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Taking the temperature of the Association — Kirsty Machon

Kirsty Machon, Executive Director of Positive Women Victoria shares stories about life and times, resilience and community during COVID-19 with Dr John Rule (NAPWHA Senior Research Manager) during the Melbourne lockdown. Positive Women Victoria (PWV) for over 30 years, has provided peer support, information and advocacy for women in Victoria living with HIV.

The National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) is Australia’s peak non-government organisation representing community-based groups of people living with HIV across Australia. In this video series, we share the experiences and responses of communities managing and adapting to the unfolding 2020 pandemic.

This interview was recorded on 18 August 2020

Related links

In September 2020, Positive Women Victoria announced the launch of their brand new podcast, Our Stories: Ending HIV Stigma, a podcast about women, by women living with HIV in Australia, that challenges the myths and stereotypes that feed HIV stigma.

‘Their stories are real, unfiltered and always inspiring,’ says journalist and author, Heather Ellis, who is openly living with HIV and hosts each episode.

The series is a one-on-one conversation with women living with HIV, where amazing women share stories about their life goals, navigating sex and relationships, pregnancy and motherhood. They discuss what it means to be confident in this new era of U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable), and what this means for them.

Hear other video episodes

In this series, Dr John Rule reports back from the NAPWHA members to hear about community stories and community-led responses adapting to life during COVID-19.

Taking the Temperature — Episode 01 — Sam and Wilo
Taking the Temperature — Episode 02 — Richard Keane
Taking the Temperature — Episode 04 — Anth McCarthy
Taking the Temperature — Episode 05 — Hayden Patterson
Taking the Temperature — Episode 06 — Charlie Tredway

Breastfeeding for Women Living with HIV online community forum

In this NAPWHA and Positive Women Victoria-hosted event, women living with HIV are invited to come and learn about the latest advice and guidance on breastfeeding.

This national online community forum will be moderated by Heather Ellis, co-author of Breastfeeding for women living with HIV in Australia resource (soon to be published in May 2021) which was developed in collaboration with NAPWHA and Positive Women Victoria. This community resource can also to be used in conjunction with clinical Guidance for the care of women living with HIV in Australia who are considering infant feeding options produced by ASHM (Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine) also soon to be published in 2021.

Speakers available to answer your questions about breastfeeding as a woman living with HIV include:

  • Melania Mugamu – HIV peer support worker in Australia. Melania is living with HIV and a qualified social worker with more than 10 years experience working within the HIV community in Zimbabwe where many of her clients were women living with HIV who breastfed their infants.
  • Dr Fiona Bisshop – HIV specialist doctor from Brisbane with a strong focus on gender and HIV medicine. Fiona is a member of the ASHM ARV guidelines sub-committee and is also very knowledgeable about pregnancy and breastfeeding for women living with HIV.
  • Kate Bath – ASHM HIV/STI program manager and sub-committee secretariat for the ASHM Guidance for the care of women living with HIV in Australia who are considering infant feeding options.

Registration to attend this online event is essential.

This event is an initiative that is part of the NAPWHA HIV Health Literacy Framework project. It was made possible through the kind support of ViiV healthcare Australia.

  • 0:00 Heather Ellis introduction and promo for NAPWHA/Positive Women community resource
  • 02:39 Introducing community panellist, Melania Mugamu
  • 04:41 Introducing Kate Bath; ASHM clinical guidance for healthcare providers
  • 07:42 Introducing Dr Fiona Bisshop; and what is person-centred healthcare
  • 09:36 Question: “In some cultures there is an expectation to breastfeed… but if I do not breastfeed I am effect effectively disclosing my HIV.” What could women say if someone asks, why you are bottle feeding versus breast feeding?
  • 13:44 “If I decide to breastfeed, I’m worried I will become anxious by my decision, even though the risk is very small”. What is the information from the PROMISE Study?
  • 16:14 Who is part of a HIV healthcare team? What are their roles?
  • 18:43 Lactation consultants and midwives
  • 23:26 Mastitis
  • 27:07 Stopping breastfeeding and switching to formula feeding
  • 29:40 Blood tests after birth to check whether or not the baby has contracted HIV
  • 32:47 Is breastfeeding beneficial to the immune system of mothers living with HIV?
  • 33:24 Could my baby be taken from me by child protective services if I breastfeed?
  • 36:33 Advice for a woman if her GP speaks of child protective services may get involved
  • 38:47 Can a parent decide not to treat the infant with HIV medication? (HIV PEP – post-exposure prophylaxis)
  • 40:41 Is there any sort of long-term effects on the infant and child as they grow up after the exposure to the ARV medications found in breast milk?