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COVID-19 Information

There is a lot of discussion about the illness COVID-19 and some of it is confusing. This fact sheet answers questions and shares tips and referrals for our HIV and LGBTIQ communities.

To help you learn more about COVID-19 as new information is released, NAPWHA has collaborated with Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) a fact sheet, which is now available as a regularly updated webpage here. 

This page was last updated on 27 March 2020.

Some people are more vulnerable

While everyone is at risk of contracting COVID-19, the consequences of infection are more severe for some vulnerable groups. This includes people living with HIV who are:

  • Aged over 60 years old
  • Living with a detectable viral load
  • Diabetic
  • Smokers
  • Living with a co-morbidity such as heart or lung issues

Those people living with HIV (PLHIV) on treatment with an undetectable viral load (and no other significant health condition) are at no greater risk of serious health consequences due to COVID-19 than the general population. That being said, they should still be exercising precautions such as hand-washing, working from home where possible, limiting time on public transport, and avoiding large groups or crowded areas.

Those people living with HIV who fall into one of the vulnerable groups listed above should limit contact with others to avoid potential exposure to COVID-19.

    What to do during these times

     

    If you are living with HIV and are concerned you might be at risk, you should:

    • Maintain regularly scheduled medical appointments, but consider asking your doctor about telehealth consultations
    • Ensure you have between 1-3 month supply of any medications you currently take
    • Avoid stockpiling medications beyond a 1-3 month supply as this could cause unnecessary shortages
    • Be wary of advice or articles in social media — do not modify the medications you currently take or begin taking new medications without first consulting your doctor
    • Keep in touch with friends, colleagues, and family via phone calls and video chat — consider scheduling regular catch ups
    • Influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations should be kept up to date. Vaccinating from April 2020 provides protection before the peak season. Some people are eligible for free vaccination through the National Immunisation Program (NIP) due to their increased risk of complications from influenza.
    • Stay in touch – PLHIV organisations in your Australian State or Territory will continue to have peer support and other community support available by phone, email and online

    This public health issue can be stressful, but our communities have a long history of staying informed and collective action to ensure we look after our health as well as the well-being of those around us. Let’s keep this legacy going as we look after ourselves and those around us.

     

    Stay in touch in with PLHIV organisations

    Australian Capital Territory

    AIDS Action Council of the ACT (AACACT)
    Advice, mental health and social support services, financial assistance, legal advocacy
    Tel: (02) 6257 2855

    New South Wales

    ACON
    HIV prevention, health promotion, advocacy, care and support.
    Tel: (02) 9206 2000
    Free call: 1800 063 060

    ACON Hunter Office Newcastle Tel: (02) 4962 7700

    ACON Mid-North Coast Office Port Macquarie Tel: (02) 6584 0943

    ACON Coffs Harbour Tel: (02) 6651 6017

    ACON Northern Rivers Office Lismore Tel: (02) 6622 1555

    Positive Life NSW
    Advocacy, publications, services, speakers’ bureau, social marketing, education and peer support.
    Tel: (02) 9206 2177
    Free call: 1800 245 677

    HIV Positive Heterosexuals (PozHets)
    Statewide service providing education and support for heterosexuals living with HIV and their families.
    Tel: (02) 9395 0444
    Free call: 1800 812 404

    Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service
    Bilingual/bicultural support and advocacy for people from non-English speaking backgrounds.
    Tel: (02) 9515 1234
    Free call: 1800 108 098 (Rural NSW callers)

    Ankali
    Volunteers provide one-to-one emotional support for people living with HIV, their partners, families and friends. Referrals into counselling and professional support.
    Tel: (02) 9332 9742

    Bobby Goldsmith Foundation (BGF)
    Financial help, supported housing, financial counselling, help with essential bills, loans of essential appliances.
    Tel: (02) 9283 8666
    Free call: 1800 651 010

    Northern Territory

    Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council (NTAHC)
    Education, advocacy & support.
    Tel: (08) 8944 7777

    NTAHC Alice Springs
    Tel:
    (08) 8953 3172

    People Living with HIV/AIDS NT
    Tel: (08) 8944 7777

    Queensland

    Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC)
    HIV education, advocacy & support.
    Tel: (07) 3017 1777
    Free call: 1800 177 434

    QuAC Cairns Tel: (07) 4041 5451 Free call: 1800 884 401

    Queensland Positive People (QPP)
    Peer support, advocacy, treatments and health promotion information.
    Tel: (07) 3013 5555
    Free call: 1800 636 241

    QPP Cairns 
    Tel: (07) 3013 5526

    South Australia

    SA Mobilisation + Empowerment for Sexual Health (SAMESH)
    Support, education and counselling.
    Tel: (08) 7099 5300

    Positive Life SA
    Advocacy and referrals.
    Tel: (08) 8293 3700

    Cheltenham Place/Centacare
    Individualised support program for PLHIV, including home based respite support.
    Tel: (08) 8272 8799

    Personal Education and Community Empowerment (PEACE) Multicultural Services
    HIV support, information and referrals.
    Tel: (08) 8245 8100

    Tasmania

    Tasmanian Council on AIDS Hepatitis & Related Diseases (TasCAHRD)
    Care and support, advocacy, financial support, housing assistance, education.
    Tel: (03) 6234 1242
    Free call: 1800 675 589

    Victoria

    Victorian AIDS Council (VAC)
    Care and support, counselling, medical services, education, advocacy.
    Tel: (03) 9865 6700

    Living Positive Victoria (LPV)
    Support, advocacy, treatments.
    Tel: (03) 9863 8733

    Positive Women – Victoria
    Support and information for positive women and their families and friends.
    Tel: (03) 9863 8747

    Multicultural Health and Support Service
    HIV education, advocacy & support.
    Tel: (03) 9342 9711

    Alfred Hospital – HIV CALD Service
    HIV education & support to PLHIV.
    Tel: (03) 9076 3942

    Western Australia

    Western Australian AIDS Council (WAAC)
    Education, advocacy and support.
    Tel: (08) 9482 0000

    Metropolitan Migrant Resource Centre
    HIV education, advocacy & support.
    Tel: (08) 9345 5755

      COVID-19 BBV and STI Sector Briefing

      Now available:  A COVID-19 BBV and STI Sector Briefing was held on 19 March 2020 jointly with ASHM, Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and Hepatitis Australia to provide the most up to date information on COVID-19 from scientific, clinical, and public health perspectives. The briefing particular focused on what COVID-19 means for our communities, joined by:

      • Professor Sharon Lewin: Infectious Diseases Physician and Director, The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity
      • Mr Kevin Marriott: Acting CEO, Director of Programs and Communications Manager, Hepatitis Australia
      • A/Professor Edwina Wright: Infectious Diseases Physician, Clinical Researcher at the Alfred Hospital and the Burnet Institute
      • Professor Andrew Grulich: Program Head, HIV Epidemiology and Prevention Program, The Kirby Institute

       

       

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