The Women’s Network make a call to action for #EachforEqual increased awareness and equitable access to HIV testing

The Women’s Network make a call to action for #EachforEqual increased awareness and equitable access to HIV testing

Monday 9 March 2020 is the 5th National day of Women living with HIV (#NDWLHIV) in Australia — founded by the National Network of Women Living with HIV known as Femfatales. Our awareness raising network highlights issues relevant to women, and also celebrates the lives of all women living with HIV.

To help raise awareness of HIV, Femfatales invites all organisations and agencies concerned about women’s health to hold a morning or afternoon tea, or similar event, in support of women living with and affected by HIV.

In Australia, one in every ten people living with HIV is a woman. This National Day brings into focus approximately 3,000 women living with HIV.

On this day Femfatales makes a call to action for:

  • Equitable and timely access to HIV testing for all women, regardless of perceived risk
  • Ending the avoidable rates of late HIV diagnosis among women
  • Greater public awareness of HIV testing, treatments, and prevention

Katherine Leane, Femfatale’s Chair, explains further:

“There is a general misconception that sexually active women are not at risk for HIV. Consequently, many women believe they don’t need to be tested.”

“Our healthcare providers often share this mistaken belief. Even when a woman presents multiple times to their doctor with unexplained illnesses, fever or weight loss, the question ‘Could it be HIV?’ is never asked.”

“By the time a woman is diagnosed, she has usually lived with HIV for many years without treatment. This late diagnosis often means she has developed a compromised immune system and sometimes, progressed to an AIDS-defining illness.”

“Assumptions about who is ‘at-risk’ in public health narratives have restricted women’s access to HIV testing on an equal basis to men.”

This National Day of Women Living with HIV shares the theme adopted by International Women’s Day 2020 — “I am Generation Equal, Realising Women’s Rights” or #EachforEqual — which draws from the notion of collective individualism and shared responsibility, where everyone can play a collective role in accelerating gender equality.

In appreciation of this theme, Ms Leane reminds us:

“Collectively, we can make change happen by starting conversations about HIV with our doctors, nurses, dentists and other professionals in health care settings.”

The National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) is Australia’s peak non-government organisation representing community-based groups of people with HIV. They provide advocacy, policy, representation, health promotion and outreach at a national level.

NAPWHA Vice President, Ms Sarah Feagan, states:

“As a national women’s network, we know the importance of keeping women on the agenda. This 5th National Day gives us an opportunity to celebrate the strength and diversity of the HIV community of women, and to recognise the unique challenges they face. We hope that all women living with or affected by HIV feel strengthened by our visibility.”

“NAPWHA aligns itself with the MIWA (Meaningful Involvement of Women Living with HIV) principles and knows the value and importance of keeping women firmly on the agenda. On this National Day we hope that all women living with or affected by HIV feel strengthened by our visibility and strive for equality and pleasure in their lives.”

Femfatales declares that it is time for all women who are sexually active, to be offered comprehensive and culturally appropriate sexual health screening, including HIV testing.

Celebrate. Advocate. Inspire. Empower.

Media Contact

For media enquiries, or to arrange an interview with:

Katherine Leane — Femfatales Chair
Sarah Feagan — NAPWHA Vice-President; Femfatales Member

Contact Saysana Sirimanotham – NAPWHA Communications Officer on 0424 898 698 or saysana@napwha.org.au

About Femfatales

Femfatales (the National Network of Women living with HIV) is an advisory group, constituted to provide NAPWHA with an ongoing consultative forum for the discussion of issues for women living with HIV in Australia.

Download a printable version

Let Women Talk — Sarah Feagan & Moira Wilson

In this video episode of Let Women Talk, HIV community advocate Sarah Feagan speaks with Dr Moira Wilson — an infectious diseases consultant working at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth, and part of the West Australian HIV positive women’s pregnancy management team. Dr Wilson presented at the 2019 Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference held in Perth on 17-19 September about the updates in management for women who are pregnant living with HIV.

About the presentation

Dr Wilson presented the latest evidence around antiretroviral therapy (ART) use in pregnancy. At the at 10th IAS Conference on HIV Science held in Mexico City in July 2019, results of an expansion of the Tsepamo study in Botswana were presented. While the risk with Dolutegravir (DTG) and neural tube defects appears to be much lower than first thought, the signal still remains. Guidelines are not excluding Dolutegravir as an otherwise excellent choice for use in pregnancy, however, it should be avoided in the first 8 weeks, and hence, avoided in women of childbearing potential who are not using a reliable method of contraception.

Also in this video series is Sarah Feagan & Carole Khaw who speak about a case study with a pregnant woman on DTG.

Related links

Find out about Let Women Talk

Let Women Talk is a NAPWHA community-led health literacy initiative where HIV community advocates incorporate their rich perspectives and diverse lived HIV experiences back into strengthening community health responses — where women design and develop the health content and interventions that they want to see and hear. The initiative is one of many activities forming part of the HIV Health Literacy Framework Project, a NAPWHA project supported through the funding of ViiV Healthcare Australia.

Hear other video episodes

In this series, Sarah Feagan reports back from the 2019 Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference aiming to translate research back into community practice.

Who’s in this interview?

Dr Moira Wilson is an infectious diseases consultant working at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth. She has been managing patients with HIV/AIDS since 1986, both in Australia and internationally, and has a strong interest in the holistic management of women living with HIV. She is part of the West Australian HIV positive women’s pregnancy management team.

Sarah Feagan is a queer women who has been living with HIV since 2008. She is the previous chair of Positive Women Victoria and has recently joined the team at Living Positive Victoria as a Peer Navigator. She also the Vice President of NAPWHA. Sarah is a co-facilitator of Phoenix for Women and the Positive Leadership Development Institute (PLDi). Sarah has unique approach to her advocacy and is inspired by the lived experience of the body positive to inform her practice. Sarah’s advocacy spans the from the grass roots all the way up to high level governance. She has a global outlook with a local focus to bringing the community along with her.

Let Women Talk — Sarah Feagan & Liz Duck-Chong

In this video episode of Let Women Talk, HIV community advocate Sarah Feagan speaks with Liz Duck-Chong — writer, sexual health advocate, and podcast co-host of Let’s Do It, at the 2019 Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference held in Perth on 17-19 September. Liz tells Sarah about trans[TEST] — a new peer-led, sexual health service for anyone who is trans or gender diverse (TGD) in Sydney.

About trans[TEST]

trans[TEST] is a new peer-led, sexual health service for anyone who is trans or gender diverse (TGD) — a partnership between ACON and the Kirketon Road Centre (KRC). The trans[TEST] model combines trained TGD peers working with sexual health nurses and doctors to deliver HIV and STI testing and other sexual health services. The service operates on the first and third Friday of each month at Clinic 180 in Kings Cross, Sydney, with appointments from 11:30am to 5pm.

Find out about Let Women Talk

Let Women Talk is a NAPWHA community-led health literacy initiative where HIV community advocates incorporate their rich perspectives and diverse lived HIV experiences back into strengthening community health responses — where women design and develop the health content and interventions that they want to see and hear. The initiative is one of many activities forming part of the HIV Health Literacy Framework Project, a NAPWHA project supported through the funding of ViiV Healthcare Australia.

Hear other video episodes

In this series, Sarah Feagan reports back from the 2019 Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference aiming to translate research back into community practice.

Who’s in this interview?

Liz Duck-Chong is a writer, sexual health advocate, filmmaker and transgender bon vivant who writes about the reproductive health, rape politics, girldick, and far more besides. She can be found on Twitter at @lizduckchong, in your ears at @letsdoitpodcast lizduckchong.com

Sarah Feagan is a queer women who has been living with HIV since 2008. She is the previous chair of Positive Women Victoria and has recently joined the team at Living Positive Victoria as a Peer Navigator. She also the Vice President of NAPWHA. Sarah is a co-facilitator of Phoenix for Women and the Positive Leadership Development Institute (PLDi). Sarah has unique approach to her advocacy and is inspired by the lived experience of the body positive to inform her practice. Sarah’s advocacy spans the from the grass roots all the way up to high level governance. She has a global outlook with a local focus to bringing the community along with her.

Let Women Talk — Sarah Feagan & Shoshana Rosenberg

In this video episode of Let Women Talk, HIV community advocate Sarah Feagan speaks with Shoshana Rosenberg — a sexological researcher at currently working with the Kirby Institute (UNSW) and SiREN (Curtin), who presented the opening plenary at the 2019 Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference held in Perth on 17-19 September. Shoshana spoke about the first survey of trans and gender diverse sexual health in Australia and how the findings reveal major gaps in health system.

About the presentation

There is an urgent need to prioritise health resources and services to support the sexual health and wellbeing of transgender (‘trans’) and gender diverse people, according to a new report from the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney, launched at the Australasian Sexual Health Conference in Perth.

More than half of trans and gender diverse people who participated in the survey had ever experienced sexual violence or coercion, a rate that is four times higher than the general Australian population. Further, less than half of people who experienced sexual violence or coercion reported it to someone or otherwise sought help.

Shoshana Rosenberg is one of the study investigators: “While some of the survey results are deeply concerning, we also found that many trans and gender diverse people lead happy sexual and romantic lives. Trans and gender diverse people engage in a wide range of sexual practices, we get married and divorced, look for sex and love online and offline, and form partnerships with people of all genders. In this way, we are quite like the rest of Australia. Australia’s sexual health policies, guidelines and services require a lot of work to improve health in this domain. Sexual health is a key factor in our overall health and well being, which is why it is great that, for the first time, we have data to guide this important work.”

Related links

Find out about Let Women Talk

Let Women Talk is a NAPWHA community-led health literacy initiative where HIV community advocates incorporate their rich perspectives and diverse lived HIV experiences back into strengthening community health responses — where women design and develop the health content and interventions that they want to see and hear. The initiative is one of many activities forming part of the HIV Health Literacy Framework Project, a NAPWHA project supported through the funding of ViiV Healthcare Australia.

Hear other video episodes

In this series, Sarah Feagan reports back from the 2019 Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference aiming to translate research back into community practice.

Who’s in this interview?

Shoshana Rosenberg is a sexological researcher based between Whadjuk Noongar Boodjar (Perth) and Naarm/Birraranga (Melbourne). They are currently working with the Kirby Institute (UNSW) and SiREN (Curtin) on a variety of sexual health projects. Their research interests include gender and sexual diversity, queer theory, Jewish studies, and musicology — shoshanarosenberg.com

Sarah Feagan is a queer women who has been living with HIV since 2008. She is the previous chair of Positive Women Victoria and has recently joined the team at Living Positive Victoria as a Peer Navigator. She also the Vice President of NAPWHA. Sarah is a co-facilitator of Phoenix for Women and the Positive Leadership Development Institute (PLDi). Sarah has unique approach to her advocacy and is inspired by the lived experience of the body positive to inform her practice. Sarah’s advocacy spans the from the grass roots all the way up to high level governance. She has a global outlook with a local focus to bringing the community along with her.

Let Women Talk — Sarah Feagan & Melinda Hassall

In this video episode of Let Women Talk, HIV community advocate Sarah Feagan speaks with Melinda Hassall — Clinical Nurse Lead at ASHM (who are a provider of continuing professional development for health professional working in the field of HIV, hepatitis B and C, and sexual health). Melinda presented at the 2019 Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference held in Perth on 17-19 September, about the Removing Barriers website which offers targeted online training to healthcare professionals for addressing stigma and discrimination in healthcare settings against people affected by HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C.

Find out about Removing Barriers

Removing Barriers is a website inviting all health care professionals to change what we say, and change what we do — that is, to understand, recognise and remove barriers in their practice that affected people with HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C. When people experience stigma and discrimination, they are less likely to seek health care in the first place delaying diagnosis and treatment or don’t return to health care for follow up and monitoring. The website contains targeted online learning training for receptionists, practice managers, nurses and medical students. There are also two general modules: one about the importance of complete data and the other about the stigma and discrimination experienced in health care settings by people who inject drugs. These are open to any visitor to the website. “No one likes to think their work practices may be stigmatising or discriminatory. However, we all come to our professions with our own set of values, attitudes and perceptions, and there are times we could be challenged by people that we care for,” said Dr Elizabeth Crock, ASHM Board Member and Nurse Practitioner. “Removing Barriers has been designed to make all participants—regardless of the health-setting they practice in—reflect on our own personal and workplace practices by examining and reflecting on where stigma comes from, and the role we can play in eliminating it.” Related links

Find out about Let Women Talk

Let Women Talk is a NAPWHA community-led health literacy initiative where HIV community advocates incorporate their rich perspectives and diverse lived HIV experiences back into strengthening community health responses — where women design and develop the health content and interventions that they want to see and hear. The initiative is one of many activities forming part of the HIV Health Literacy Framework Project, a NAPWHA project supported through the funding of ViiV Healthcare Australia.

Above: Video content in the Removing Barriers online training contains first-hand accounts of the stigma and discrimination experienced by people with blood-borne viruses.

Hear other video episodes

In this series, Sarah Feagan reports back from the 2019 Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference aiming to translate research back into community practice.

Who’s in this interview?

Melinda Hassall is the Clinical Nurse Lead at ASHM — develops and delivers education, training, resources and conferences to support the HIV, viral hepatitis and sexual health workforce, from introductory to advanced levels. Sarah Feagan is a queer women who has been living with HIV since 2008. She is the previous chair of Positive Women Victoria and has recently joined the team at Living Positive Victoria as a Peer Navigator. She also the Vice President of NAPWHA. Sarah is a co-facilitator of Phoenix for Women and the Positive Leadership Development Institute (PLDi). Sarah has unique approach to her advocacy and is inspired by the lived experience of the body positive to inform her practice. Sarah’s advocacy spans the from the grass roots all the way up to high level governance. She has a global outlook with a local focus to bringing the community along with her.