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Community resource published to support women living with HIV in Australia on breastfeeding options is released in conjunction with new clinical guidance

Video:  Dr Fiona Bisshop speaks from a NAPWHA and Positive Women Victoria-hosted community online forum in May 2021, where women living with HIV were invited to come and learn about the latest advice and guidance on breastfeeding from the community resource Breastfeeding for women living with HIV in Australia.

Sector Release

The National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) — in shared collaboration with Positive Women Victoria, is pleased to publish a new community resource entitled Breastfeeding for women living with HIV in Australia.

“The information in this community resource is provided for women who are living with HIV — who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant,” says Heather Ellis, Communications Officer for Positive Women Victoria, who is also one of the co-editors of the community resource.

To the reader she states, “You may be thinking about breastfeeding your baby, and whether it is safe or advisable. This community resource aims to assist with understanding the issues around breastfeeding or formula feeding.”

Heather Ellis, who will represent as part of a panel at the ASHM 2021 Virtual Conference on 8 September 2021 continues, “We hope after reading this information, women will feel encouraged by the news that although medical and health experts agree that formula feeding is still the safest option, breastfeeding is increasingly being recognised as an option that may be open to some women living with HIV.”

This community resource will also be released alongside an exciting issue of new guidance for healthcare providers with regard to the infant feeding options available to people living with HIV in Australia. Published by the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) — the peak national organisation representing the clinical HIV workforce, the clinical guidance document The Optimal Scenario and Context of Care, will feature some highlighted sections from the community resource. [Note: This hyperlink will go live on 8 September 2021].

Of this clinical guidance to be launched at the ASHM 2021 Virtual Conference, Chair of Femfatales Kath Leane, HIV positive woman and mother of 34 years, offers her endorsement. “This guide offers balanced information that will not only empower and support women to safely consider their options but helps remove that stigma and guilt.”

In 2017, Femfatales (NAPWHA National Network of Women Living with HIV) tendered a submission to the ASHM of a Review of ASHM Antiretroviral Guidelines – US DHHS Guidelines with Australian Commentary: HIV-Infected Women with regards to postpartum management and infant feeding. The review identified important gaps that existed in the evidence-base and information about the risks and benefits.

Breastfeeding for women living with HIV In Australia was an initiative which then continued to build upon and respond to this evidence-base, developed and produced under the NAPWHA HIV Health Literacy Framework project.

“This NAPWHA framework adopts an approach where community-led participatory action research underpins all of the health literacy initiatives produced,” explains Sarah Feagan, one of Community Advocates of the NAPWHA project.

“The meaningful involvement of women living with HIV/AIDS (MIWA) is a key feature of women-centred HIV care. It was imperative that the development of this community resource was led by HIV community advocates, and that it was then further informed by networks of HIV peers through a consultative process. This ensures that the development of any health promotion is culturally appropriate and tailored for women.”

The NAPWHA Health Literacy Framework project (2019-2021) was made possible through the funding support of ViiV Healthcare Australia.

NAPWHA and Positive Women Victoria encourage community members to use information contained in the community resource Breastfeeding for women living with HIV In Australia to start a discussion with your doctor or health care team.

For more information please contact:

Heather Ellis (Communication Officer, Positive Women Victoria)
Email:   comms@positivewomen.org.au or phone:   0425 720 193

Saysana Sirimanotham
(Communication and Community Engagement Officer, NAPWHA)
Email:  saysana@napwha.org.au or phone:  0424 898 698

Video:  This recording is of the session at the joint virtual Australasian Sexual Health and HIV&AIDS Conference on 8 September 2021 which included a panel of international and domestic experts to present upon the challenges and opportunities that exist in the area of infant feeding options for people living with HIV specifically in resource-rich countries that often have conflicting advice to what is provided to people living with HIV in resource-poor settings.

Hosted by:  Brent Allan (ICASO) and Kirsty Machon (Positive Women Victoria)
Speakers:  Dr Lucy Stackpool-Moore (IAS), Jessica Whitbread, (HIV Rights Activist), Dr Michelle Gilles (Monash HIV, Monash Infectious Diseases), Heather Ellis (Positive Women Victoria)

Tweet:  In 2017, Femfatales (NAPWHA National Network of Women Living with HIV) tendered a submission to the ASHM of a Review of ASHM Antiretroviral Guidelines – US DHHS Guidelines with Australian Commentary: HIV-Infected Women with regards to postpartum management and infant feeding. The review identified important gaps that existed in the evidence-base and information about the risks and benefits. In 2018, Femfatales assisted launching the released the ICASO ‘Understanding U=U for Women Living With HIV’.

The National Network of Women Living with HIV

The Operational Planning Day for the National Network of Women Living with HIV is scheduled for Friday 15 October 2021 via Zoom.

NSW, ACT, Victoria + Tasmania:  10AM–4PM
South Australia:  9:30AM–3:30PM
Queensland:  9AM–3PM
Northern Territory:  8:30AM–2:30PM
Western Australia:  8AM–2PM
You can find additional time zones here

NAPWHA are very much looking forward to this coming together and planning the next steps of ensuring equity, quality of life and community support for all women living with HIV.

This virtual event is open to all women living with HIV. 

RSVP is ESSENTIAL by Thursday 7 October to Eloise Monteiro
at 
eloise@napwha.org.au to confirm your attendance.

Program of the day’s event

10:00
AM 

The Positively Women Project: An interactive and practical presentation 

11:00
AM 

Acknowledgement of Country  

 Welcome from NAPWHA Introductions 

Summary report backs
from a range of organisations on current initiatives and issues affecting women living with HIV  

12:05
PM 

Tea break 

12:15
PM 

Community strength-mapping  

This strength mapping session will identify the skills, interests, and strengths of the network members, and explore how the diverse strengths of the group can work together to create meaningful action. 

1:15
PM 

Lunch break 

2:00
PM 

A facilitated discussion and development of the network structure and functions

As well as identifying opportunities to get involved 

3:00
PM 

Brainstorm of ideas and priorities for action in 2022
and beyond
  

4:00
PM 

Event close
The online space will remain open for those
who would like to socialise
 

 

Program highlight:  The Positively Women Project

The Positively Women Art Exhibition includes works of art created by women living with HIV throughout Australia and celebrates their lives, while bringing visibility to the stigma and discrimination they face in society.

This session will introduce the project, which is a community-based arts research study. The study is examining how meditative process art can influence health for women living with HIV and ally ship for those viewing the exhibition.

Please bring paper and a pencil to this session (or any other art materials you may have, for example coloured pencils, markers or pastels. We also encourage you to view the exhibition online ahead of this session.

Program highlight:  Women Living Well website re-design

The Living Well: Women with HIV website (by AFAO and NAPWHA) was launched on World AIDS Day 2015. An additional booklet was launched on 9 March 2016, as part of the inaugural National Day of Women Living with HIV in Australia, organised by Femfatales – a day of coordinated events connecting and supporting HIV-positive women across Australia.

Coming soon in late-2021:  This website will receive a refreshed website design with beautiful new illustrative artworks.

‘Living well’ marks the theme of 2022 National Day of Women Living with HIV

Each year, on March 9th, the National Network of Women Living with HIV 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.

In the lead up to our 7th National Day of Women Living with HIV on March 9th, 2022 we’re releasing a social media campaign. We asked positive women around the country to share their voices to help us celebrate the theme of this year’s National Day event #WomenLivingWell. The campaign aims to raise the profile of our unique perspectives and stories across the country.

This initiative by our National Network of Women Living with HIV heard from many positive women whose voices are being featured in 20 social media images.

“We asked what does living well mean to you? This is a theme which focuses on the importance of joy, health, wellbeing and connection in our lives,” says Kath Leane from the National Network.

“What does living well look like and feel like in your everyday life? What are some of the challenges to living well for women living with HIV? What changes would you like to see? What are your hopes for yourself and for other women?”

“When women living with HIV, in all their beautiful diversity, share their voices and tell their stories, we support each other; we end our own internalised stigma; and we raise awareness within the wider community,” says Heather Ellis also from the National Network. Heather is also the host of the ‘Our Stories: Ending HIV stigma‘ podcast series, published by Positive Women Victoria.

“The stories of all women living with HIV are so very powerful in fighting ignorance and ultimately ending HIV-related stigma once and for all.”

The short but powerful quotes in this campaign reflect the diversity, resilience, challenges and strengths of women’s lives. On this National Day, we continue making time to celebrate the lives, stories and resilience of positive women. by hosting events and raising the awareness and profile of women living with HIV in Australia.

See below a listing of events around Australia hosted by various  organisations, agencies and groups

See also previous National Day events:

‘Taking control of our health’ marks the theme of 2021 National Day of Women Living with HIV (March 2021)

Femfatales make a call to action for #EachforEqual increased awareness and equitable access to HIV testing (March 2020)

National Day of Women Living with HIV — Awareness. Celebrate. Advocate. Inspire. Empower. (March 2019)

Also visit the major makeover of the ‘Living Well: Women with HIV’ website

This year’s National Day of Women Living with HIV theme and socal media campaign initiative ties in with the Living Well: Women with HIV website.  This website having undergone a major makeover, offers wide ranging information about living with HIV, disclosing HIV status, having sex, taking treatment, caring for your body, having children, keeping well, and getting support. It was first published by AFAO and NAPWHA in 2016.

This new-look website Living Well: Women with HIV, reflects some of the ways the world of positive women has changed during the last few years, including the release of the The Breastfeeding for women living with HIV in Australia community resource which was launched in September 2021. The new design has been to enhance online access.

Women’s Morning Tea Event in Adelaide — Wed 9 March

Join SAMESH and The David Roche Foundation for a guided tour of Silhouettes: Fashion in the Shadow of HIV/AIDS, followed by a morning tea on the manicured grounds of The David Roche Museum.

Kath Leane from Positive Life SA (PLSA) and the National Network of Women living with HIV (NAPWHA) will also speak about the importance of the day and give us some history of women living with HIV in Australia.

When:  Wed, March 9, 2022 — 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM ACDT
Where:  The David Roche Foundation, 241 Melbourne Street, North Adelaide, SA 5006

Women’s Morning Tea Event in Brisbane — Wed 9 March

To commemorate this years 7th National Day of Women Living With HIV, QPP is hosting a Morning Tea at New Farm Park Rotunda, 10:30am, Wednesday, 9 March 2022.

Join us to celebrate Living Well this National Day of Women Living with HIV, enjoy a relaxed morning tea, share your experiences and even discuss the national social media campaign published and launched by NAPWHA on the day.

To RSVP for the event, please email info@qpp.org.au or phone 07 3013 5555. Please let us know if you have any dietary requirements too.

Women’s Breakfast Event in Perth — Wed 9 March

WAAC are hosting a Breakfast meeting for the SHEWomen Group to commemorate the National Women HIV Day at Biara Café (previous known as Stickybeaks Playground Café) located in Kings Park and Botanic Garden. on the Wednesday 9 March 2022 at 10–12 noon.

There is also the first Open Community Consultation for people living with HIV is on Tuesday 8 March. Finger food and soft drinks from 5:30pm–6:00pm.  The Consultation/Forum will be from 6:00–7:30pm.

Register your interest by contacting Melphina Moyo
WAAC HIV Peer Educator (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday)
Phone: 08 9482 0000  |  Mobile: 0436 431 435

Women’s Morning Tea Event in Sydney — Wed 9 March

Positive Life NSW invites women living with HIV and a guest to celebrate the lives of all women living with HIV over an Afternoon High Tea, at the Seventh National Day of Women living with HIV.

Join us as we 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, hear from a range of presenters speaking to our theme Living Well: Beyond Stigma and enjoy some light entertainment.

RSVP essential for catering purposes. Please advise dietary restrictions (gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan) on RSVP. Places limited to 50 guests.

Time: 2pm – 4pm
Place:  Sheraton Grand Sydney, Hyde Park, 161 Elizabeth Street, Sydney NSW
Register: (02) 9206-2177 or 1800 245 677 (freecall) by 5pm Wednesday 2 March or contact@positivelife.org.au

Listen to ‘Our Stories: Ending HIV Stigma‘ — a podcast series by Positive Women Victoria

Listen to Our Stories: Ending HIV Stigma, a podcast about women, by women living with HIV in Australia to challenge the myths and stereotypes that feed HIV stigma. We share our stories of achieving our personal and career goals, navigating sex and relationships, and our journey through pregnancy and motherhood in this new era of Undetectable equals Untransmittable (U=U).

Our stories are real, unfiltered and always inspiring. Hosted by Heather Ellis, a journalist and author, who has lived with HIV since 1995. Original podcast music by Mark Daniel. Podcast artwork by Carolina Relander.

Join the NAPWHA social media campaign:  Living Well — What it means to you

Each year, on March 9, the National Network of Women Living with HIV 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.

Our theme this year is ‘Living Well’, and focuses on the importance of joy, health, wellbeing, and connection in our lives.  If you are a woman living with HIV, we want to hear from you.

We want to hear what living well means to you. What does it look like? Feel like? What are your hopes for yourself and for other women? What work still needs to be done?

The goal of this campaign from the National Network of Women Living With HIV & NAPWHA is to celebrate our strengths and hopes, as well as highlighting the work that still needs to be done to make sure all women living with HIV have the support to truly live well.

We hope to share the words from women like you in a social media campaign to raise the profile of our unique perspectives and stories across the country. Of course, you can be anonymous if you like.

Get involved by responding to the short questions below with as much or as little detail as you like. Make sure you send us your words by Friday, 4th March.  We hope your voice will be part of it!

Our national social media campaign will be published and launched on NAPWHA’s social media channels and on the Positive Living website on the National Day on the 9th March.