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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’.

Highlights from the Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference 2022

Mon 29 August — Thu 1 September 2022

The complete program for the joint virtual Australasian Sexual Health and HIV&AIDS Conference #HIVAIDS2022 & #SH2022, held at the Sunshine Coast Convention Centre, Queensland, has a live and on-demand full program. NAPWHA has compiled a selective list of program highlights that may be of interest for our communities below.

Community welcome: Robert Mitchell, Past-NAPWHA President

NAPWHA Rapportage by Daniel Reeders

Couldn’t make the conference? NAPWHA Learning Officer, Daniel Reeders, provided an excellent coverage and rapportage of the 4-day conference program via the NAPWHA Twitter feed.

Satellite Session: Going beyond viral suppression

Poster #312 Hidden in Plain Sight? Creating a Culturally-Appropriate Peer Navigation Model to Facilitate Engagement with PLHIV from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds

Poster #312: Hidden in Plain Sight? Creating a Culturally-Appropriate Peer Navigation Model to Facilitate Engagement with People Living with HIV from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds

Background:  Positive Life NSW (PLNSW) adapted a peer navigation model to build capacity of CALD PLHIV utilising Peer Navigators to role-model and share their lived experiences, improving the health, quality of life outcomes and increasing health literacy and capacity of CALD PLHIV to self-advocate. Engaging Peer Navigators from the CALD community has provided a deeper understanding of culture and remains agile yet sensitive to the developing needs of this priority population. CALD Community Peer Navigators use a range of different tools and modes of communication to address social isolation, stigma / discrimination, system navigation, peer support and program follow-up..

This poster was presented at the Joint HIV&AIDS & Sexual Health Conference 2022.  See also the abstract submitted

Poster #56: Lessons From The Archive: Queer Indonesia Archive

Poster #56: Lessons From The Archive: Queer Indonesia Archive

Background:  In Indonesia the lived experiences and narratives of queer people are being challenged, erased, and delegitimized in the national collective memory. For the lasttwo years the Queer Indonesia Archive (QIA) – a volunteer run, Indonesia based digital archiving project – has been building a digital collection reflecting the histories of queer communities. QIA utilises a process of community consultation, material collection and exhibition as it’s community archive process. Through this method the archive has built an accessible collection of digital objects to promote cross generational engagement, build community capacity and ensure a community collective memory of the HIV response.

This poster was presented at the Joint HIV&AIDS & Sexual Health Conference 2022.  See also the abstract submitted

Poster #126: GIPA Audit – Assessing the National Association of People Living with HIV Australia’s engagement with people living with HIV

Poster #126:  GIPA Audit – Assessing the National Association of People Living with HIV Australia’s engagement with people living with HIV

Background:  The National Association of People Living with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) relies upon its membership and the body positive to understand the priorities for people living with HIV (PLHIV) across Australia. As the national peak organisation representing PLHIV, they commissioned an independent assessment of their engagement with positive people, including 17 priority populations.

This poster was presented at the Joint HIV&AIDS & Sexual Health Conference 2022.  See also the abstract submitted

Poster #269:  Re-imagining the role of the NAPWHA Treatment Outreach Network

Poster #269: Re-imagining the role of the NAPWHA Treatment Outreach Network

Background:  NAPWHA’s Treatment Officer Network (TON) has operated for over twenty years. During that time the treatments landscape has changed fundamentally, as treatments have become simpler and easier to take, resulting in less demand from clients for treatment advice and support.

This poster was presented at the Joint HIV&AIDS & Sexual Health Conference 2022.  See also the abstract submitted

Poster #293:  Living with HIV and injecting drugs – A health literacy community consultation

Poster #293:  Living with HIV and injecting drugs – A health literacy community consultation

Background: A pioneering community network has been developed for Asian people living with HIV under the NAPWHA Health Literacy Framework project. The Positive Asian Network Australia (PANA) was established as a peer-led community mobilisation initiative, formed by HIV peers and the project Pilot Lead, Brent Clifton.

This poster was presented at the Joint HIV&AIDS & Sexual Health Conference 2022.

Poster #296:  Beyond the 4th 90 – The Australian Community Accord on Quality of Life for people with HIV

Poster #296:  Beyond the 4th 90 The Australian Community Accord on Quality of Life for people with HIV

Background: With funding from ViiV Healthcare, NAPWHA delivered an interactive webinar series that invited participants (n=389) to share insights and experiences. Findings informed an Australian Community Accord on Quality of Life for People Living with HIV:  A person-centred framework for eliciting and addressing the drivers of self-perceived quality of life. Development of the Accord and the availability of the PozQOL measure put Australiain position to lead in the global push to recognise good quality of life as a vital goal for national and global strategies that aim to reduce both the incidence and impact of HIV.

This poster was presented at the Joint HIV&AIDS & Sexual Health Conference 2022.

Poster #301:  Mobilising community among heterosexual men living with HIV in Australia

Poster #301:  Mobilising community among heterosexual men living with HIV in Australia

Background: HIV notifications among heterosexual men have been increasing over the past decade, particularly among Australian-born males (Kirby, 2018). The NAPWHA Health Literacy Framework project established HetMAN a network of heterosexual men to articulate their health literacy needs across the HIV care continuum..

This poster was presented at the Joint HIV&AIDS & Sexual Health Conference 2022.

Poster #302:  Developing the Health Literacy Framework – The central role of Community Advocates

Poster #302:  Developing the Health Literacy Framework – The central role of Community Advocates

Background: The Health Literacy Framework project is a three-year initiative (2019-21) which aimed to improve HIV-related health literacy at the individual, community, organisational, sectoral, health system, and societal levels. It focused on engaging diverse cohorts of PLHIV who have not benefited equally from recent successes across the HIV care continuum. These included positive women, heterosexual men, people from Asian and Latin American backgrounds, and people who inject drugs.

This poster was presented at the Joint HIV&AIDS & Sexual Health Conference 2022.

Poster #303:  A systems approach to understanding the needs of Asian-born men living with HIV in Australia

Poster #303:  A systems approach to understanding the needs of Asian-born men living with HIV in Australia

Background: A pioneering community network has been developed for Asian people living with HIV under the NAPWHA Health Literacy Framework project. The Positive Asian Network Australia (PANA) was established as a peer-led community mobilisation initiative, formed by HIV peers and the project’s Community Advocate, Jimmy Yu-Hsiang Chen.

This poster was presented at the Joint HIV&AIDS & Sexual Health Conference 2022.