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11 Apr 2019

Autumn 2019 Newsletter

The cooler weather is rolling in and reminding us that the summer festival season is over, but we're keeping busy with an array of activities across the organisation. Check out the latest edition of the newsletter to see what we've been up to. Whether it's supporting the health of women in our LGBTIQ communities or introducing a diverse range of fresh faces to our health promotion campaigns, there's a lot on at the moment. Plus, don't forget to check out the community calendar on the back page for upcoming events.

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Media Releases

23 Oct 2018

HIV and AIDS Priorities: working with the next Victorian Government to respond to HIV

Thorne Harbour Health, Living Positive Victoria, and Positive Women Victoria have released HIV and AIDS Priorities – a document that recommends 27 actions to improve the quality of life of people living with HIV and to build upon Victoria’s HIV targets, prevention, testing, and treatment efforts.HIV and AIDS Priorities also covers areas of stigma and discrimination, tobacco use amongst people living with HIV, and HIV-related law reform.Victoria’s major parties will have the opportunity to respond to the call at an event hosted at Thorne Harbour Health’s Positive Living Centre tonight (Tuesday 23 October 2018). Victoria’s record of action to reduce HIV transmissions and to support people with HIV should be enhanced through growing what works well and adding several new initiatives.Victoria’s three key community-controlled organisations working on HIV, Thorne Harbour Health, Living Positive Victoria, and Positive Women Victoria, have developed HIV and AIDS Priorities to help guide the next Victorian Government’s policy responses and continue to advance Victoria’s enviable record of support and action.Advances in treatment have made it possible to effectively suppress HIV replication and for people living with HIV to live normal lifespans. A sustained undetectable viral load eliminates the risk of HIV transmission, and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is also being used as an effective prevention measure. In order to fully capitalise on these advances, better prevent HIV, and improve the lives of people living with HIV, accessible and timely testing and diagnosis is required for all Victorians who may be at risk of HIV alongside access to treatment, care, and support. Thorne Harbour Health CEO Simon Ruth said, “Victoria’s sexual health service infrastructure has failed to keep up with the state’s population growth and is impeding our efforts to effectively tackle HIV and high rates of other STIs.”“We need to look for ways to expand our prevention and treatment service systems through GPs and Hospitals across Victoria. PEP should be available at every hospital and cost barriers to treatment should be removed.”Living Positive Victoria CEO Richard Keane said, “Victoria also requires action to end HIV-related stigma and discrimination. Anti-stigma campaigns should be funded, and family and peer support programs should be developed and extended. Unnecessary HIV disclosure should be discouraged through new guidelines.”Positive Women Victoria Executive Officer Kirsty Machon said, “Victorian women require a specific focus, to ensure that health promotion messages and prevention programs are having an impact, that testing rates for women are increased through targeted and appropriate outreach and the education of health care providers, and that all women are diagnosed in a timely manner, accessing the treatment they need, and with referral to support and services.”Click here to read HIV and AIDS Priorities.

27 Mar 2019

Thorne Harbour releases clip explaining on-demand PrEP as HIV prevention strategy

With the recent increase in the community dialogue around on-demand PrEP as an HIV prevention strategy, Thorne Harbour Health (formerly the Victorian AIDS Council) has released a video explaining how this alternative dosing option of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) works. PrEP is a highly effective HIV prevention strategy that includes HIV negative individuals regularly taking HIV medication to prevent the acquisition of HIV. Following approval by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration in 2016, PrEP was added to Australia’s PBS in April 2018. While PrEP is typically taken daily to prevent the acquisition of HIV, research has shown that on-demand PrEP is an effective alternative for people who don’t have sex frequently or struggle to adhere to daily dosing. On-demand PrEP includes taking two pills 2-24 hours before a sexual encounter and then a single pill 24 hours later and another 48 hours later. Additional dosing is necessary if you have additional sexual encounters during this 48 hour period. The video from Thorne Harbour explains the process in greater detail. On-demand PrEP dosing is included in the PrEP guidelines released by the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM). “We’re seeing an increased interest in using on-demand PrEP among the communities we work with, and it’s incredibly important that people understand how on-demand PrEP works before deciding to use this HIV prevention strategy,” said Thorne Harbour CEO Simon Ruth. “We’re at a point in the epidemic where we’re starting to realise the full potential of biomedical prevention. PrEP, alongside undetectable viral load through effective treatment, is leading the way as the most effective strategy at stopping the onward transmission of HIV.” “With nearly half a million PrEP users worldwide, PrEP is proven to be incredibly effective at preventing HIV. Here in Victoria, we have seen one of the most progressive community conversations around using this tool for HIV prevention,” said Thorne Harbour President Chad Hughes. “We need to keep pace with the communities we serve and ensure we provide them with evidence-based information so they can make an informed choice about looking after their sexual health and wellbeing.”Watch the on-demand PrEP video here.

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