Australia sets standards for HIV peer support in clinical practice

Australia sets standards for HIV peer support in clinical practice

NAPWHA Australian Peer Support StandardsAustralian HIV Peer Support Standards have been published by the National Association of People With HIV Australia (NAPWHA) in 2020, aimed at providing an excellent framework to guide people who are living with HIV, either providing or accessing peer support. They also can be used by healthcare providers, community health workers in who provide client services within HIV organisations, or policy makers who are setting  performance standards for the provision of peer support.

“Call it peer support, call it peer navigation, call it what you will – these Standards formalise the peer workforce, the strength of community, positive people supporting positive people, lived experience, strength, and shared journeys,” said NAPWHA President, Scott Harlum.

“They represent the evolution and practical implementation of once revolutionary ideas”.

The four Standards outlined in the document seek to ensure that peer support is provided by people living with HIV and that peer supporters will receive excellent training, on-going support and practice monitoring. Moreover, that they will be able to provide peer support that is tailored to the needs of specific populations, including to Indigenous Australians, adolescents and culturally and linguistically diverse populations.

Lisa Bastian (Manager, Sexual Health and Blood-Borne Virus Program, at the Government of Western Australia Department of Health) also endorsed the Standards.

“Each standard describes the expected outcomes for people living with HIV who are accessing peer support programs. Importantly, the standards also describe the requisite skills and competencies required of a peer supporter. It also explicitly recognises the need to invest in training and supervision for peer supporters”.

NAPWHA HIV Peer Navigator training in development

Throughout 2020-2021, NAPWHA continue to develop HIV Peer Navigator training, in the format of online learning modules. The aim will be to accredit the course through the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) VET qualifications, to enable that may be delivered via a registered training organisation (RTO).

HIV Peer Support Standards to be launched at the Virtual 2020 HIV Conference

Watch a presentation by the Standards’ co-author, Adrian Ogier (NAPWHA Deputy Director) who will promote the NAPWHA HIV Peer Support Standards next week in a presentation at the Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference held virtually from 16 – 20 November 2020.

He references current exemplars of peer-delivered service delivery that support people living with HIV, including that of Positive Life NSW’s HIV Work Ready program; Living Positive Victoria’s Peer Navigation Program; Positive Women Victoria’s and Queensland Positive People’s (QPP) peer supporters (comprising Peer Navigators, Peer Case Managers, and Peer Facilitators).

The Standards are dedicated to those brave HIV peer supporters who led the way.

NAPWHA launches seminal reports providing framework for stigma, resilience and living longer with HIV in Australia

NNAPWHA staff and authors launch resources at Special General Meeting on 3 May 2019 (Photo by Roy Wilkins)

NAPWHA have launched two seminal reports – the Stigma and Resilience Framework and HIV and Ageing in Australia – The New Frontier report at its annually-held special general meeting to members organisations representing community-based HIV organisations from all Australian States and Territories; and associate members representing New Zealand, the National Network of Women Living with HIV (Femfatales), and Positive Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Network (PATSIN).

Stigma and Resilience Framework

“NAPWHA is thrilled to have had the opportunity to lead the creation and development of this first ever national strategic framework to address HIV stigma and to build the resilience capacity of people living with HIV – and as such, it is a tremendously important document,” said Cipri Martinez, NAPWHA President in his foreword message of the NAPWHA Stigma and Resilience Framework.

The Framework is the outcome of a substantive consultation process across the community living with and affected by HIV. Recommendations for actions were drawn from several in-depth interviews with people who represent a broad diversity of backgrounds and HIV lived experiences – including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people who inject drugs, transgender and gender diverse people, and people from mobile and/or migrant populations.

“We hope that the Framework will provide valuable guidance with a whole-of-sector approach to anyone involved at all levels of the HIV response,” said co-authors, Kirsten Machon and Brent Allen. “Ensuring and enabling people to not only live with HIV, keep well through accessing testing, treatment and care; but also to foster higher levels of psychosocial wellbeing, so that they live well and flourish – is the key end goal.”

The Framework provides encouragement for government decision makers and policy developers to pursue consistent and enabling policy and legislative environments to achieve best practice and stronger health outcomes, by utilising the interlinked twin goals of building personal resilience and eliminating stigma and discrimination.

HIV and Ageing in Australia – The New Frontier

HIV and Ageing in Australia – The New Frontier is a seminal report by NAPWHA – providing a solid evidence base of the most current and comprehensive collation and review of international and Australian literature on HIV and ageing to-date,” says Dr John Rule, NAPWHA Senior Research Manager.

The life expectancy of Australians living with HIV has been steadily increasing and is approaching that of the general population. Many people living with HIV are already dealing with the changes and challenges of growing older, and many more will be doing so in coming decades.

“For people with HIV, and for community organisations that serve and represent them, living simultaneously with HIV and with the consequences of ageing is a new frontier,” said author, Ronald Woods.

Initiatives to promote successful ageing for people with HIV, including those that support treatment adherence, preserve health and delay disease progression, rely on having in place a strong service delivery framework.

For NAPWHA, this Report informs the next phases of our nationally focused work. Initiatives identified in the document include the development of peer training materials that focus on the intersection of living with HIV and living longer with HIV; and also, the promotion of models of geriatric care in Australia.

NAPWHA acknowledges the partial funding support from Queensland Positive People which led to the production of HIV and Ageing in Australia – The New Frontier. Direct feedback on earlier document drafts of the Report were provided by the Health Protection Policy Branch (Office of Health Protection), the Australian government Department of Health and Department of Social Services.