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

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health survey shows mixed outcomes

Australian Bureau of Statistics, 11/12/2019

A new report shows mixed health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a reduction in smoking and improvements in how people feel about their health, but an increased proportion of people with chronic conditions causing significant health problems.

The 2018-19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) examines long-term health conditions, risk factors, and social and emotional well-being indicators. The survey included Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all states and territories and included people in both non-remote and remote areas.

Contents include:

Smoking and HIV: what are the risks and what harm reduction strategies do we have at our disposal?

AIDS Res Ther. 2018 Dec 12;15(1):26. doi: 10.1186/s12981-018-0213-z.

Abstract

The World Health Organization estimates that smoking poses one of the greatest global health risks in the general population. Rates of current smoking among people living with HIV (PLHIV) are 2-3 times that of the general population, which contributes to the higher incidence of non-AIDS-related morbidity and mortality in PLHIV.

Given the benefit of smoking cessation, strategies to assist individuals who smoke to quit should be a primary focus in modern HIV care.

Tobacco harm reduction focuses on reducing health risk without necessarily requiring abstinence. However, there remains uncertainty about the safety, policy and familiarity of specific approaches, particularly the use of vaporised nicotine products. Evidence suggests that vaporised nicotine products may help smokers stop smoking and are not associated with any serious side-effects. However, there is the need for further safety and efficacy data surrounding interventions to assist quitting in the general population, as well as in PLHIV specifically.

In addition, official support for vaping as a harm reduction strategy varies by jurisdiction and this determines whether medical practitioners can prescribe vaporised products and whether patients can access vaporised nicotine products. When caring for PLHIV who smoke, healthcare workers should follow general guidelines to assist with smoking cessation.

These include: asking the patient about their smoking status; assessing the patient’s readiness to quit and their nicotine dependence; advising the patient to stop smoking; assisting the patient in their attempt to stop smoking through referral, counselling, pharmacotherapy, self-help resources and/or health education; and arranging follow-up with the patient to evaluate their progress.

Media release from SHINE SA: Teen Pregnancy

SHINE SA, Issued: 25 May 2018

Following the release of the Australian Institute of Health and Wellbeing’s Report, that includes the latest figures on teen birth-rates, SHINE SA believes that a decrease in the teen birth-rate as indicated in the report, is a positive outcome from the study.

“A decrease may reflect better sexual health information for young people including education in schools, and better access to sexual health services”, said Dr Amy Moten, Coordinator, Medical Education at SHINE SA.

“Increased access to Long Acting reversible Contraception for young people, as promoted by Family Planning Alliance Australia, is also a significant factor in reducing teen pregnancy rates”, Dr Moten said.

Low socio-economic status can be a marker of poor health outcomes overall. This increases with remoteness from metropolitan areas and Indigenous status. This has been shown in previous studies and also is supported by national data regarding cervical screening that shows that low socio-economic and Indigenous status reduces the rate of screening compared to people from a higher socioeconomic areas.

Social determinants of health are linked to social and economic factors that influence health. Young people from a lower socioeconomic area are likely to have poorer health literacy, lower levels of education and poorer access to health services including contraception. These have all been shown to be linked to an increased birth rate over all ages. Barriers to access health and contraceptive services such as cost and availability of these services increase with distance from metropolitan areas.

“Generally, teen mums often face increased stigma about being a parent and should be supported in their decision to continue parenting”, Dr Moten said.

“At SHINE SA, we provide pregnancy testing, counselling and advice. When a young person is pregnant they can discuss their options and be referred to appropriate services. For a young person continuing to parent we would refer them to the Metropolitan Youth Health Service for example, which has a Young Parenting program”, Dr Moten said.

SHINE SA believes that young mums should be supported to continue their education as completing secondary school after pregnancy has been shown to improve long term outcomes in both mother and child.

Dr Amy Moten, Coordinator Medical Education, SHINE SA
Issued: 25 May 2018

 

Poorer outcomes for babies born to teen mums – often linked to low socioeconomic status

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare,  02 May 2018

Babies of teenage mothers often experience poorer health outcomes than babies born to women just a few years older, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) first report on this subject.

The report, Teenage mothers in Australia 2015, shows that about 8,200 teenage mothers gave birth to 8,300 babies (3% of all babies) in 2015, down from 11,800 teenage mothers giving birth a decade earlier. Almost three-quarters of teenage mothers were aged 18 or 19.

One in 4 (24%) of all teenage mothers were Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. Indigenous teenage mothers had higher levels of antenatal risk factors and poorer baby outcomes than non-Indigenous teenage mothers in terms of pre-term birth
and low birthweight.