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November 2013
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ASHMNews: Special conference wrap-up edition

Over five days in October, more than 850 people came to Darwin to participate in the Australasian HIV&AIDS and/or Sexual Health Conferences. In this special conference edition of ASHMNews, we’ll provide you with a summary of headlines from both conferences organised by topic, shown through press releases, articles and the extensive media coverage generated. We hope you enjoy.


HIV&AIDS and Sexual Health Conferences wrap up

ASHM would like to extend a special thank you to the HIV&AIDS Conference Committee and the Sexual Health Conference Committee - as well as the reviewers - for the immense work they put in to make the conferences a successful and engaging experience. Thank you also to our sponsors: Gilead, ViiV Healthcare, MSD, Menarini, Janssen, DoHA, AusAID and many others. A big thank you to all the delegates who helped make these conferences such a great event. Audio Visual Archives (AVA) with support from MSD have webcast the presentations, which will be made available to all conference delegates in December.


New HIV statistics and the Melbourne Declaration Update

The HIV&AIDS Conference was off to a dramatic start with the release of the Annual Surveillance Reports and a press conference providing a critical update on the Melbourne Declaration – a call to action to end HIV released by sector leaders from the 2012 conference. The 10% increase in new HIV infections combined with a score of  just 53% on progress made on the action areas of the Melbourne Declaration generated significant discussion amongst media and delegates alike.

Media highlights:

ASHM member and Queensland GP Dr Fiona Bisshop writes about HIV updates from the conference. From the community perspective, Nic Holas gives a positive point of view on what the recent rise in HIV rates means, and what can be done and Scott Brown writes about behaviour trends and challenges for HIV prevention. Daniel Brace from Living Positive Victoria writes about the results of the HIV Futures Seven survey

Australia's First People and HIV: No time for complacency

James Ward, the Conference Convenor for the HIV&AIDS Conference and Deputy Director of Baker IDI opened the conference with the presentation  "Australia’s first people: Where are we in the epidemic?".  James had just returned from Canada where, although they make up just 3% of the population, Indigenous Canadians account for a disproportionately high number of new HIV infections. 2013 has seen a dramatic increase in new HIV infections amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and although the numbers are still extremely low, the rise has highlighted the need to pay attention to the risks and understand what is driving the increase.

Media highlights:

PrEP: Prescribing anti-HIV drugs to prevent infection

As reports of rising HIV infections in Australia are released, research presented at the conference discussed the role pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) could play in preventing HIV moving forward.  Though not currently available in Australia, a new project in Victoria may be key to the application of PrEP in Australia in the future. ASHM President Edwina Wright spoke with Norman Swan about prevention strategies.

HIV testing

Studies presented at the conference revealed a preference for rapid HIV testing among men who have sex with men. This and the other testing preferences presented are significant to combatting increasing rates of new HIV infection in Australia. New research also demonstrated that doctors and health care workers in general practices across the country feel that more training and information is needed on using HIV rapid tests to maximise their potential.

Media highlights:

HIV treatment and primary care

This year at the conference there was a particular emphasis on how HIV treatment and care can be maximised in the community. A number of separate initiatives were reported on which facilitate primary care management of HIV. One initiative ASHM is exploring is a cycle of care incentive program for GP who care for people living with HIV. The incentive payments are triggered once a GP has completed an annual cycle of care. A consultation document is out for comment and clinicians are invited to comment on this by 30 November 2013. Attendees at the session participated in a lively survey of their management practices. A GP management plan was presented by Dr David Baker, ASHM Clinical Advisor. The antiretroviral guidelines session reviewed current international guidelines and guidance which can be found at Additionally, the ASHM Sub-Committee for Guidance on HIV Management in Australia is conducting an online survey to gather information on how people currently use HIV Antiretroviral (ARV) Guidelines and what other forms of HIV guidance should be developed by ASHM. You can complete the survey here

Sexual health and youth

An online media briefing with conference presenters A/Prof David Wilson, Carol El-Hayek and Prof Alan McKee sparked debate across the country, with new research from the Burnet Institute providing a multi-state perspective on rates of chlamydia in adolescents as young as 12. The coverage that followed ranged from hysterical to thoughtful, but unquestionably led to some important discussions about sexual health and youth.

Media highlights:

Gonorrhoea and syphilis 

Reports released at the conference show that an increase in gonorrhoea and syphilis in Australia is primarily due to a rise in infections amongst men who have sex with men in urban areas. Read the press release for a discussion of these studies and prevention strategies.

STIs and Indigenous Australians

The dramatic discrepancy between rates of STIs in Indigenous Australians compared to non Indigenous Australians once again caught public attention. The press release issued from the conference  urged for increased access to education and health care to address the issue.

HPV: Australia leads the way 

Statistics released at the conference indicate that the Australian HPV vaccination program may lead to the elimination of genital warts and reduction in rates of genital and throat cancers. New research recently published in the MJA supports this, and states that 70 per cent of 12–17 year old girls are completely vaccinated.

ASHM Organisational News

Welcome to ASHM's new Membership Officer

ASHM is pleased to welcome Samantha Budzevski as our new Membership Officer. Samantha has a professional background in membership and customer service, and holds a degree in Pharmacology from Sydney University. We are delighted to have Sam on board as your dedicated Membership Officer. If you have any questions about ASHM membership please email Sam directly or contact ASHM Membership Services on 02 8204 0756.

Is it HIV? A handbook for health care providers is now available in Bahasa Indonesian

Inikah HIV? the Bahasa Indonesian Edition of Is It HIV? is produced by the Indonesian Medical Association with support from ASHM. The book is endorsed by the Ministry of Health of Indonesia and other professional societies in the country. It is a practical resource, available in both hard copy and CD ROM, for Indonesian primary health care providers to facilitate the early detection and treatment of HIV infection. To order ASHM resources visit our website.

Expanding the scope of primary health care nurses

This training has been developed for primary health care nurses whose patients have, or are at risk of, BBVs and STIs. This training will enable nurses to increase their scope of practice in HIV and sexual health, providing them with the clinical skills, confidence and knowledge to expand their role in caring for the sexual health of their patients. The training, run in collaboration with STIPU, involves a combination of online and face-to-face education (Perth and Sydney). To register visit ASHM's training calendar. Contact Emilie Spencer on 02 8204 0734 with any questions.

ASHM Annual and Financial Reports now online

ASHM's Annual Report 2012-2013 and full Financial Report are now available on our website. To order a hard copy of the Annual Report, please contact ASHM on 02 8204 0700.

Other Sector News

Kirby Institute for Infectious Diseases: short course

The Kirby Institute is offering a pilot introductory short  (4-day) course in Infectious Disease Epidemiology from November 25-28 at the UNSW Cliffbrook Campus at Coogee. Read the flyer for more information and how to apply.

Consultation: National conference for women living with HIV

Positive Women Victoria is holding a national consultation to identify what women living with HIV want the national conference, Advancing the Agenda, to include and address. The conference, to be held in Melbourne from Sunday 23 - Monday 24 of March 2014, will focus on advocacy for women living with HIV. You can complete the consultation survey online or  fill out this word document and email it to Conference registrations will open later this month.

NSW STIPU launches STIGMA website

The NSW STI Programs Unit (NSW STIPU) has launched a new website: Sexually Transmissible Infections in Gay Men Action Group (STIGMA). Currently, this new website contains 3 sections: History, STI testing guidelines for MSM and Newsletters. People can download the latest editions of testing guidelines and newsletters from this site.

Position vacant - Clinical Project Coordinator (CEASE) at Kirby Institute

Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales is currently looking for a Clinical Project Coordinator to set-up and manage the Control and Eradication within AuStralia of HEpatitis C from people living with HIV (CEASE) study.  Find out more about this position here.

Conferences and Events

Society of Australian Sexologists Conference

The Society of Australian Sexologists is hosting the next biennial regional conference for the Asia-Oceania Federation for Sexology in Brisbane 22-25 October 2014. This is a multidisciplinary conference covering aspects of positive sexual function and sexual dysfunction in heterosexual and non-heterosexual individuals and couples. The conference website will be live soon.

17th Bangkok International Symposium on HIV Medicine

The 17th Bangkok International Symposium on HIV Medicine will be held at the Queen Sirikit Convention Centre, Bangkok, Thailand from 15-17 January 2014.  This symposium will provide updated knowledge on HIV care and prevention to healthcare professionals. Read the conference brochure and program for more information.

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