June 2013
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Supporting the HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Workforce

21-23 October 2013
23-25 October 2013



Headlines and Comment

Registration now open: HIV&AIDS and Sexual Health Conferences

Don't miss out on the opportunity to hear Ambassador Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. He is part of an incredible line-up of distinguished speakers from around the world, all coming to Darwin to present to you. Registration for the 2013 Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference and the 2013 Australasian Sexual Health Conference is now open and ASHM members can make great savings by combining Early Bird rates with member discounts. Become a member now.

Comment: New drug to “revolutionise” HCV treatment

For patients undergoing trials of a new interferon-free treatment, the revolution has arrived. The antiviral sofosbuvir has been very effective in phase three trials, with recently reported viral clearance rates of up to 100 per cent. Dr David Baker, an ASHM Clinical Advisor, is a GP in one of the two general practices in Sydney where 12 patients are currently starting treatment. Read our interview with Dr Baker and the sofosbuvir study in the NEJM.

Comment: Stigma limits heterosexuals’ HIV treatment

Diagnoses of HIV attributable to heterosexual contact increased by 31%, from 583 in 2002-2006 to 764 in 2007-2011. However, HIV treatment uptake is lower in heterosexuals than homosexuals, and researchers from the National Centre in HIV Social Research at the University of New South Wales believe stigma is part of the reason. Read the NCHSR study and a comment for ASHMNews by lead author Dr Loren Brener.

From Paris, With Hope

May 2013 marked the 30th anniversary of the discovery of HIV. To celebrate this anniversary, the Institut Pasteur, in collaboration with the U.S. National Institutes of Health, ANRS and sidaction, organised an international symposium 30 years of HIV Science. You can now download many of the speaker presentations and some media interviews:
• IAS Executive Director Bertrand Audoin’s blog in the Huffington Post
• Functional HIV cure is no pipe dream, BMJ interview
• A cure for HIV is now a realistic possibility, the Independent
• HIV cure: The long road ahead, AIDSMAP

ASHM Organisational News

Membership now due for renewal

The financial year is drawing to a close and it’s once again time for membership renewal. To renew your membership please Log in to MyASHM using your username (email address) and password. Renew your membership now.

ASHM welcomes NPED Division Manager

ASHM is pleased to introduce our new National Policy & Education Division Manager, Anna Roberts. Anna has a background in law and public health and has wide-ranging experience working on key HIV and sexual health projects in Bulgaria and Uganda. Anna is originally from the United States, with degrees in Law, Psychology and a Masters of International Public Health. Read Anna’s bio.

Vacancy: ASHM Sub-Committee for Guidance on HIV Management

ASHM is seeking nominations from individuals who are fellows of RACGP or ACRRM, with expertise and experience in HIV management to join our Sub-Committee for Guidance on HIV Management in Australia. One of the primary roles of the Sub-Committee is to oversee the development of ASHM’s clinical guidance on HIV management and antiretroviral guidelines. Please read the Board Policy, including the Terms of Reference. To apply, send an email expressing your interest,outlining your experience to Paula Runnals by COB Friday 28 June 2013.

New edition: HIV Management in Australasia

ASHM is currently reviewing its publication HIV Management in Australasia: a Guide for Clinical Care and we want your input on what format the next edition should take. Do you prefer print or online? Could a bound folder with replaceable chapters work? This is your resource – it’s vital it works for you. Let us know what you think in this short online survey.

NSW Health recognises GP maintenance hepatitis B prescribing

ASHM has worked with the NSW Ministry of Health to facilitate a policy change to formally recognise GP s100 community prescribers for hepatitis B maintenance therapy. Hospital pharmacies now receive notification about qualified community-based practitioners who have an arrangement to prescribe maintenance therapy under the guidance of a treating specialist, ensuring there is no ‘failure to dispense.’ To find out more about the program email

Hepatitis B under the spotlight in new GP education

ASHM and Cancer Council NSW have released a new online learning module for GPs, focusing on Australia’s fastest increasing cause of cancer death – liver cancer. It provides GPs with an overview of hepatitis B, including testing, diagnosis and management. Visit to access the free four-part learning activity: Preventing liver cancer through diagnosis and management of hepatitis B.

Ngarra now open: Have you submitted your project yet?

ASHM is once again hosting the Ngarra showcase as part of the 2013 Australasian HIV&AIDS and Australasian Sexual Health Conferences in Darwin. Ngarra brings together sexual health initiatives developed around the country for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population groups. We are now looking for people and groups who would like to have their work displayed. If you are interested please complete an application form  available on the ASHM website.

HIV Complex Care and Ageing Forum

The South Eastern Sydney Local Health District and ASHM NSW are working in partnership to plan an HIV Complex Care and Ageing Forum. The aim of the forum is to explore the health care needs of HIV positive people living with chronic co-morbid diseases, with a focus on developing effective and sustainable models of integrated care. The forum will be scheduled for August 2013.

s100 survey – more participants required

In 2012 we asked s100 prescribers to participate in an online survey – conducted with NCHSR - about your views and prescribing practices regarding when to initiate HIV antiretroviral therapy (ART). In the last ASHMNews we invited s100 prescribers to participate in a second survey about views and prescribing practices regarding the initiation of HIV ART but we still require more participants. If you are an s100 prescriber please take about 5 minutes to complete this survey. Thank you for your valuable contribution.

News from our Organisational Sustaining Members

The Kirby Institute Inaugural Symposium

The Inaugural Kirby Institute Symposium Treatment as prevention: where to from here? will be officially opened by the Hon. Jillian Skinner, NSW Minister for Health and Minister for Medical Research on June 27. Presentations will include a range of Kirby academics, as well as invited international and national guests, presenting a range of work on related treatment as prevention themes. Please register here or see the full program here.

VHBA: Spotlight on Chronic Hepatitis B

On Monday 29 July 2013, the Victorian HBV Alliance (VHBA) is hosting a free hepatitis B forum for the community and health sector to mark World Hepatitis Day. This forum will explore ways to improve treatment, management and care for people living with chronic hepatitis B.

NCHSR director co-authors research on pornography and risky behaviour

Concerns have been voiced that the use of sexually explicit materials (SEMs) may adversely affect sexual behaviors, particularly in young people. In this study, co-author John de Wit, Director of the National Centre in HIV Social Research at the University of NSW, argues the findings suggested the increasing prevalence of sexually explicit material was having less impact than previously thought. Read the NCHSR research and the coverage in the SMH.

APNA: ‘Reducing Risky Drinking' online course

Some people need professional help to address their drinking problem and problems related to drinking. This course has been designed to provide healthcare professionals with an introduction to Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) for addressing risky alcohol use in primary health. Visit the APNA website for more information.

Introducing the Society of Australian Sexologists

ASSERT National has relaunched as The Society of Australian Sexologists Ltd (SAS). Today there is far greater awareness of the need to include sexual dysfunction assessment when clients present with sexual health concerns. If you are a professional involved in sexual health, consider becoming a member of the Society of Australian Sexologists.

Other Sector News

Overseas volunteer opportunities for health professionals

Interested in working overseas? The International Skills and Training Institute in Health (ISTIH) is an Australian based, not-for-profit organisation who aims to develop, introduce and assist with new or existing health training programs in developing countries. Their new online web portal connects Australian clinical and allied health workers with volunteering opportunities. It also provides a platform for organisations to promote their activities and advertise for clinical volunteers.

Participants needed: HIV-related neurocognitive disorders

Researchers at the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre at the University of New South Wales are conducting a study to learn more about younger people with memory and related disorders, and their families. They wish to ensure that the needs and experiences of people with HIV-related neurocognitive disorders (HAND) are represented, as a group that may not traditionally fit into or identify with dementia services. Find out how you can contribute to this important study.

The NSW HIV Support Program: Enhanced Support for People Newly Diagnosed with HIV

The NSW HIV Support Program (HSP) is being initiated in response to a commitment within the NSW HIV Strategy 2012-2015 to reduce new HIV infections. The (HSP) Program builds on the strengths of the NSW Health and ASHM Time of Diagnosis project to provide advice and support for doctors and their patients at the time of a new diagnosis of HIV. Doctors will be able to access different levels of support according to their experience and the needs of their patient. Read more about the HSP or email

Hepatitis Queensland: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy workshop

Hepatitis Queensland is seeking expressions of interest for participation in a six-week Cognitive Behavioural Therapy workshop for people living with viral hepatitis. The workshop provides the opportunity to improve capacity and better manage periods of emotional distress (depression, anxiety, stress) and to develop and implement personal action plans based on core values and current experiences. Registration of interest closes Monday 17 June 2013, for a Friday 22 June 2013 start date.

Articles of interest: HIV

Study shows pill prevents HIV among injecting drug users

Injecting drug users who took a daily antiretroviral pill were half as likely to become infected with HIV as those who did not, a major new study has found. Read the study in the Lancet and the article about it in the New York Times.

8th International Conference on HIV Treatment and Prevention Adherence

Articles from the 8th International Conference on HIV Treatment and Prevention Adherence are now available. Read the conference news.

UK doctors call for law to protect them against HIV

Laws which were introduced in Britain in 2007 mean that surgeons and anaesthetists who become injured during operations, or from needle-sticks, are forced to endure months of preventive treatment against HIV if there is a risk that an unconscious patient has the virus. British doctors at a conference in Spain made a plea for the law to be changed. Read the story in the

At-risk groups focus of concern for HIV

The national strategies for combatting BBVs and STIs expire at the end of the year and the mid-term review gives an up-to-date appraisal of the challenges associated with HIV especially. Cashed-up miners who holiday in Asia and new arrivals from sub-Saharan Africa should be monitored more closely for HIV, according to a federal government review. Read the article printed in the Australian and the mid-term review.

Community viral load is flawed

US researchers from the University of Chapel Hill in North Carolina, including Myron Cohen, principal investigator of the HPTN 052 study, have criticised the use of 'Community Viral Load' (CVL) as an indicator of the success of HIV treatment as prevention, especially as a measure of the average infectiousness of people with HIV. Read the study in the Lancet and the write up by NAM.

Scientists crack HIV coating, leading to possible AIDS cure

A research team from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine was able to use a supercomputer from the University of Illinois known as "Blue Waters" to reveal "seams" in the HIV's capsid, the protein casing of a virus that holds its DNA. Read the article in Nature.

'Gap' for HIV vaccine efforts after latest setback

The hunt for an HIV vaccine has cost up $8 billion in the past decade, and the failure of the most recent efficacy trial has delivered yet another setback to 26 years of efforts. With the next attempts expected to be years away, top researchers now say there is a "void" or a "gap" in current clinical trial efforts to test whether a vaccine may be safe and effective in people. Read the full AFP article.

Ageing HIV positive demographic highlights need for community support

Not long ago, it would have seemed unthinkable: HIV is becoming a disease of the middle-aged. Nearly half of New Yorkers with HIV are now 50 or older, ages many never dreamed of reaching. Now this group of almost 50,000 men and women moving through middle age is a living science experiment, entering medical and psychological territories that are largely uncharted. Read the article in the New York Times.

Global Fund selects its next Board Chair and Vice-Chair

The Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has selected Nafsiah Mboi of Indonesia to be its next Board Chair and Mireille Guigaz of France as its next Board Vice-Chair. Both will begin a two-year term starting in late June, 2013. Read about their appointment.

Articles of interest: HCV

Officers dig in as hepatitis cases rise

Hepatitis C cases are rising among ACT jail inmates as prison guards remain opposed to a new push to start a needle-exchange program at Alexander Maconochie Centre. Read the article in the Canberra Times.

Articles of interest: HBV

Financial incentive aids drug users to complete hep B vax

A modest financial incentive may increase the likelihood of people who inject drugs completing a course of hepatitis B vaccine, an Australian trial shows. Researchers in Sydney found drug users who received $30 cash on receipt of both the second and third doses, were more likely to complete the course in a specified time period compared to those in a control group not receiving money (92% vs 67%). Read the news item in Medical Observer.

Hepatitis B viral levels may soar when vitamin D drops

Insufficient serum levels of vitamin D, which ebb and flow with sun exposure, are associated with high levels of hepatitis B virus (HBV) replication in treatment-naive people who suffer from chronic infection. Read about the study in Hepatology.

Anti-HBV vaccine fails cgainst chronic hepatitis B

A therapeutic vaccine candidate, aimed at breaking immune tolerance to the hepatitis B virus, failed in a recent trial, but the researchers believe the problem is that the adjuvant itself was too potent. Read the Reuters Health report.

Articles of interest: Other STIs

STI rates soar among the over-50s

New cases of chlamydia among Australians aged 40 to 85 have jumped 17 per cent in the past three years, while the incidence of gonorrhoea has risen 44 per cent in the same period, an analysis by Family Planning NSW reveals. Read the article in the SMH.

Anonymous STI alerts prove popular

A text messaging service that allows people with STIs to inform their partners anonymously has proved popular with both patients and hoaxers. Read the study in Sexual Health and the associated news item in 6 minutes. For more information on contact tracing refer to ASHM’s Australasian Contact Tracing Manual.

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