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

11 May 2013
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Headlines and Comment


Queensland to roll-out free rapid HIV testing

Free rapid HIV tests will be rolled out in key Queensland sexual health clinics from June. Queensland's Ministerial Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS approved the introduction of the test. Committee Chairman Dr Darren Russell said the Committee hoped the introduction of rapid HIV testing would reduce the average time of diagnosis for HIV from more than four years after transmission. Read the Queensland Health press release


Invitation to complete s100 survey

In 2012 we invited s100 prescribers to participate in a survey about their views and prescribing practices. The findings of this survey were recently published. You can read the ASHM media release and summary of the key findings. This year we're inviting all s100 prescribers to participate in a second survey about their views and prescribing practices regarding HIV ART. The ASHM Board will use this information to feed into sector policy and discussion. If you are an s100 prescriber please take about 5 minutes to complete this survey before COB 3 July 2013. All information will be treated confidentially. If you have any questions, please contact Levinia Crooks, CEO ASHM or Limin Mao, Lead Researcher, NCHSR.


ASHM's Position Statement on assisting clinicians in implementing the NSW HIV Strategy 2012-2015

The ASHM Board has endorsed a Communique and Position Statement developed by NSW Board Members that assists clinicians in implementing the NSW HIV Strategy 2012-2015. Since the Strategy was released on World AIDS Day 2012 there has been substantial work occurring to enhance the response to HIV in NSW: the HIV Support Program is about to come online and many of you have contributed to its predecessor, the Time of Diagnosis Project; ACON has launched the Ending HIV campaign; and ASHM is pursuing a number of initiatives at a federal level including engagement with the Commonwealth Department of Health, Colleges and regulatory partners to facilitate the introduction of HIV Point of Care Testing in the community, expanding access to prescribing and dispensing, and removing the arbitrary CD4 <500 cut off for access to HIV antiretroviral therapy. Read ASHM's full Position Statement and the Communique

Australia appointed to UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board 

Australia had been appointed Vice Chair of the Programme Coordinating Board of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in 2013, a role that will see Australia spearhead the global fight against HIV and AIDS.

Should Australia introduce a national chlamydia testing program?

Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek announced $7.9 million for 11 Partnerships for Better Health Partnership Projects including research into medication regimes for kidney transplants, chlamydia testing, work-related asthma and cancer, suicide prevention, and mental health disorders in rural children. Over one million tests are conducted each year in general practice, costing the government $30 million. This evaluation of a well-established trial of chlamydia testing in young adults will resolve the debate of whether annual testing works and is a good use of money. Read more about the chlamydia testing program.

ASHM Organisational News

ASHM’s Clinical Lecture Series now online

ASHM's inaugural Clinical Lecture Series 'Treatment as Prevention?' held in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne in late March has been well received. The keynote presentation was delivered by international speaker Dr Kenneth Mayer, M.D. Professor of Medicine at Harvard, and Director of Research at the Fenway Institute and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Watch the video of keynote presentation.

News from our Organisational Sustaining Members

Hepatitis NSW Counselling Service

Let’s Talk, the Hepatitis NSW Counselling Service is fully operational, with free face-to-face, telephone and online counselling appointments now available. NSW GPs and Health Care Staff can refer their NSW patients with HCV to the service to see the registered psychologist or counsellor. 

Leading community organisations tackle sexual transmission of HCV amongst gay men

In response to recent increases in the sexual transmission of HCV among gay men and MSM, particularly those men living with HIV, AFAO (Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations) has developed a new website The New Deal. In NSW, Hepatitis NSW is working with ACON on an initiative called ‘SexC’ to tackle sexually transmitted HCV among HIV positive gay men. They will utilise The New Deal as a tool to raise awareness. The website has been designed to provide gay men with information about sexual transmission of HCV and how to prevent it, testing for and treatment of HCV, as well as information about HIV and HCV co-infection. Having both HIV and HCV can have serious impacts on the health of HIV positive people. It can make treating both viruses more difficult and can also increase the progression of HCV and liver disease. Read more about the New Deal project

Hepatitis NSW Community Grants 

Hepatitis NSW Community Grants are now open to community organisations and health agencies to run activities during Hepatitis Awareness Week. NSW Hepatitis Awareness Week runs from the 21-27 of July, 2013. World Hepatitis Day is on 28 July. Contact Ruth Bearpark on 02 9332 1853 for a grants application kit. Grant applications close on 7 June 2013.

Women’s Networking Zone at AIDS 2014

For Melbourne, the countdown to the International AIDS Conference 2014 (AIDS 2014) has already begun. Women in Australia and the Asia and the Pacific, in collaboration with global partners, have already mobilised to establish the Women’s Networking Zone (WNZ). At AIDS 2014, the WNZ will provide space, information and sessions focusing on issues affecting women living with HIV. To get involved contact Tania Phillips Positive Women Victoria, or Rebecca Matheson Straight Arrows. 

'My journey kit' for women living with HIV

In May, Positive Women Victoria is launching the ‘My Journey’ Kit for women living with HIV. The resource explores the lifespan of women’s experiences living with HIV. Topics include disclosure, relationships and hope. Written by and for women living with HIV, it encourages women to document their own journey. Contact Positive Women Victoria for more information on 03 9863 8767.

SAS professional development workshops

The Society of Australian Sexologists Ltd (SAS) is holding a series of professional development workshops titled Navigating the talk... Understanding the walk! presented by Prof Barry McCarthy. These one day workshops - held in Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane - will develop a more comprehensive understanding of the many sexual health issues that clients/patients may experience; the impact on the individual and the couple system; and current treatment options. You can register on the SAS website.

Articles of interest: HIV

Recommendation for increased HIV testing in the U.S

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has finalised its recommendation that people from age 15 to 65 be tested for HIV. This changes the current guidelines issued by the USPSTF from 2005 that recommended HIV screening for high-risk individuals. The new guideline is being released after a number of well-publicised cases in which early treatment with a combination of powerful ART has greatly improved patient survival rates. Read the USPSTF Draft Recommendation Statement

New HIV findings reveal genetic double-edged sword

A major international research study published in the journal Science and involving Murdoch University has found that individuals born with high numbers of a receptor known as HLA-C on their cells can naturally inhibit HIV. The researchers demonstrate that increasing surface expression of HLA-C is associated with reduced viral load and reduced rate of progression to low CD4+ T cell counts in African and European Americans.

HIV drugs may help protect young patients' hearts

Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) appears to preserve cardiac function in children and adolescents infected with HIV, researchers have found. Compared with HIV-infected youths treated during a period in which HAART was not widely used, those treated with HAART had significantly better echocardiographic measures of heart structure and function, according to research published in JAMA Pediatrics.

Articles of interest: HCV

New drug might revolutionise hepatitis C treatment

A new drug offers hope to HCV patients who have not responded to interferon and may revolutionise the way the disease is managed. Patients taking the novel polymerase inhibitor sofosbuvir had a 78% response rate compared to zero for those on placebo, a study of nearly 300 HCV patients in several countries including Australia showed. Patients infected with genotype 2 had a much higher clearance rate than those with genotype 3 (93% vs. 61%) although it wasn’t clear why, the authors, including gastroenterologist Dr Stephen Pianko from Monash University, found. 

FDA hepatitis update: Changes to label for Atripla tablets

The FDA recently approved updates to the Atripla (efavirenz/emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) tablet label to include the following information related to use with hepatitis drugs, boceprevir and telaprevir: ATRIPLA is a combination of 2 nucleoside analog HIV-1 reverse transcriptase inhibitors and 1 non-nucleoside HIV-1 reverse transcriptase inhibitor, indicated for use alone as a complete regimen or in combination with other antiretroviral agents for the treatment of HIV-1 infection in adults and pediatric patients 12 years of age and older. Section 12.3 Pharmacokinetics. Boceprevir: Plasma trough concentrations of boceprevir were decreased when boceprevir was coadministered with efavirenz, which may result in loss of therapeutic effect. The combination should be avoided.
Telaprevir: Concomitant administration of telaprevir and efavirenz resulted in reduced steady-state exposures to telaprevir and efavirenz. Atripla is a product of Gilead Sciences and Bristol-Myers Squibb. The complete, revised labeling can be viewed at Drugs@FDA

Articles of interest: HBV

ART for HIV may protect against HBV 

In a study of men with HIV, antiretroviral therapy (ART) with lamivudine or tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) appeared to protect against infection with HBV. Dr Hiroyuki Gatanaga of the National Center for Global Health and Medicine, Tokyo and colleagues, evaluated stocked serum samples from HIV positive men who have sex with men. They found a lower frequency of incident HBV infection under lamivudine and TDF containing ART than under ART without lamivudine and TDF, or without ART at all. The paper was published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

MJA Letter to the Editor: Public health management of HBV contacts

A Letter to the Editor published in the March edition of MJA urged for better public health management of hepatitis B contacts. The writer Karin Leder emphasised that “missed opportunities to diagnose infection or vaccinate susceptible contacts are public health failures.”

Articles of interest: Other STIs

Great rewards on HPV vaccination in Australia 

A landmark study published in the BMJ - Genital warts in young Australians five years into national human papillomavirus vaccination programme: national surveillance data - reveals that in Australia, genital warts have been virtually eliminated in young girls, and attributes this to the success of HPV vaccine in Australia. Prof Basil Donovan, head of the sexual health program at the Kirby Institute, who was involved in the research, said “Australia leads the world. We are now the only country in the world with a national male HPV vaccination program and we have the most highly vaccinated female population. The full benefits will take decades to unravel but the early indications are fantastic.” Read a summary of the results.

Oral sex new risk factor in oesophageal cancer

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is known to cause cervical cancer in women but research from the University of NSW has recently found that it’s implicated in oesophageal cancer, which has been increasing in incidence, especially in men. You can read more and listen to the story on ABC Radio National.

Some types of papilloma virus might prevent cervical cancer

Certain types of papilloma virus might actually prevent cervical cancer, according to a new study by researchers from The University of Manchester. Cervical cancer is known to be caused by infection with approximately 14 so-called ‘high-risk’ types of HPV. Researchers looked at the different types of HPV found in cervical smears and invasive cervical cancers from HIV positive and HIV negative women in Kenya. They found high numbers of a specific type of HPV (type 53) in normal cervical smears from HIV positive women, but this was rarely found in HIV negative women. This sub-type was also never found in cervical cancers from either HIV positive or negative women.

Conferences and Events

Early bird deadline: Gram-Negative Superbugs Meeting

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to attend the Gram-Negative Superbugs Meeting, which will be held on Friday 2 and Saturday 3 August 2013 on the Gold Coast. The early bird deadline of 24 May is approaching.

The 2013 Australasian Sexual Health Conference

The 2013 Australasian Sexual Health Conference is being auspiced by the Australasian Sexual Health Alliance (ASHA). This is a multidisciplinary network including representatives from major sexual health workforce bodies. It aims to strengthen collaboration between specialists, GPs, nurses, researchers and other key contributors. ASHA’s focus is on sexual health education, training, policy-making and research in Australia and the wider Australasian region.

The 2013 Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference 

Start planning your trip to the 2013 Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference now. Abstract submission and registration including accommodation bookings will open mid-May. View guidelines to begin your abstract, as abstract submission deadline is 14 June. Invited speakers secured for the conference include Mark Dybul, Brigitte Autran, George Ayala, Robertson Wilkinson, Kerry Arabena and Evy Yunihastuti. The conference will be held on 21 - 23 October in Darwin, and will be back-to-back with the Australasian Sexual Health Conference. 

30th Annual NRL Workshop on Infectious Diseases

This annual workshop is the only event in the region that uniquely focuses on infectious diseases and issues facing medical laboratory scientists. This year’s event will be held from 30 July - 2 August 2013 at the Cairns Convention Centre. For information see the NRL website or contact  

11th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific

The International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) place will take place in Bangkok, Thailand in November 2013. The theme of this year’s congress is Asia/Pacific Reaching Triple Zero: Investing in Innovation and aims to create a “Game Change” impact on the AIDS response in the Asia and the Pacific region. Find out more about ICAAP 2013

Sexual health workshop in Fremantle, WA

WA Health is running a sexual health workshop in Fremantle on Friday, 2 August. This one day program is designed to increase knowledge and understanding of sexually transmitted infections and their management, and is recommended for health care professionals with an interest in sexual health. Find out more and register.

Other: Corrections from previous edition

The Sexual Health Competency Standards for Primary Healthcare Nurses were developed by NSW STIPU, who were omitted from the previous edition of ASHMNews, and other agencies. 

The Program Trial for HIV Positive Men is a Melbourne based study and not an ACON program as indicated.

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