a focus on the five metropolitan local health districts with the highest prevalence of hepatitis B.

The campaign will run throughout the 2020 calendar year and include four intensive multi-channel activations. These will involve the distribution of printed and digital campaign collateral, ethnic and social media promotions as well as multilingual website channels. The activations are planned for February, May, July and October. Community engagement activities will be ongoing throughout the year.

A multilingual resource toolkit, which includes the campaign resources and guidelines for use is available on the campaign webpage.

For more information about the campaign, please contact Natali Smud on 9515 1234 or email Cette adresse e-mail est protégée contre les robots spammeurs. Vous devez activer le JavaScript pour la visualiser.

MHAHS was well-represented at the Joint 2019 Australasian Sexual Health and HIV Conference, held in Perth, WA, from 16-19 September.

Donatella Cifali, one of our Senior Social Workers, presented a paper titled Stigma, equity and choice: Decision making in the context of infant feeding by HIV-positive mothers discussing issues affecting women living with HIV. The paper was written in collaboration with Pozhet NSW.

"It was good to see issues affecting women discussed and taken seriously even though women constitute only about 10% of people living with HIV in Australia. There are particular issues that are unique to women and are worth raising as it affects the social and emotional wellbeing of women. Our paper looked at breast feeding in the context of the newly released National Breast Feeding Strategy and of various HIV and breastfeeding guidelines globally," Ms Donatela said.

In the developing world, HIV-positive women are told to avoid breast-feeding altogether, to give their infants the best chance of remaining HIV-negative. However in the developing world, where they often lack clean water and an affordable, reliable supply of infant food supplement, the World Health Organization recommends that HIV-positive mothers exclusively breast-feed their infants for the first six months.

"We emphasized that it is not a matter of whether women breast feed or not but more about how they are being informed. It's about service providers working in a partnership, not in a directive top down approach, but in a collaborative partnership to make sure all the available information is understood in an accessible format, that women are supported to make their own decisions based on the information at hand," said Ms Donatella.

The MHAHS also presented a poster with Pozhet NSW titled Let's go hetero: using Facebook  to engage with heterosexual and CALD communities. The poster looked at a series of social media campaigns Pozhet NSW implemented with MHAHS which demonstrates how social media campaigns with simple culturally-inclusive messaging, are a cost effective way to reach priority populations in diverse communities.

For more information about MHAHS, visit www.mhahs.org.au or call 95151234.