Auckland Seminar to Demystify HIV

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 Community based HIV support organisation Body Positive present the 2016 HIV Treatment Update Seminar, a one day seminar about HIV in New Zealand.

Taking place on Friday 16 September and open to health professionals, support workers and people, as well as people living with HIV.

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Body Positive Executive Director Mark Fisher says that educating health professionals about issues surrounding HIV is one of the most important ways to ensure people living with the disease are able to access appropriate health care.

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He says that “the treatment update highlights the latest information pertaining to HIV in New Zealand in an accessible format. It supplements what people are learning through the medical system with the latest findings but its open to everyone. We have two expert speakers from Australia joining us to highlight their experiences. I’m looking forward to an update on the Australian PrEP program which is targeting 14000 people and is a prime prevention tool for them. The NZPrEP trial is getting closer and will hopefully launch soon – there will be an update at the Seminar from Rick Franklin (ARSH is the lead on this project). We also have new Hepatitis C treatments available in NZ and we will hear from A/Prof Jeffrey Post on the Australian experience. Jeffrey will update us on the work that has been happening in Australian prisons with regard to HIV, HCV treatment and prevention – such as needle exchange programs in prisons.”

“With New Zealand recording its highest ever number of new infections last year it is important to keep people informed and engaged with the current information and utilize all of the prevention tools available to us. One of the exciting announcements out of AIDS2016 was from the partner study which showed that when a person is adherent to their medication and engaged in care such that they maintain an undetectable viral load has a “negligible risk” of passing on HIV. This is using Treatment as Prevention (TasP) and given the low prevalence of HIV in NZ (3200 at the end of 2015) if we connect with people living with HIV and engage and maintain them in care it improves their health outcomes and reduces transmission. It is an excellent way to make a significant change in the number of new infections and is a natural outcome from our work supporting people living with HIV. Combine this with PrEP, Testing and access to condoms and this prevention toolkit gives us the possibility to end transmission of HIV in NZ.”

Guest speakers include Mark Fisher, NZAF Executive Executive Director Jason Myers, University of Otago’s Sue McAllister, Positive Women National Co-ordinator Jane Brunning and Simon Briggs from Auckland District Health Board.The objective of the seminar is provide an overview of HIV/AIDS epidemiology in New Zealand today. This includes investigating the current experience for people living with HIV, examining international responses to HIV from the US and Australia, and educating on the science behind HIV transmission and viral reproduction. The seminar will also tackle changing treatment options and complications, aging with HIV, and an overview of HIV services delivered in New Zealand today.

 Fisher says that “the Ministry of Health is coming to talk to the latest development in their new sexual health action plan – the last HIV strategy was from 2003. In addition they will discuss the changes to the Health Protection Act which come into effect on January 4th making HIV a notifiable disease and what this actually means for people living with HIV.

The seminar will commence with registration at 8.30am and conclude at 4.10pm with slide presentations being made available online for those who can not attend.

For more information and to register for the evening, visit the Body Positive website.

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