Friday 20 November 2015

Charlie Sheen: Commentary from Australian HIV advocates

On 17 November the news broke that actor Charlie Sheen was about to do an interview in which he would disclose that he had HIV. 

On 18 November this rumour was confirmed, with Sheen announcing that he had been living with HIV since 2011, had an undetectable viral load, and had been blackmailed to the tune of millions of dollars by people to whom he’d disclosed.

Social and online media exploded, and concern about the potentially stigmatising impact on people with HIV was uppermost in the minds of HIV advocates around the world. Organisations such as AFAO and our members rapidly put out media statements or circulated information to encourage the media to report sensitively.

On the positive side, the media circus provided an opportunity to raise awareness about HIV and publicise accurate information to counter the decades-old myths that still circulate.

This blog post links to Australian community media and HIV sector responses to Charlie Sheen’s disclosure.

If you have links to other useful Australian stories commenting on Charlie Sheen, please post them in the comments.

Friday 30 October 2015

HIV video fest

Mini film festivals were a key part of the Community and Advocacy Hubs hosted by AFAO at ASHM’s last two national HIV conferences, and also at AIDS 2014. 

This year, once again, we had an awesome selection of videos from our members and other HIV sector partners, with the videos running on a continuous loop between Hub presentations.

Here’s a selection from the program. There were so many that we can’t share them all, so make sure you click through to the organisations’ channels for more.

Friday 16 October 2015

Raise your voice against stigma and homophobia

Speaking out against prejudice is a vital step towards changing community attitudes that stigmatise people with HIV and people who are at greater risk of contracting HIV.
When people raise their voices against stigma, it makes it easier for people who have HIV, who are gay, who use drugs, or are sex workers, to access the information, prevention tools, and treatments and care that they need to stay safe and well. Faith leaders play a critical role in the response to HIV through model compassion and supporting evidence-based approaches to HIV prevention and care.

Thursday 15 October 2015

AFAO Hub buzzes at ASHM 2015

The AFAO Community and Advocacy Hub was an exciting and stimulating focal point of the national HIV (ASHM) Conference in Brisbane over 17 and 18 September. 

Hundreds of conference delegates enjoyed a wide range of presentations, Q & A sessions and film screenings.

AFAO's Michael Frommer reports back.

Monday 7 September 2015

JumpStart: building the capacity of MSM and transgender networks across Asia and the Pacific

The APCOM team, led by Joe and A, present JumpStart
findings to Khun Somchai Promsombat, Executive Director
at the Poz Home Center.
JumpStart is an AFAO/APCOM project, which aims to build the capacity of MSM and transgender national networks to effectively engage with HIV responses in the Greater Mekong and ISEAN sub-regions.

In 2015, JumpStart published a Regional Analysis Report assessing the capacity of regional, sub-regional and national MSM and transgender organisations and networks working across Asia and the Pacific.

Monday 27 July 2015

Don't leave Indigenous communities behind: Marama Pala closes IAS 2015

Marama Pala, IIWGHA CO-Chair,  at the closing of IAS 2015

AFAO's Ben Wilcock reports back from the closing of IAS 2015.

After summaries of the four main tracks of the conference were presented in the closing session of the #IAS2015 conference, the conference attendees had the honour of being present for an inspiring talk by Marama Pala, Co-Chair of the International Indigenous Working Group on HIV & AIDS (IIWGHA).

A Cure For All: 2nd International HIV/Viral Hepatitis Co-infection Meeting

AFAO Health Promotion Officer, Ben Wilcock, reports back on the 2nd International HIV/Viral Hepatitis Co-infection Meeting, held in Vancouver.

On Friday and Saturday (17-18 July), I was fortunate to be able to attend the 2nd International HIV/Viral Hepatitis Co-infection Meeting in Vancouver. It was an official event before the IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (#IAS2015).

There were a range of issues covered relating to HIV and viral hepatitis co-infections (both hepatitis B and C), with a particular focus on building momentum towards expanding hepatitis C treatment access globally for people co-infected with HIV and viral hepatitis, in the light of the new range of direct-acting antiviral (DAA) treatments for hepatitis C now available (though often not yet accessible) and in the pipeline. (See: #ACureForAll for more info).

Thursday 23 July 2015

IAS 2015: Reaching 90-90-90

AFAO Policy Analyst, Michael Frommer discusses day one of IAS 2015.

Questions about the best way to facilitate access to testing in order to reach the UNAIDS target of 90% of people with HIV diagnosed was a recurring theme in sessions on the first day of IAS 2015,  Vancouver.

Future directions of the IAS: share your views

IAS2015 at the Vancouver Convention Centre

The International AIDS Society (IAS) is engaging with stakeholders to help develop a new strategic plan.

During the IAS 2015 conference, the International AIDS Society has been holding a series of strategic planning consultations with members, as well as calling for input via an online Membership and Strategy Survey.

A key issue in the consultation for the new IAS 2016-2020 plan is what balance is struck between its three key missions; representing HIV professionals; convening the IAS conferences; and engaging in advocacy.  

Tuesday 21 July 2015

IAS 2015: Disclosure and HIV criminalisation advocacy

Alison Symington, Canadian
HIV/AIDS Legal Network.
The 8th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2015) is on in Vancouver, Canada, this week. AFAO Policy Analyst Michael Frommer reports back on the pre-conference community forum. 

Key human rights challenges, such as criminalisation of HIV transmission, were centre stage at the IAS community forum on Saturday 18 July.

Alison Symington, co-director of Research and Policy at the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network (Legal Network), described the challenge of advocacy and policy work in Canada in the face of ongoing criminalisation.

Friday 3 July 2015

Support Don’t Punish Day of Action

There was resounding agreement that the 'War on Drugs' has failed at the AIVL/NUAA day of action celebrating the global movement Support Don’t Punish

L to R: Leah McLeod - NUAA, Peter Baume AC, Nicholas Stewart - Dowson Turco, Jude Byrne - AIVL, Will Tregoning - Unharm
Held at NSW Parliament on 26 June, the impressive range of speakers included ex federal Senator Peter Baume – renowned for the key role he played in fostering a constructive political response to HIV in the late 1980s, Jude Byrne from the Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL), Nicholas Stewart, a private legal practitioner and volunteer lawyer at Sydney’s Inner-City Legal Centre, and Will Tregoning from Unharm – a drug law reform advocacy organisation.

Monday 29 June 2015

HIV: a conversation in dance

James Welsby, Chafia Brooks and Benjamin Hancock.
Photo: Gregory Lorenzutti 
'HEX' is a one hour contemporary dance show that looks at the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and early 1990s from a Gen Y perspective. 

Guest blogger and dance maker James Welsby explains how the show came about.

I've known about ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) for a while, but the recent release of a few core-shaking documentaries made of archival footage has allowed me to take a much closer look at the movement and get a stronger idea of what it felt like to be involved in AIDS activism.

Monday 22 June 2015

Doing Debby in Darlinghurst

A print in Difficult Debby's
Whore Love series.
In early June, a collective of sex worker artists who call themselves Debby Doesn't Do It For Free hosted an exhibition of new and old artworks in Darlinghurst, Sydney. 

Difficult Debby explained what it was all about in her post on this blog in the lead-up to the exhibition.

Once the exhibition opened, AFAO Project Officer Jill Sergeant went along. In this photo-essay she shares her experience at a special viewing session for allies to sex workers.

Tuesday 2 June 2015

Advocacy and updates: AFAO Members Forum day two

Craig Cooper from Positive Life NSW opened day two of forum with an update about community dispensing of ARVs  in NSW.

On Day two of the Forum, participants posed for a photo in solidarity with the
International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia

HIV testing: AFAO Members Forum

The second session of the AFAO Members Forum explored various testing options and innovative approaches which have increased HIV testing rates among communities.

'Beyond the targets': AFAO Members Forum 2015 session one

Day one of the AFAO Members Forum opened with ‘Beyond the targets’, a session focusing on research as a tool to leverage policy goals for the sector.

TasP and PrEP: AFAO Members Forum

The afternoon session on day one of the AFAO Members Forum involved robust discussions about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and treatment as prevention (TasP). 

Presentations looked at key areas including research, clinical guidelines, regulation and advocacy, both in Australia and the international context.

TasP panel discussion. L-R: Colin Batrouney (VAC), Cam Cox (Scarlet Alliance),
Bridget Haire (AFAO), Robert Mitchell (NAPWHA), Karen Price (ACON)

AFAO Members Forum 2015: A brief summary

On 15-16 May, AFAO held our 2015 Members Forum in Sydney. The forum is a chance for AFAO members to come together to network and discuss issues and strategies for the coming year.


Friday 22 May 2015

Debby Doesn’t Do It For Free

The Debby Doesn't Do It For Free interactive exhibition is coming to Sydney from 2 - 6 June.

Opening on International Whore's Day at the Tap Gallery, the exhibition's described as a 'celebration and homage to sex work'. It will include videos, prints, soundscapes, installations, the popular 'Ask a Hooker a Question' booth and more.

The exhibition is put together by the Debbys - an independent sex worker art and performance collective inspired by the 70s porn film Debby Does Dallas. It's a fun opportunity to find out more about sex work and sex workers' lives, politics, advocacy and creativity.

We asked one of the artists, Difficult Debby, to tell us more.

Thursday 14 May 2015

Candlelight memorial 2015

The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial is celebrated around the world every year to commemorate those we've lost to AIDS, and draw attention to the challenges HIV still presents.

This year, the theme, 'Supporting the future', highlights the need for sustained investment in HIV prevention and treatments access at a time when the technologies exist to turn the epidemic around and ending HIV is more of a possibility than ever before.

The theme also highlights the vital importance of continuing to promote the human rights of affected populations to ensure their needs are addressed in the HIV response.

Even if you don't attend a Candlelight event, this time of year is an opportunity for reflection. For example, Melbourne's LGBTI radio station Joy FM 94.9, Living Positive Victoria and the Victorian AIDS Council put together an inspiring ten minute radio program, in which people living with and affected by HIV talk about what it means to 'support the future'.

Listen here

We also asked some of our members and partners around Australia to tell us what the memorial means to them.

Wednesday 6 May 2015

Our blog turns 3

Since April 2012 we've published 80 articles on this blog. We've covered many important topics, including human rights, HIV prevention, stigma, e-health and the experience of different HIV-affected populations.

We've used the blog to promote, report back and reflect on events large and small, from AIDS 2014 to roundtable discussions, to the Candlelight Memorial (stay tuned).

To celebrate turning 3, we're reviewing the blog. Can you help us do this by completing a short survey?

Wednesday 18 March 2015

High-profile panel discusses anti-discrimination protections

Former Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graham Innes AO dispensed some very practical advice on how to get the biggest bang from your buck for a discrimination complaint, at an excellent panel event convened on 10 March by the HIV AIDS Legal Centre (HALC).

Hosted at the offices of DLA Piper, Sydney, the panel also included Shadow Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC MP, NSW Magistrate Nancy Hennessey, and partner in employment law at DLA Piper Brett Feltham.

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Migration, social disadvantage & health

It's not often you go to a conference which opens with one of the keynotes literally juggling, but Associate Professor Kevin Pottie, from the University of Ottawa, did just that at the recent Migration, Social Disadvantage & Health conference in Melbourne.

He only just succeeded in keeping three balls in the air, which aptly demonstrated the difficulties of ensuring health equity for migrants. The balls represented political will, support and education for health practitioners, and the policy & social determinants of health. It was an excellent start to a conference in which a wide range of engaging presentations and discussions provided ample evidence for the challenges of keeping all of these factors in balance and working together to produce better health outcomes for migrants in Australia and internationally.

Friday 27 February 2015

Don't forget about PEP (CROI Day 4)

AFAO Health Promotion Officer, Sean Slavin, blogs live from CROI 2015:

Amidst all the excitement at ‪#‎CROI2015‬ about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a session this afternoon on post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) - 'PEP: Remember Me?' - was an important reminder that this prevention technology should not be forgotten.

Hepatitis C: "Mission accomplished"? (CROI 2015 Day 4)

AFAO Health Promotion Officer, Sean Slavin, blogs live from CROI 2015:

A cure for hepatitis C? "Mission accomplished" is the message from ‪#‎CROI2015‬, as a range of new drugs demonstrate high efficacy with minimal side effects. A number of these have been approved for use in the US.

Implementation, however, is in its infancy and there are currently significant cost barriers with the drug manufacturers struggling to demonstrate cost effectiveness at current prices.In recent weeks competitive bidding began in the US between rival manufacturers and prices are expected to fall as more agents come onto the market.

Thursday 26 February 2015

HIV and lung cancer: smoking is a greater risk than HIV (CROI 2015 Day 3)

AFAO Health Promotion Officer, Sean Slavin, blogs live from CROI 2015:
In a session today at ‪#‎CROI2015‬ on cancer and HIV, lung cancer was highlighted as one of the most prevalent among people with HIV.

PrEP and women: low adherance highlights stigma and gender inequality (CROI 2015 Day 2)

AFAO Health Promotion Officer, Sean Slavin, blogs live from CROI 2015:

One of the most interesting papers at ‪#‎CROI2015‬ today was about the failure of Tenofovir gel as PrEP for women in the South African FACTS 001 trial. This study, among young, poor women showed that adherence is indeed a challenge and not necessarily because of any failure of the participants.

Good news on PrEP for gay men (CROI 2015 Day 1)

The annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2015) is being held in Seatle from 23-26 February. AFAO Health Promotion Officer Sean Slavin  is blogging live from Seattle, reflecting on some of the key highlights: