Information about TRUVADA and ATRIPLA delisting

Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO), March 30th 2020

From 1 April 2020 Truvada for HIV treatment and for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) will no longer be available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

There are alternatives to Truvada for PrEP in Australia.

Community members eligible for PrEP can access generic versions of Truvada supplied by Apotex, Mylan and Lupin Generic Health. The drugs manufactured by these three suppliers contain the same active ingredients as Truvada.

In addition, from October 2020 Atripla will be delisted. A generic equivalent of Atripla has been approved by the PBS for community members who wish to continue using Atripla.

We encourage you to talk to your prescribing doctor if you want more information about these changes.

For more information, visit the following websites:

Thorne Harbour Health calls for community to stop having casual sex during COVID-19

Thorne Harbour Health – media release, 26 March 2020

For the first time in its four-decade history, Thorne Harbour Health is calling on communities to stop having casual sex in the face of 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Thorne Harbour Health, formerly the Victorian AIDS Council, is calling on LGBTI communities and people living with HIV to limit their risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Thorne Harbour Health CEO Simon Ruth said, “We’re faced by an unprecedented global health crisis. While COVID-19 is not a sexually transmitted infection, the close personal contact we have when during sex poses a serious risk of COVID-19 transmission. We need people to stop having casual sex at this stage.”

“But after four decades of sexual health promotion, we know abstinence isn’t a realistic strategy for most people. We need to look at ways we can minimise risk while maintain a healthy sex life.”

Last week, the organisation released an info sheet with strategies to minimise the risk of COVID-19 while having sex. Strategies included utilising sex tech, solo sexuality, and limiting your sexual activity to an exclusive sexual partner, commonly known as a ‘f*ck buddy’.

“You can reduce your risk by making your sexual network smaller. If you have a regular sexual partner, have a conversation about the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Provided both of you are limiting your risk by working from home and exercising physical distancing from others, you can greatly reduce you chance of COVID-19 transmission,” said Simon Ruth.

The organisation’s stance is not dissimilar from advice from the UK government. Earlier this week, chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries advised couples not cohabitating to consider testing their relationship by moving in together during the country’s lockdown.

Thorne Harbour Health CEO Simon Ruth released a video message today addressing sex & COVID-19 following last week’s message about physical distancing.

Resources Project Officer: job vacancy at NAPWHA

The National Association of People With HIV Australia (NAPWHA), March 2020

NAPWHA is seeking a Resources Project Officer to join their team in Newtown, Sydney and deliver two education projects in 2020.

The ideal applicant will have experience developing online learning resources, ideally in the community health sector and for people living with HIV. They will have experience in project management, working with and managing committees, and delivering projects on budget within a clear deadline. They will also be well-versed in the principles of adult education.

If you have high level resource development skills and enjoy working autonomously and collaboratively within a small team, this may be the job for you. People living with HIV are particularly encouraged to apply.

This four-day a week position is for a 12-month fixed-term contract and carries a total salary package of 60-70K pro rata. Salary packaging is also available.

  • Read more about applying for this job, which closes at 4.00pm on Thursday 9 April 2020, at the PDF here: Resources job ad

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), HIV & hepatitis C: What you need to know

CATIE (Canada), 17 March 2020

  • An HIV-positive person on effective treatment is not expected to be at higher risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19
  • A person with untreated HIV or a low CD4+ cell count may be at higher risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19
  • People with HIV or hepatitis C are more likely to have other conditions that carry a greater risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19

 

 

Update on COVID-19 for PLHIV

SAMESH, March 19, 2020

SAMESH, SHINE SA, and Thorne Harbour Health are encouraging people living with HIV (PLHIV) to take additional precautions in the face of the changing landscape around 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

We want to ensure the ongoing health and wellbeing of all PLHIV who are more vulnerable to COVID-19. This means minimising the risk of exposure to the virus.

While everyone is at risk of contracting COVID-19, the consequences of infection are more severe for some vulnerable groups. This includes PLHIV who are:

  • Aged over 60 years old
  • Living with a detectable viral load or a CD4 count below 500
  • Diabetic
  • Smokers
  • Living with hepatitis B or C
  • Living with a comorbidity such as heart or lung issues

Those PLHIV on treatment with an undetectable viral load (and no other significant health condition) are at no greater risk of serious health consequences due to COVID-19 than the general population. That being said, they should still take the advice of the health department in exercising precautions such as handwashing, working from home where possible, limiting time on public transport, and avoiding large groups or crowded areas.

Those PLHIV who fall into one of the vulnerable groups listed above should limit contact with others to avoid potential exposure to COVID-19.

If you are living with HIV and are concerned you might be at risk, you should:

  • Maintain regularly scheduled medical appointments, but consider asking your doctor about telehealth consultations
  • Ensure you have between 1-3 month supply of any medications you currently take
  • Avoid stockpiling medications beyond a 1-3 month supply as this could cause unnecessary shortages
  • Be wary of advice or articles in social media — do not modify the medications you currently take without first consulting your doctor
  • Contact your doctor about getting vaccinations for influenza and pneumococcal when available
  • Keep in touch with friends, colleagues, and family via phone calls and video chat — consider scheduling regular catch ups
  • Stay in touch – our organisations will continue to release more information and resources as the situation continues to evolve

This public health issue can be stressful, but our communities have a long history of staying informed and collective action to ensure we look after our health as well as the wellbeing of those around us. Let’s keep this legacy going as we look after ourselves and those around us

Increased usage and confidence in antiretroviral PrEP for the prevention of HIV found in UNSW study

UNSW, December 2019

The number of gay and bisexual men using PrEP to prevent HIV infection has almost doubled in the last two years, according to the latest report from the PrEPARE Project.  

The national online survey of Australian gay and bisexual men found that 43% of gay and bisexual men had used the antiretroviral drug in 2019, up from 24% in 2017. This increase aligns with falling HIV infections among gay and bisexual men in many jurisdictions.

The PrEP users surveyed reported positive experiences of using the drug, with the majority reporting reduced concern about HIV and increased sexual pleasure as a result. They also reported fewer concerns about disclosing PrEP use to others.

  • Read the 2019 survey report by the Centre for Social Research in Health.