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ViiV Health­care awards new grants to ac­cel­er­ate com­mu­nity-led so­lu­tions to HIV chal­lenges. Four Aus­tralian HIV com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions have re­ceived a share in close to $155,000 fund­ing through ViiV Health­care’s Pos­i­tive Ac­tion Com­mu­nity Grants (PACG) 2017 pro­gram. The grants sup­port lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions to im­ple­ment pro­grams that re­spond to some of the most press­ing is­sues fac­ing peo­ple liv­ing with HIV (PLHIV) and re­duce the im­pact of HIV in Aus­tralia. Funds are al­lo­cated to com­mu­nity-led pro­grams ad­dress­ing stigma and dis­crim­i­na­tion; bar­ri­ers to test­ing, treat­ment and care; and qual­ity of life for PLHIV.

Now in its third year, ViiV Health­care's PACG 2017 pro­gram has awarded grants to:

- National As­so­ci­a­tion of Peo­ple with HIV Aus­tralia (NAPWHA) for a HIV and age­ing pro­gram to ad­dress re­ten­tion in care and qual­ity of life for PLHIV.

- Liv­ing Pos­i­tive Vic­to­ria for a pro­gram in­volv­ing HIV peer-li­ai­son in gen­eral prac­tice clin­ics to sup­port re­ten­tion in care for peo­ple newly di­ag­nosed. - Queens­land Pos­i­tive Peo­ple for a peer-led stigma re­duc­tion in­ter­ven­tion pro­gram to sup­port re­silience build­ing, en­gage­ment in care and im­prove qual­ity of life of PLHIV.

- Pos­i­tive Women Vic­to­ria for a re­search project look­ing at the needs of women from African di­as­pora com­mu­ni­ties in Vic­to­ria liv­ing with HIV to sup­port link­age to care and im­prove­ment of qual­ity of life.

“En­sur­ing our fu­ture re­sponse to HIV is ef­fec­tive and rel­e­vant re­quires the mean­ing­ful in­volve­ment of PLHIV. That’s why, at ViiV Health­care, we be­lieve it is cru­cial that com­mu­ni­ties have the re­sources to de­velop and im­ple­ment pro­grams that are rel­e­vant to their com­mu­nity mem­bers. By al­lo­cat­ing vi­tal funds where they are needed most, we hope that a real, last­ing and pos­i­tive im­pact on Aus­tralia’s HIV com­mu­nity can be achieved.” ViiV Health­care Aus­tralia's Com­mu­nity Af­fairs Man­ager, Oon­agh Rocks said.

Med­i­cal ad­vances are en­abling PLHIV to live longer and it's ex­pected that 44% of Aus­tralian PLHIV will be aged over 55 by 2020.i,ii As the HIV pop­u­la­tion ages they are likely to ex­pe­ri­ence more health is­sues than the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion.iii A bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of these is­sues is re­quired to help PLHIV have a good fu­ture qual­ity of life. The National As­so­ci­a­tion of Peo­ple with HIV Aus­tralia (NAPWHA) has been awarded a grant to ex­plore these chal­lenges and de­velop an ad­vo­cacy agenda for HIV and age­ing.

“Our PACG grant will sup­port re­search into the emerg­ing is­sues re­lat­ing to age­ing with HIV in Aus­tralia, such as the im­pact of co­mor­bidi­ties. This will en­able us to plan and re­spond to this ur­gent chal­lenge fac­ing the coun­try’s age­ing and dis­abil­ity sec­tors, to meet the fu­ture needs of Aus­tralia’s HIV pop­u­la­tion,” NAPWHA Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor, Aaron Cogle ex­plained.

In­ves­ti­ga­tion into HIV care in Aus­tralia re­veals gaps in the pro­vi­sion of sup­port for peo­ple re­cently di­ag­nosed with HIV. The most re­cent Kirby In­sti­tute An­nual Sur­veil­lance Re­port pub­lished in 2016 shows that of those liv­ing with HIV 90% are di­ag­nosed, but 15% are not in care, 25% are not on an­tiretro­vi­ral ther­apy and 31% do not have con­trolled virus lev­els.iv A PACG grant for Liv­ing Pos­i­tive Vic­to­ria will sup­port com­mu­nity-led ac­tion by plac­ing a peer li­ai­son of­fi­cer in four high HIV-pos­i­tive case load gen­eral prac­tice clin­ics across Mel­bourne to re­spond to these gaps and im­prove link­age to HIV care for PLHIV in Vic­to­ria.

“The im­me­di­acy of peer con­tact for peo­ple newly di­ag­nosed with HIV can­not be un­der­stated, not only pro­vid­ing sup­port for the in­di­vid­ual at a cru­cial time, but in­creas­ing the like­li­hood of PLHIV re­main­ing in care and not be­ing lost in fol­low up. Our PACG grant will go a long way in sup­port­ing us to im­prove treat­ment out­comes for PLHIV in Vic­to­ria,” said Suzy Mal­ho­tra, Act­ing CEO Liv­ing Pos­i­tive Vic­to­ria.

HIV stigma re­mains a de­bil­i­tat­ing fea­ture for those liv­ing with the virus and can oc­cur at both the pop­u­la­tion and in­di­vid­ual level.ii Queens­land Pos­i­tive Peo­ple will be pro­vided with a grant to sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of a stigma re­silience work­shop and mod­ule for Peer Nav­i­ga­tors.

“Queens­land dif­fers to other states in that a large per­cent­age of the PLHIV pop­u­la­tion re­side in ru­ral and re­gional lo­ca­tions mak­ing them more vul­ner­a­ble to so­cial iso­la­tion and ex­pe­ri­ences of stigma and dis­crim­i­na­tion. By hold­ing peer-led work­shops in both Bris­bane and in ru­ral Queens­land we aim to reach PLHIV right across Queens­land,” Queens­land Pos­i­tive Peo­ple Life+ Pro­gram Man­ager, Chris Howard ex­plained.

With ap­prox­i­mately 50% of women re­cently di­ag­nosed with HIV in Aus­tralia com­ing from Cul­tur­ally and Lin­guis­ti­cally Di­verse (CALD) back­grounds, in­clud­ing a large per­cent­age (13.7 per 100,000) from Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa, the need for greater un­der­stand­ing of the ex­pe­ri­ences of African-born women liv­ing with HIV in Aus­tralia has been iden­ti­fied.iv With the sup­port of PACG, Pos­i­tive Women Vic­to­ria is lead­ing a qual­i­ta­tive re­search project to im­prove sec­tor-wide un­der­stand­ing in this area.

“At Pos­i­tive Women Vic­to­ria, we’ve iden­ti­fied African-born women as a hard to reach group and we know that there is a gap in the sec­tor’s un­der­stand­ing of the needs of these women. With the sup­port of PACG, we’re im­ple­ment­ing re­search to im­prove un­der­stand­ing of their needs and we hope to see this lead to pos­i­tive out­comes for these women, in­clud­ing ear­lier link­age to test­ing and care ser­vices, a re­duc­tion in stigma and dis­crim­i­na­tion, and im­prove­ment in their qual­ity of life,” Pos­i­tive Women Vic­to­ria, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer, Ali­son Boughey said.

More in­for­ma­tion about the 2017 PACG pro­grams can be found at www.vi­ivhealth­care.com.au

Ref­er­ences: i Jans­son J, Wil­son DP (2012) Pro­jected De­mo­graphic Pro­file of Peo­ple Liv­ing with HIV in Aus­tralia:

Plan­ning for an Older Gen­er­a­tion. PLoS ONE 7(8): e38334. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038334 ii ACON Health Out­comes Strat­egy 2017-2021. Age­ing. Avail­able on­line: http://www.acon.org.au/wp-con­tent/up­loads/2017/09/ HOS-Age­ing-2017_V6_web.pdf iii Nasi et al. 2016. Age­ing and in­flam­ma­tion in pa­tients with HIV in­fec­tion. Avail­able on­line: http://on­lineli­brary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cei.12814/pdf iv Kirby In­sti­tute. 2016. HIV, vi­ral hep­ati­tis and sex­u­ally trans­mis­si­ble in­fec­tions in Aus­tralia. An­nual Sur­veil­lance Re­port 2016. Avail­able on­line: https://kirby.unsw.edu.au/re­port/an­nual-sur­veil­lance- re­port-hiv-vi­ral-hep­ati­tis-stis-2016

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