Join us for CHINWAG: Positive Connection

***  CHINWAG has now concluded  ***

This is a safe, inclusive and dynamic virtual space where every Friday, for one hour, the ever fabulous Vanessa Wagner will be hosting a Zoom video conference event called CHINWAG: Positive Connection with a team of HIV Peer supporters.

  • 5:00-6:00 pm (Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney)
  • 4:30-5:30 pm (Adelaide, Alice Springs, Darwin)
  • 3:00-4:00 pm (Perth)

CHINWAG: Positive Connection aims to create a fun space for people living with HIV to have a yarn, unwind and come together.


Over 12 weeks the series of events has been wildly popular exceeding all our hopes for the project and we are immensely grateful to you for spending your Friday evenings with us and creating such a warm, open and supportive space.

Chinwag would not have been possible without our incomparable host, along with an amazing stable of special guests, each of whom brought their expertise, passion, and generosity to the event, giving their time to help our community through COVID-19:

  • Friday 22 May: Inaugural meeting with Vanessa Wagner
  • Friday 29 May: Christopher Brett-Renes (Psychosexual therapist, health educator and sexual health/HIV researcher)
  • Friday 5 June: Joel Murray (ACON Senior Manager of the community health programs team, which includes the alcohol and other drugs program and needle syringe program)
  • Friday 12 June: Brent Clifton (Project Coordinator of RISE study at Kirby Institute UNSW)
  • Friday 19 June: Associate Professor Edwina Wright (Infectious diseases physician & clinical researcher at The Alfred and Burnet Institute)
  • Friday 26 June: Nic Holas (HIV activist; campaigns director for Australia; co-founder of The Institute of Many)
  • Friday 3 July: Vikas Parwani (Solicitor of The HIV/AIDS Legal Centre – HALC)
  • Friday 10 July: Michelle Tobin (Community Advocate for the well-being and human rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW)
  • Friday 17 July: Greg Owen (London-based HIV advocate and co-founder of I Want Prep Now in the UK; PrEP Lead for Terrence Higgins Trust)
  • Friday 24 July: Jules Kim (CEO of Scarlet Alliance)
  • In July-August, Chinwag will break for 4 weeks
  • Friday 28 August: Professor Sharon Lewin (Inaugural Director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity)
  • Friday 11 September: Bruce Richman (Founding Executive Director of Prevention Access Campaign)

For any questions regarding this event, contact Charlie Tredway (Project Officer; Community Engagement) via email on


We had incredible team of HIV peer supporters from across Australia join us each week to provide valuable lived experience, one-on-one support and linkage to care:

  • Sarah from Living Positive Victoria
  • Glenn from Queensland Positive People
  • Ruan from Bobby Goldsmith Foundation
  • Neil from Positive Life NSW

We also would like to thank ViiV Healthcare for their support to help bring this initiative to life. It has been an honour getting to spend this time with every single person who attended.

Professor Sharon Lewin and Bruce Richman join Chinwag: Positive Connection

This is an initiative which is responding to a NAPWHA survey in April 2020 where we looked at the impact of COVID-19 on people living with HIV. From the 150 participants, the key things that stood out were the challenges of isolation and the need for meaningful interaction. 65% of participants selected Social Connection and 41% of participants chose Mental Health support as two of their most pressing needs right now.

This activity was made possible with the support of ViiV Healthcare Australia

Webinar on Patient Based Evidence: Using qualitative research for PBAC/MSAC

How can ALL people (consumers) have a voice in PBAC and MSAC processes?

In this webinar, hear from Dr John Rule (NAPWHA Senior Research Manager) on the importance of Patient-based Evidence: Using qualitative research.

“[People living with HIV have historically] been pairing people up to help another person develop their health literacy. We are playing with a similar concept in terms of our engagement in research. We [communities of consumers] need to develop a research literacy ourselves, and we do have to learn about how the science operates, and the role of qualitative research in sometimes countering what science might assume, but also adding to science.”

In a 3-part webinar series, the Patient Voice Initiative invited various patient groups and communities wanting to know about qualitative research for reimbursement decisions in Australia. This included NAPWHA, who participates sporadically in consumer hearings to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) to better inform them of key issues and evidence from people living with HIV.

Watch the video

The webinar (above) from Friday 21 August 2020 focused on answering questions about qualitative research for submissions to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) and Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC).

In this video, hear from:

  • Dr Stephen Holden (Adjunct Professor, Macquarie Graduate School of Management) speaking on What is qualitative research and what can it do?
  • Dr John Rule (NAPWHA Senior Research Manager) speaking on Patient-based Evidence: Using qualitative research [download the presentation slides PDF]

Find out more about having a voice in the PBS


Patients want to be involved. Patients need to be involved, and patients are more informed now than they have ever been.

Never has there been a more important time than now to have a more inclusive and consultative environment to ensure that the people of Australia are cared for, listened to and part of the conversation.

– Kathy Gardiner (metastatic melanoma patient)

What is the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC)

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, known as the PBS, is the Australian Government’s program to make medicines affordable. If a medicine is listed on the PBS, it will be sold at a really reduced price or available free under certain conditions.

Because the amount of taxpayer funding available for medicines is limited, to be listed on the PBS, a medicine must be assessed as being good value for money. This assessment, known as a health technology assessment, is done by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) who are an advisory committee of the Australian Government that primarily makes recommendations to the health minister.

What does the health technology assessment (HBA) do?

To assess whether a medicine is safe, clinically effective, and cost-effective compared to an existing treatment, PBAC uses a process called health technology assessment. This is a type of policy research used in more than 30 countries to assess the value of a medicine using recognised scientific processes and robust evidence. PBAC assessments take 17 weeks.

What you pay for PBS medicines

To help meet the cost of the scheme, you pay a proportion (a ‘co-payment’) for your PBS medicines and the Government pays the rest of the cost. The Australian Government subsidises medicines that are necessary to maintain the health of the community in a way that is cost effective. Community need and/or benefit are also considered.

How does PBAC work

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee is made up of doctors, health professionals, health economists and two consumer representatives; Jo Watson and Bel Harper. Jo is also Deputy Chair, with Professor Andrew Wilson as the Chair.

The quick guide to how medicines are listed on the PBS

What is the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC)

The Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) is an independent committee established by the Australian Government Minister for Health who appraises new medical services proposed for public funding.

It provides advice to Government on whether a new medical service should be publicly funded (and if so, its circumstances) on an assessment of its comparative safety, clinical effectiveness,cost-effectiveness, and total cost, using the best available evidence. Amendments and reviews of existing services funded on the Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) or other programmes (for example, blood products or screening programmes) are also considered by MSAC.

‘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

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

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