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National Day of Women Living with HIV — Awareness. Celebrate. Advocate. Inspire. Empower.

National Day of Women Living with HIV — Awareness. Celebrate. Advocate. Inspire. Empower.

March 9, 2019 will be the fourth National Day of Women Living with HIV (#NDWLHIV). Coming the day after International Women’s Day, this awareness-raising day was created by Femfatales, a network of women living with HIV of the National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA).

“We are aiming to create a greater awareness of the needs of women living with HIV in Australia, “said Femfatales Chair, Katherine Leane. “It’s hard to believe that in 2017 some people don’t think that there are women living with HIV in this country. But there are around 3,000 of us, or about 10 per cent of the HIV-positive population.

“Because of the perception that women are not at risk of HIV, women don’t test for it. Many women who are diagnosed with HIV here have never tested for it previously, not believing they were at risk. This can present them with serious health challenges as a late diagnosis can mean that they have developed a compromised immune system and sometimes, an AIDS-defining illness.

“On top of this, many suburban and regional GPs have never diagnosed someone with HIV, do not always recognise the symptoms or risk factors and are not sure where to refer patients for specialist care. It is very important that women diagnosed in these settings get referred to appropriate medical care and to the peer support agencies that can help people with their diagnoses.

“The more people talk about HIV, the more we encourage women to test for it, the more we will be able to diagnose and treat women appropriately. This is the aim of this special day, “said Kath. “We encourage all agencies involved with and concerned about women’s sexual health to hold a morning or afternoon tea or other event to help raise awareness of HIV agencies that support women living with and affected by HIV.”

For more details

  • Femfatales Convenor — Katherine Leane — 0410 707 923
  • NAPWHA Executive Director — Aaron Cogle — 0468 438 214

NAPWHA is Australia’s peak non-government organisation representing community-based groups of people living with HIV. NAPWHA provides advocacy, policy, representation, health promotion and outreach at a national level.

‘Taking control of our health’ marks the theme of 2021 National Day of Women Living with HIV

Each year, on March 9, the National Network of Women Living with HIV (Femfatales) celebrate the lives of women with HIV in Australia. We use this day to educate the wider community that HIV does affect women in Australia; and to speak to our network about issues of importance.

Please join our National Network of Women Living with HIV to mark Tuesday 9 March as the National Day of Women Living with HIV and to embrace our theme: Taking Control of our Health.

Read the message below from Kath Leane, Femfatales and also a listing of events around Australia. All organisations, agencies and groups interested in women’s health are invited to hold a morning tea or similar event to show your support.

Video:  A special HIV is: Just a Part of Me release featuring Jane Costello (CEO of Positive Life NSW), Natasha Io (Board Member of Positive Life NSW), and Michelle Tobin (Aboriginal woman of the Yorta Yorta Nation who is also a descendant of the Stolen Generation).

Message from Femfatales Chair, Kath Leane

Dear Colleague,

Each year, on March 9, the National Network of Women Living with HIV (Femfatales) celebrate the lives of women with HIV in Australia. We use this day to educate the wider community that HIV does affect women in Australia; and to speak to our network about issues of importance.

This year’s National Day of Women Living with HIV (#NDWLHIV) theme is: Taking control of our health because it is important for women living with HIV to focus on their sexual and reproductive health.

We also want to remind all women to prioritise their own healthcare and seek an HIV test as part of their routine health check. Women often forego their own needs to meet the demands of others they care for. Creating the time and a reminder to prioritise their health needs can only have a positive outcome.

Worldwide, there are 38 million people living with HIV and 21 million of these are women. The percentage is much smaller in Australia, with women making up only 10% of the estimated 37,000 people living with HIV in this country. With smaller numbers, women are often not seen as a priority. So, apart from feeling like an invisible minority, women’s voices are often underrepresented.

Femfatales invites all organisations, agencies and groups interested in women’s health to hold a morning tea or similar event to show your support.

We invite our Australian HIV State and Territory jurisdictions to commit to holding an event that will create an opportunity where women can “Celebrate, Advocate, Inspire and Empower”.

Please join our National Network of Women Living with HIV to mark Tuesday 9 March as the National Day of Women Living with HIV and to embrace our theme: Taking Control of our Health.

Katherine Leane
Chair, National Network of Women Living with HIV

Illustration by Carolina Relander. Further illustrations have been commissioned for a forthcoming 2021 relaunch of the Living Well: Women with HIV website by NAPWHA and AFAO.

A media release of ‘Taking Control of Our Health’ marks the 6th National Day of Women Living with HIV was also published on 5 March 2021

Women’s Brunch Event in Perth — Sun 7 March

Diane Lloyd

For women living with HIV in Perth, join a brunch hosted by Diane Lloyd, HIV Advocate for NAPWHA’s Health Literacy Framework project; and Positive Organisation WA board member.

The brunch will be held on Sunday  7 March 2021 at Stickybeaks Playground Café located in: Kings Park and Botanic Garden.

Register your interest by contacting Diane via email at info@napwha.org.au

Women’s Morning Tea Event in Adelaide — Tues 9 March

National Day of Women Living with HIV Adelaide Morning Tea

Women’s Afternoon High Tea Event in Sydney — Tues 9 March

Go to the Positive Life NSW webpagePositive Life NSW invite you to an afternoon high tea for National Day of Women Living with HIV on 9 March 2021

Positive Life NSW and Femfatales invites you and a guest to attend an Afternoon High Tea on Tuesday 9 March 2021, the National Day of Women living with HIV, in celebration of the lives of women living with HIV (WLHIV).

This year’s theme for the sixth annual National Day of Women living with HIV is ‘Taking Control of Our Health.’

Join us to hear Associate Professor Kathy Petoumenos from the Kirby Institute present on the CLIO WLHIV Cohort study and the importance of WLHV participating in research to gain a greater understanding of how HIV affects our bodies.

We invite you to relax with friends and supporters in a mixed social environment over a classic range of sweet and savoury treats, coffee and a range of tea selections.

Places limited to 50 guests – please RSVP early!

Women’s Dinner Event in Darwin — Sat 27 March

NTAHC logo

For women living with HIV in Darwin, join a dinner hosted in conjunction with Rebekah Lamb (Women’s Coordinator) of NTAHC. This event is part of the Health Literacy Framework project; and held in conjunction with NTAHC.

The dinner will be held on the evening of Saturday 27 March 2021, subject to number of expressions of interest.

Register your interest by contacting Rebekah Lamb via email at rebekah.lamb@ntahc.org.au

HIV s100 Prescriber Update – Women
Living with HIV Webinar Series

For HIV s100 Prescribers and medical practitioners interested in HIV care:

In honor of the National Day of Women Living with HIV, ASHM (the national accreditation body for HIV prescribers in primary health settings) has partnered with Positive Life NSW to deliver a two-part webinar series. Each session will include presentations from those with lived experience as well as experts in the field.

Part 1 on 9 March 2021 will be presented by Dr Louis Tomlins, General Practitioner and Sexual Health Physician at Taylor Square Private Clinic and Staff Specialist at Western Sydney Sexual Health Centre. Her presentation will focus on HPV related cancers and cervical screening guidelines.

Click here to download the flyer

Part 2 on 16 March 2021 of this series will be presented by Professor Deborah Bateson, Medical Director at Family Planning NSW, who will lead a discussion on contraception and menopause. The session will also include a presentation by Dr Virginia Furner, Senior HIV Consultant at The Albion Centre, who will be discussing ASHM’s guidance on women living with HIV who are considering breastfeeding.

Click here to download the flyer

Watch: U=U is Your Story Too (Webinar for Women)

In November 2020, Positive Women Victoria presented a groundbreaking forum and Australian-first, U=U is Your Story Too.

A panel discussion focused on the Undetectable = Untransmittable message as it relates specifically to women.

Watch: U=U is Your Story Too, via the Positive Women Victoria website

‘Taking Control of Our Health’ marks the 6th National Day of Women Living with HIV

Media Release

On Tuesday 9 March, National Network of Women Living with HIV (Femfatales), celebrate the 6th National Day of Women Living with HIV (#NDWLHIV).

Our 2021 theme ‘Taking Control of Our Health’, reminds all women, regardless of our HIV status, to focus on our own health and wellbeing.

During the recent and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have neglected or postponed our sexual and reproductive health checks. Now is the time to resume our crucially important health tests, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, cervical screening tests, breast checks and sexual health screens including a HIV test, said Ms Katherine Leane, Chair of Femfatales.

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which commonly affects all sexually active adults, both men and women, poses an increased health risk for women living with HIV,” said Ms Leane.

“We live with an risk of developing cervical cancer roughly six times higher than people who are HIV-negative. We also have anywhere between seven to 28 times higher the risk of invasive anal cancer compared with the general female population.”

“Given this increased risk of HPV-related cancers, early detection is vital and saves women’s lives. Regular sexual health checks and HIV screening protects the health of all women, living with HIV or not. When HIV is disregarded as a possible cause of illness in women, we are not offered HIV testing and diagnosed late. This in turn impacts our long-term sexual, emotional, reproductive, neurocognitive and immune health.

“In Australia, ten percent of people living with HIV are women, which means there is around 3,495 women living with HIV in Australia today”, says Ms Leane.

Taking control of our health is about more than just our physical medical care, it includes positive self-care which encompasses our physical and emotional wellbeing, maintaining honest, open and frank conversation with our healthcare professionals and positive self-regard for our needs.

“Heterosexual transmission of HIV has risen in recent years and all sexually active women deserve to be offered regular STI tests, including HIV, free of judgement, stigma or perceived risk,” said Ms. Leane.

On this National Day, let’s make time to celebrate the resilience of women living with HIV, by hosting an event and raise the awareness and profile of woman living with HIV in Australia.

For media comments

Contact Katherine Leane, Chair of Femfatales, 0410 707 923
Contact Diane Lloyd, Femfatales member in Western Australia, 0405 415 928

For more information

See also events in the community release of this statement ‘Taking control of our health’ marks the theme of 2021 National Day of Women Living with HIV’ published on 19 February 2021

Community resource published to support women living with HIV in Australia on breastfeeding options is released in conjunction with new clinical guidance

Video:  Dr Fiona Bisshop speaks from a NAPWHA and Positive Women Victoria-hosted community online forum in May 2021, where women living with HIV were invited to come and learn about the latest advice and guidance on breastfeeding from the community resource Breastfeeding for women living with HIV in Australia.

Sector Release

The National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) — in shared collaboration with Positive Women Victoria, is pleased to publish a new community resource entitled Breastfeeding for women living with HIV in Australia.

“The information in this community resource is provided for women who are living with HIV — who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant,” says Heather Ellis, Communications Officer for Positive Women Victoria, who is also one of the co-editors of the community resource.

To the reader she states, “You may be thinking about breastfeeding your baby, and whether it is safe or advisable. This community resource aims to assist with understanding the issues around breastfeeding or formula feeding.”

Heather Ellis, who will represent as part of a panel at the ASHM 2021 Virtual Conference on 8 September 2021 continues, “We hope after reading this information, women will feel encouraged by the news that although medical and health experts agree that formula feeding is still the safest option, breastfeeding is increasingly being recognised as an option that may be open to some women living with HIV.”

This community resource will also be released alongside an exciting issue of new guidance for healthcare providers with regard to the infant feeding options available to people living with HIV in Australia. Published by the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) — the peak national organisation representing the clinical HIV workforce, the clinical guidance document The Optimal Scenario and Context of Care, will feature some highlighted sections from the community resource. [Note: This hyperlink will go live on 8 September 2021].

Of this clinical guidance to be launched at the ASHM 2021 Virtual Conference, Chair of Femfatales Kath Leane, HIV positive woman and mother of 34 years, offers her endorsement. “This guide offers balanced information that will not only empower and support women to safely consider their options but helps remove that stigma and guilt.”

In 2017, Femfatales (NAPWHA National Network of Women Living with HIV) tendered a submission to the ASHM of a Review of ASHM Antiretroviral Guidelines – US DHHS Guidelines with Australian Commentary: HIV-Infected Women with regards to postpartum management and infant feeding. The review identified important gaps that existed in the evidence-base and information about the risks and benefits.

Breastfeeding for women living with HIV In Australia was an initiative which then continued to build upon and respond to this evidence-base, developed and produced under the NAPWHA HIV Health Literacy Framework project.

“This NAPWHA framework adopts an approach where community-led participatory action research underpins all of the health literacy initiatives produced,” explains Sarah Feagan, one of Community Advocates of the NAPWHA project.

“The meaningful involvement of women living with HIV/AIDS (MIWA) is a key feature of women-centred HIV care. It was imperative that the development of this community resource was led by HIV community advocates, and that it was then further informed by networks of HIV peers through a consultative process. This ensures that the development of any health promotion is culturally appropriate and tailored for women.”

The NAPWHA Health Literacy Framework project (2019-2021) was made possible through the funding support of ViiV Healthcare Australia.

NAPWHA and Positive Women Victoria encourage community members to use information contained in the community resource Breastfeeding for women living with HIV In Australia to start a discussion with your doctor or health care team.

For more information please contact:

Heather Ellis (Communication Officer, Positive Women Victoria)
Email:   comms@positivewomen.org.au or phone:   0425 720 193

Saysana Sirimanotham
(Communication and Community Engagement Officer, NAPWHA)
Email:  saysana@napwha.org.au or phone:  0424 898 698

Video:  This recording is of the session at the joint virtual Australasian Sexual Health and HIV&AIDS Conference on 8 September 2021 which included a panel of international and domestic experts to present upon the challenges and opportunities that exist in the area of infant feeding options for people living with HIV specifically in resource-rich countries that often have conflicting advice to what is provided to people living with HIV in resource-poor settings.

Hosted by:  Brent Allan (ICASO) and Kirsty Machon (Positive Women Victoria)
Speakers:  Dr Lucy Stackpool-Moore (IAS), Jessica Whitbread, (HIV Rights Activist), Dr Michelle Gilles (Monash HIV, Monash Infectious Diseases), Heather Ellis (Positive Women Victoria)

Tweet:  In 2017, Femfatales (NAPWHA National Network of Women Living with HIV) tendered a submission to the ASHM of a Review of ASHM Antiretroviral Guidelines – US DHHS Guidelines with Australian Commentary: HIV-Infected Women with regards to postpartum management and infant feeding. The review identified important gaps that existed in the evidence-base and information about the risks and benefits. In 2018, Femfatales assisted launching the released the ICASO ‘Understanding U=U for Women Living With HIV’.

The National Network of Women Living with HIV

The Operational Planning Day for the National Network of Women Living with HIV is scheduled for Friday 15 October 2021 via Zoom.

NSW, ACT, Victoria + Tasmania:  10AM–4PM
South Australia:  9:30AM–3:30PM
Queensland:  9AM–3PM
Northern Territory:  8:30AM–2:30PM
Western Australia:  8AM–2PM
You can find additional time zones here

NAPWHA are very much looking forward to this coming together and planning the next steps of ensuring equity, quality of life and community support for all women living with HIV.

This virtual event is open to all women living with HIV. 

RSVP is ESSENTIAL by Thursday 7 October to Eloise Monteiro
at 
eloise@napwha.org.au to confirm your attendance.

Program of the day’s event

10:00
AM 

The Positively Women Project: An interactive and practical presentation 

11:00
AM 

Acknowledgement of Country  

 Welcome from NAPWHA Introductions 

Summary report backs
from a range of organisations on current initiatives and issues affecting women living with HIV  

12:05
PM 

Tea break 

12:15
PM 

Community strength-mapping  

This strength mapping session will identify the skills, interests, and strengths of the network members, and explore how the diverse strengths of the group can work together to create meaningful action. 

1:15
PM 

Lunch break 

2:00
PM 

A facilitated discussion and development of the network structure and functions

As well as identifying opportunities to get involved 

3:00
PM 

Brainstorm of ideas and priorities for action in 2022
and beyond
  

4:00
PM 

Event close
The online space will remain open for those
who would like to socialise
 

 

Program highlight:  The Positively Women Project

The Positively Women Art Exhibition includes works of art created by women living with HIV throughout Australia and celebrates their lives, while bringing visibility to the stigma and discrimination they face in society.

This session will introduce the project, which is a community-based arts research study. The study is examining how meditative process art can influence health for women living with HIV and ally ship for those viewing the exhibition.

Please bring paper and a pencil to this session (or any other art materials you may have, for example coloured pencils, markers or pastels. We also encourage you to view the exhibition online ahead of this session.

Program highlight:  Women Living Well website re-design

The Living Well: Women with HIV website (by AFAO and NAPWHA) was launched on World AIDS Day 2015. An additional booklet was launched on 9 March 2016, as part of the inaugural National Day of Women Living with HIV in Australia, organised by Femfatales – a day of coordinated events connecting and supporting HIV-positive women across Australia.

Coming soon in late-2021:  This website will receive a refreshed website design with beautiful new illustrative artworks.