Everybody Counts was a fitting theme for World AIDS Day 2018. It reflects the diversity of the community living with HIV, those who have lost their lives to HIV-related illness, and the importance of supporting each and every person living with HIV.
More than 36 million people are living with HIV according to the World Health Organization.
Some 30 years on from the emergence of Australia’s AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, the focus now is also on how HIV impacts the ageing process and how people living with HIV often face very difficult and challenging health issues.
Keynote speaker, Burnet’s Head of Public Health, Professor Mark Stoové delivered a very personal and touching tribute to his cousin Isaac Stoové and explained why he was one of the reasons for the change in career direction from sport research to HIV.
Living Positive Victoria’s President, Adam Ehm opened the Victorian WAD 2018 Launch by highlighting the importance of collaborative support and partnerships in addressing the needs of people living with HIV in Victoria.
But he said we must also not forget people around the world who have limited access to HIV treatment and viral load testing. He said the Undetectable = Untransmissable (U=U) statement had now been endorsed in 100 countries globally.
(Image: Living Positive Victoria President, Mr Adam Ehm)
Esteemed Burnet HIV clinician and researcher Professor Suzanne Crowe AM highlighted the advances that have been made since the early 1980s AIDS epidemic but said the impact of HIV on the ageing process was now a research priority.
Victoria Department of Health and Human Services' Mr Peter Breadon said it was important to celebrate the successes but said the sector must not get complacent because some communities are experiencing an increase in new diagnoses in Victoria.
“Melbourne is regarded as a leader in the HIV response and funding a cure. We have strong partnerships, quality research, and the breadth of response includes working with affected communities and those most at risk,” he said.
“We need to make sure that everyone in Victoria has accessible and equitable HIV care.”
(Image: L-R Mr David Menadue, Dr Clovis Palmer, Dr Liz Crock and Ms Bev Greet)
The Community Forum on Living and Ageing with HIV: Rising to the Challenge was moderated by the President of the Victorian African Health Action Network, Dr Chris Lemoh.
“Asking the right questions in research is so important. Political and social context is also key,” he said.
HIV activist Mr David Menadue said: “Managing multiple medical issues is hard. I have six different specialists. Managing your memory cells is just as important!”
(Image: L-R Mr David Menadue, Dr Clovis Palmer and Dr Liz Crock)
Bolton Clarke Clinical Nurse Consultant, Dr Liz Crock said: “It can be difficult if not impossible for some people living with HIV to manage their medical issues and treatment because of cognitive issues. They need special help.”
And indigenous HIV activist Ms Bev Greet said: “Women in the indigenous community account for 30 per cent of women with HIV and only 10 per cent are from the non-indigenous community. Many indigenous women also have co-infections like hepatitis C.There needs to be more training of GPs and healthcare providers, particularly in aged-care.”
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Burnet Institute (Australia) is located on the traditional land of the Boon Wurrung people and we offer our respects to their Elders past and present. We recognise and respect the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of this land.
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