This HIV Testing Week (1-7 June) encourages people to make HIV testing more routine. Aimed at making more people aware of their HIV status, the campaign asks people at risk to make HIV testing a part of their regular self-care.

This campaign encourages people at risk of HIV to ask their doctor for a test, according to Barbara Luisi, Director of the Diversity Programs and Strategy Hub at Sydney Local Health District.
 
“Knowing your HIV test result early means getting the right help on time. With treatment, people have a better chance of living long, healthy lives and not passing on the virus,” said Ms Luisi.
HIV remains a public health concern in Australia with an estimated 29,045 people living with HIV in 2019. According to the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) more than three thousand people remain unaware they have the virus and may be unknowingly passing it on to others. They also risk missing out on getting HIV treatments on time due to late diagnosis.
 
There are a variety of ways to get a HIV test these days, including not having to visit a clinic in person for testing.
 
The online Dried Blood Spot (DBS) Testing allows people to order a free testing kit, do the test in the privacy of their own home and send it to a laboratory to check their results.

The test can be ordered by visiting the DBS site http://www.hivtest.health.nsw.gov.au which also has information in a range of languages including plain English.

The Sydney Local Health District based Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service is supporting the campaign by promoting HIV home testing across Arabic, Chinese, Indonesian and Thai community media.

Visit our campaign page for more details.
An International Student Health Hub was launched in Sydney on March 10 to support overseas students in New South Wales.

Aimed at providing international students information on how to navigate Australia’s health care system, the Hub, launched by the International Students Consortium, will assist students accessing health services including sexual and reproductive health.

“It’s more important than ever that we give overseas students the help they need to stay healthy and enjoy their experience in Australia,” said Wa’el Sabri, Senior Community Engagement Officer at Diversity Hub and Co-leader of the International Students Consortium.
“Navigating our health care system remains a big challenge to most people including our international students. The Hub will provide the international students with a ‘one stop shop’  for all sexual health information needs and enable health care services to work together to enhance the student experience in NSW,” Mr Sabri said.

“Diversity Hub is proud to be one of early founding members of the consortium and be part of the effort to empower this diverse international student population. We are pleased that the consortium found our multilingual HIV website informative and gave a backlink to our site.

“We are calling on all stakeholders to support the Hub, from English language colleges, to community organisations to former international students.”

To explore more, visit the website here.

People from diverse communities are urged to support a new national research project on hepatitis C treatment. In the era of hepatitis C elimination, not enough is known about the experiences of hepatitis C, its treatment and health experiences post-treatment.

Entitled ‘Lived experiences of treatment for hepatitis C in Australia’, the project investigates challenges to hepatitis C treatment uptake, including stigma and ways of improving treatment experiences. This Australian Research Council-funded project will produce a website on personal experiences of hepatitis C that speaks directly to potential treatment users and their friends and families, while also informing health workers and other relevant professionals about the new treatments and the issues surrounding them.

The project aims to interview people undergoing hepatitis C treatment and collect in-depth understanding of their experiences of hepatitis C, treatment and related issues. People with past or present experiences with hepatitis C are encouraged to participate. The team are currently seeking to interview people living in Victoria and New South Wales who:

  • Were diagnosed with hepatitis C after a medical procedure.
  • Have had multiple hepatitis C diagnoses, for example, acquiring hepatitis C again after previously curing it.
  • Contracted hepatitis C overseas.

 Participation involves an audio-recorded one-hour interview with a trained university researcher.

 All participants are reimbursed $50 for their time and contribution to the research.

Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service of Sydney Local Health District is assisting the Research advisory panel to develop materials needed to conduct interviews and, later the website.

If you would like to share your hepatitis C treatment experience, please contact:

Dr Adrian Farrugia
Phone: 0492 150 050
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Starting 2021, temporary visa holders in Australia who are living with HIV will gain access to subsidised HIV treatment and care.

Approved by Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, this change will allow overseas students, workers and others on temporary visas to access subsidised HIV treatment.

The news was welcomed by Donatella Cifali, Senior Social Worker at Diversity Hub’s Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service (MHAHS). 

“We commend the government’s decision to subsidise HIV medications for Medicare-ineligible temporary visa holders. We have long advocated the issue, and believe it is the right step towards equity for all people living with HIV,” said Ms. Cifali. 

A large number of clients with MHAHS are Medicare-ineligible. Up until now, they have had to purchase their own medication at full cost, usually imported generic drugs from overseas or have relied upon compassionate access, which is not uniformly available via health providers.

“It is a relief to know that our clients will now be able to easily obtain health-giving medication just like anyone else. The decision also shows government commitment to ending HIV in Australia and globally,” said Ms. Cifali.

Visit our 2020 World AIDS Day campaign page here.