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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 & 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.

Femfatales 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

‘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 info@napwha.org.au

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 rebekah.lamb@ntahc.org.au

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

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?