A new stage of growing old with HIV

HIV IS now defined as manageable condition, however for people diagnosed earlier than the mid 1990's, the medical stance was very different and those diagnosed may not have initially expected to live for many years. The improvement of HIV treatment options mean that people can expect to live well and to have a normal life expectancy. (//ght.org.uk/ageing-hiv).

For people who are now ageing and living with HIV further programs are required to specifially research and provide progames for older people with HIV.

The National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) is one of four groups to receive a share in approximately $155,000 funding through ViiV Healthcare's Positive Action Community Grants.

The grant was awarded NAPWHA to explore challenges involved in providing care and quality of life for PLHIV (People living with HIV) and develop an advocacy agenda for HIV and ageing.

NAPWHA Executive Director, Aaron Cogle said the grant would support emerging issues relating to ageing with HIV in Australia such as the impact of co-morbidities.

"This will enable us to plan and respond to this urgent challenge facing the country's ageing and disability sectors, to meet the future needs of Australia's HIV population,”

Due to medical advances people with PLHIV live longer and it's expected that 44% of Australian PLHIV will be aged over 55 by 2020. As the HIV population ages they are likely to experience more health issues than the general population. A better understanding of these issues is required to help PLHIV have a good future quality of life.

The grants support local organisations to implement programs that respond to some of the most pressing issues facing people living with HIV (PLHIV) and reduce the impact of HIV in Australia. Funds are allocated to community-led programs addressing stigma and discrimination; barriers to testing, treatment and care; and quality of life for PLHIV.

Now in its third year, ViiV Healthcare's PACG 2017 program has awarded grants to:

 Living Positive Victoria for a program involving HIV peer-liaison in general practice clinics tosupport retention in care for people newly diagnosed.

Queensland Positive People for a peer-led stigma reduction intervention program to support resilience building, engagement in care and improve quality of life of PLHIV.

Positive Women Victoria for a research project looking at the needs of women from African diaspora communities in Victoria living with HIV to support linkage to care and improvement of quality of life.

"Ensuring our future response to HIV is effective and relevant requires the meaningful involvement of PLHIV. That's why, at ViiV Healthcare, we believe it is crucial that communities have the resources to develop and implement programs that are relevant to their community members. By allocating vital funds where they are needed most, we hope that a real, lasting and positive impact on Australia's HIV community can be achieved.” ViiV Healthcare Australia's Community Affairs Manager, Oonagh Rocks said.

Investigation into HIV care in Australia reveals gaps in the provision of support for people recently diagnosed with HIV. The most recent Kirby Institute Annual Surveillance Report published in 2016 shows that of those living with HIV 90% are diagnosed, but 15% are not in care, 25% are not on antiretroviral therapy and 31% do not have controlled virus levels.iv A PACG grant for Living Positive

Victoria will support community-led action by placing a peer liaison officer in four high HIV-positive case load general practice clinics across Melbourne to respond to these gaps and improve linkage to HIV care for PLHIV in Victoria.

"The immediacy of peer contact for people newly diagnosed with HIV cannot be understated, not only providing support for the individual at a crucial time, but increasing the likelihood of PLHIV remaining in care and not being lost in follow up. Our PACG grant will go a long way in supporting us to improve treatment outcomes for PLHIV in Victoria,” said Suzy Malhotra, Acting CEO Living Positive Victoria.

HIV stigma remains a debilitating feature for those living with the virus and can occur at both the population and individual level.ii Queensland Positive People will be provided with a grant to support the development of a stigma resilience workshop and module for Peer Navigators.

"Queensland differs to other states in that a large percentage of the PLHIV population reside in rural and regional locations making them more vulnerable to social isolation and experiences of stigma and discrimination. By holding peer-led workshops in both Brisbane and in rural Queensland we aim to reach PLHIV right across Queensland,” Queensland Positive People Life+ Program Manager, Chris Howard explained.

With approximately 50% of women recently diagnosed with HIV in Australia coming from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds, including a large percentage (13.7 per 100,000) from Sub-Saharan Africa, the need for greater understanding of the experiences of African-born women living with HIV in Australia has been identified.iv With the support of PACG, Positive Women Victoria is leading a qualitative research project to improve sector-wide understanding in this area.

"At Positive Women Victoria, we've identified African-born women as a hard to reach group and we know that there is a gap in the sector's understanding of the needs of these women. With the support of PACG, we're implementing research to improve understanding of their needs and we hope to see this lead to positive outcomes for these women, including earlier linkage to testing and care services, a reduction in stigma and discrimination, and improvement in their quality of life,” Positive Women Victoria, Chief Executive Officer, Alison Boughey said.

More information about the 2017 PACG programs can be found at www.viivhealthcare.com.au

About ViiV Healthcare

ViiV Healthcare is a global specialist HIV company established in November 2009 by GlaxoSmithK

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