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

New HIV strain reminds us that innovation is urgent and fundamental

CNN, Updated November 8, 2019

For the first time in 19 years, a team of scientists has detected a new strain of HIV.

The strain is a part of the Group M version of HIV-1, the same family of virus subtypes to blame for the global HIV pandemic. The findings were published Wednesday in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.
HIV has several different subtypes or strains, and like other viruses, it has the ability to change and mutate over time. This is the first new Group M HIV strain identified since guidelines for classifying subtypes were established in 2000. It is important to know what strains of the virus are circulating to ensure that tests used to detect the disease are effective.

 

Could It Be HIV? Video for GPs

Thorne Harbour Health, November 2017

‘Could it be HIV?’ features of the story of Abby Landy, whose story is all-too-common for the many individuals who are given a late HIV diagnosis.

Produced with the support of ViiV healthcare, this video encourages clinicians and doctors to ‘consider HIV’. This clip also features Professor Jenny Hoy from Alfred Health.

“This video is vital. We shouldn’t be missing opportunities to diagnose HIV. With a late diagnoses, there is already substantial damage to the immune system. Diagnosing HIV in a timely manner is paramount — for the benefit of the individual as well as the benefit of the broader community’s health and wellbeing.” – Jenny Hoy

  •  Watch embedded video below:

Updated Guidelines: Australian STI & HIV Testing Guidelines 2019 for Asymptomatic MSM

Sexually Transmissible Infections in Gay Men Action Group (STIGMA), September 2019

Most sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are asymptomatic. Testing and treatment of asymptomatic men who have sex with men (MSM) is the most effective method to interrupt transmission and reduce the burden of illness. In particular, syphilis is increasingly common, is often asymptomatic, and can cause significant morbidity.

The main barriers to STI control are insufficient frequency of testing in MSM, and incomplete testing. For example, chlamydia and gonorrhoea tests should be performed at all three sites (swab of oropharynx and anorectum, and first
pass urine), and syphilis serology should be performed every time a HIV test or HIV treatment monitoring is performed.

HIV is now a medically preventable infection. All men who are eligible under the Australian HIV Pre-Exposure guidelines should be actively offered PrEP: www.ashm.org.au/HIV/PrEP All people with HIV should be advised to commence treatment and, where possible, have an undetectable viral load.
These guidelines are intended for all MSM, including trans men who have sex with other men .

This current version is endorsed by the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, and Sexual Health Medicine, Australasian Sexual Health Alliance, Australasian Chapter of Sexual Health Medicine of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and is approved as an accepted clinical resource by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

HIV and viral hepatitis disclosure [in South Australia] – factsheet

SA Health, updated 2019

Deciding to disclose your HIV or viral hepatitis (hepatitis B or hepatitis C) status is a personal choice. There are few situations where you are legally required to disclose your HIV or viral hepatitis status, however, there may be times when it’s in your best interests to disclose your status even if you are not legally required to do so.

 

In contrast to Australia’s success with hepatitis C, our response to hepatitis B is lagging

The Conversation, October 15th, 2019

Around one-third of Australians living with hepatitis C have been cured in the last four years. Australia’s response to hepatitis C is seen as a leading example around the world, and the elimination of the disease as a major public health threat is looking like an increasingly achievable goal.

But the situation is much less promising for Australians living with hepatitis B, which is now the most common blood-borne viral infection in Australia. It affects more people than hepatitis C and HIV combined.