Support for ending and managing HIV

Australian Government Department of Health, 29 November 2018

The Australian Government is strengthening its commitment to ending HIV with the announcement of funding for a new strategy that aims to virtually eliminate the transmission of HIV, the approval of the first HIV self-testing kit and the listing of a new medicine on the PBS.

The first HIV self-testing kit, the Atomo Self Test was approved for use by the TGA yesterday. The test is a single-use rapid finger stick test for the detection of antibodies to HIV and will enable people to test for HIV in their own home.

This will make testing accessible and convenient especially for people that need to test frequently or do not test at all.

The medicine Juluca® (dolutegravir and rilpivirine), which works to stop the replication of the HIV virus, will be listed on the PBS on December 1, which is World AIDS Day.

 

Australian sex education isn’t diverse enough. Here’s why we should follow England’s lead.

The Conversation, 7 August 2018

By David Rhodes, Senior Lecturer, School of Education, Edith Cowan University

How children are taught about sex, relationships and sexuality at school is shaping up to be a political hot potato in Australia (again).

It’s already been slated to be an issue in the Victorian state elections later this year. That’s just a short time from being on the agenda during the same-sex marriage debate.

Now a radical shift in how children in England are taught about sex, relationships and sexuality promises to be the biggest reform of its kind in nearly 20 years. Here’s what Australia can learn from the new English system.

 

Gonorrhoea: Drug Resistance in Australia

Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO), 26 June 2018

There has long been concern globally about the potential emergence of drug resistant STIs. In response, the World Health Organisation released new treatment guidelines for three common STIs – chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis – in 2016.

At present, strains resistant to first line treatment of syphilis and chlamydia are not common and not a concern in Australia. There is, however, a growing level of concern about gonorrhoea. This paper therefore focuses on the likelihood and implications of the emergence of drug resistant cases of gonorrhoea in Australia. It also highlights treatment options in Australia and current and emerging strategies for preventing drug resistant gonorrhoea.

Download paper: AFAO Brief – Gonorrhoea – Drug Resistance in Australia – 26 June 2018

The time for action on Human T-Lymphotrophic Virus has arrived: An open letter to WHO

Australasian Society for HIV Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), 10 May 2018

ASHM has joined the call by leading Human T-Lymphotrophic Virus 1 (HTLV-1) researchers, clinicians and patients to take action on HTLV-1 by signing an open letter to the WHO, published in an abbreviated form in The Lancet. The letter calls on the WHO to support the promotion of proven, effective transmission prevention strategies for HTLV-1, in much the same way it already does for HIV, HBV and HCV.

ASHM established an 2016, to bring together researches, clinicians and community representatives at an annual round table to raise awareness of HTLV-1 and share the latest information. Up to 40% of the  HTLV-1 working group ipopulation of some Central Australian communities are positive for HTLV-1, which can cause cancer, neurological problems and immune disorders, including chronic lung inflammation leading to bronchiectasis.

“Specifically for Australia, we have all of the key components required for an effective response to this virus – indigenous clinical leadership; the medical research skills and capacity; and two forthcoming developments in treatment and vaccine development,” said Professor Damian Purcell, Head of Molecular Virology Laboratory, The University of Melbourne at the Doherty Institute and member of the ASHM HTLV-1 working group.

“But we need the support of the WHO and Australian Government to accelerate research and implement these strategies.”

ASHM have been advocating for the inclusion of HTLV-1 in the yet-to-be released Fifth National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Blood-Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections Strategy as a Priority Action.

Read the full letter available on the Global Virus Network website

ALHR: Government must do more to protect reproductive health rights

Lawyers Weekly, 22 March 2018

The leading advocacy group for human rights law in Australia has called on the federal government to better ensure the country is meeting its international obligations to protect women and girls when it comes to processes such as abortion. 

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) spoke earlier this week in response to comments from Nationals MP George Christensen and incoming Senator Amanda Stoker, who – at an anti-abortion rally held in Queensland this past Sunday – said they would lobby Treasurer Scott Morrison to cease funding of family planning services that include abortion, both in Australia and internationally.

Expanded HIV PrEP implementation in communities in NSW (EPIC-NSW): design of an open label, single arm implementation trial

BMC Public Health 
https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-017-5018-9

 Published: 2 February 2018

Abstract:

Background

The New South Wales (NSW) HIV Strategy 2016–2020 aims for the virtual elimination of HIV transmission in NSW, Australia, by 2020. Despite high and increasing levels of HIV testing and treatment since 2012, the annual number of HIV diagnoses in NSW has remained generally unchanged. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is highly effective in preventing HIV infection among gay and bisexual men (GBM) when taken appropriately. However, there have been no population-level studies that evaluate the impact of rapid PrEP scale-up in high-risk GBM. Expanded PrEP Implementation in Communities in NSW (EPIC-NSW) is a population-level evaluation of the rapid, targeted roll-out of PrEP to high-risk individuals.

Methods

EPIC-NSW, is an open-label, single-arm, multi-centre prospective observational study of PrEP implementation and impact. Over 20 public and private clinics across urban and regional areas in NSW have participated in the rapid roll-out of PrEP, supported by strong community mobilization and PrEP promotion. The study began on 1 March 2016, aiming to enroll at least 3700 HIV negative people at high risk of HIV. This estimate took into consideration criteria for PrEP prescription in people at high risk for acquiring HIV as defined in the NSW PrEP guidelines. Study participants receive once daily co-formulated tenofovir disoproxil fumarate and emtricitabine (TDF/FTC) and are followed for up to 24 months. Follow-up includes: testing for HIV at 1 month, HIV and other sexually transmissible infections three-monthly, HCV annually and monitoring of renal function six-monthly. Optional online behavioural surveys are conducted quarterly. The co-primary endpoints are (i) HIV diagnoses and incidence in the cohort and (ii) HIV diagnoses in NSW.

Discussion

EPIC-NSW is a population-based PrEP implementation trial which targets the entire estimated population of GBM at high risk for HIV infection in NSW. It will provide a unique opportunity to evaluate the population impact of PrEP on a concentrated HIV epidemic.