Four Australian HIV community organisations have received a share in close to $155,000 funding through ViiV Healthcare’s Positive Action Community Grants (PACG) 2017 program. The grants support local organisations to implement programs that respond to some of the most pressing issues facing people living with HIV (PLHIV) and reduce the impact of HIV in Australia. Funds are allocated to community-led programs addressing stigma and discrimination; barriers to testing, treatment and care; and quality of life for PLHIV.

Now in its third year, ViiV Healthcare’s PACG 2017 program has awarded grants to the National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) for a HIV and ageing program to address retention in care and quality of life for PLHIV and Queensland Positive People for a peer-led stigma reduction intervention program to support resilience building, engagement in care and improve quality of life of PLHIV.

It has also awarded grants to Positive Women Victoria for a research project looking at the needs of women from African diaspora communities in Victoria living with HIV to support linkage to care and improvement of quality of life and Living Positive Victoria for a program involving HIV peer-liaison in general practice clinics to support retention in care for people newly diagnosed.

“Ensuring our future response to HIV is effective and relevant requires the meaningful involvement of PLHIV. That’s why, at ViiV Healthcare, we believe it is crucial that communities have the resources to develop and implement programs that are relevant to their community members. By allocating vital funds where they are needed most, we hope that a real, lasting and positive impact on Australia’s HIV community can be achieved,” ViiV Healthcare Australia’s Community Affairs Manager, Oonagh Rocks said.

Medical advances are enabling PLHIV to live longer and it’s expected that 44% of Australian PLHIV will be aged over 55 by 2020. As the HIV population ages they are likely to experience more health issues than the general population. A better understanding of these issues is required to help PLHIV have a good future quality of life. The National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) has been awarded a grant to explore these challenges and develop an advocacy agenda for HIV and ageing.

“Our PACG grant will support research into the emerging issues relating to ageing with HIV in Australia, such as the impact of co-morbidities. This will enable us to plan and respond to this urgent challenge facing the country’s ageing and disability sectors, to meet the future needs of Australia’s HIV population,” NAPWHA Executive Director, Aaron Cogle explained.

Investigation into HIV care in Australia reveals gaps in the provision of support for people recently diagnosed with HIV. The most recent Kirby Institute Annual Surveillance Report published in 2016 shows that of those living with HIV 90% are diagnosed, but 15% are not in care, 25% are not on antiretroviral therapy and 31% do not have controlled virus levels.
HIV stigma remains a debilitating feature for those living with the virus and can occur at both the population and individual level. Queensland Positive People will be provided with a grant to support the development of a stigma resilience workshop and module for Peer Navigators.

“Queensland differs to other states in that a large percentage of the PLHIV population reside in rural and regional locations making them more vulnerable to social isolation and experiences of stigma and discrimination. By holding peer-led workshops in both Brisbane and in rural Queensland we aim to reach PLHIV right across Queensland,” Queensland Positive People Life+ Program Manager, Chris Howard explained.

More information about the 2017 PACG programs can be found at www.viivhealthcare.com.au

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