The National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA), the peak non-government organisation representing community based people living with HIV welcome the release of eighth National HIV Strategy by the Australian government.
NAPWHA, alongside other peak organisations, was consulted during in the development of the strategies, ensuring that the strategies would provide a strong platform for a high quality and coordinated national response to HIV over the coming five years. During this consultation phase, the Femfatale network – NAPWHA’s national network and advisory group for women living with HIV, ran a series of symposia to ensure the voices of HIV positive women were heard. The key messages from these symposia was overwhelmingly for the representation of women across the priority populations.
“Women are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, we are injecting drug users, we are culturally and linguistically diverse and we travel to countries of high (HIV) prevalence. We are trans and gender diverse, we are sex workers, and we are in custodial settings. As a woman living with HIV for more than 30 years and the chair of Femfatales, I am pleased to see that the voices of women have been heard and outcomes for women embedded across the strategy. Myself and the Femfatale network are looking forward to working with the Commonwealth in the implementation of this strategy to apply a gender lens to all aspects of the HIV response to ensure women’s needs are considered and addressed”, said Femfatale chair Katherine Leane.
Women are represented across seven of the eight priority populations identified in the 8th National Strategy
Positive Women Victoria President, Heather Ellis stated: “Positive Women Victoria advocated strongly for the better inclusion of women in the strategies and rigorous outcome measures. Throughout the life of the strategy we will be working collaboratively to make sure that these outcomes are achieved for women”
NAPWHA supports the message that HIV testing is for everyone and that all women should be informed about HIV and have access to a HIV test as a part of their routine sexual health screening, in an environment free from stigma.
Unfortunately women are overrepresented in late presentations of HIV which creates significant health disparities. More regular and frequent testing is one method to address this and is supported by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approval of the Australian-devised and manufactured Atomo HIV Self-Test – a single-use rapid finger prick test that is expected to be available for online purchase in early-2019. This test will improve the frequency, regularity and access to testing which is a key action area in the Eighth National HIV Strategy 2018–2022.
NAPWHA member organisations offer vital peer support to women living with HIV and encourage any woman who feels they are the isolated or the‘only one’ to reach out to their local service or directly to NAPWHA.
NAPWHA are committed to supporting the implementation of this strategy and the other national strategies to work towards the elimination of BBVs as a public health threat, and to reduce the impact of STIs for all Australians.
The five new National BBV and STI Strategies are available at http://www.health.gov.au/sexual-health
For NAPWHA media inquiries contact Katy Roy, National Policy Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org