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October 2019: HIV Treatment and Care in PNG

The crises facing the HIV treatment and care responses in Papua New Guinea are grave. Findings presented at the recent HIV Summit in Port Moresby in August and in turn at the Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference in Perth this September present a worrying picture. PNG has one of the highest levels of ART drug resistance in the world. Additionally, maternal child transmission remains persistently high and key populations can find it difficult to access services even where they exist due to high levels of stigma and fears of discrimination.

ASHM has been supporting the national response to HIV in PNG for many years. At the Conference in Perth during a session focused on a Call to Action for HIV Treatment and Care in PNG, ASHM’s senior international clinical advisor Dr Arun Menon warned that access to treatment and rising drug resistance are key issues that require urgent action from the international community.

With these challenges in mind, ASHM and our partners have come together to produce a collective and urgent Call to Action, outlining our critical concerns and heavily informed by our PNG based colleagues’ advice, observations and recommendations with the aim of reaching donors and drawing their attention to a series of priority actions, which, if implemented, could have a significant impact on the quality of life for our nearest neighbours. Please see more here



The ASHM PrEP Guidelineshave been reviewed and updated aiming to further removing barriers to PrEP access. The guidelines have been submitted to the Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections Standing Committee for endorsement as National Guidelines. 
Dr Vincent Cornelisse presented key updates to the guidelines at the 2019 Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference in Perth on behalf of the ASHM PrEP Guidelines Panel. See more 

HIV, Ageing and Quality of Life Roundtable: ASHM and the Seniors Rights Service co-hosted the HIV, Ageing and Quality of Life Roundtable in Melbourne on the 23rd of August. The roundtable brought together community leaders, people living with HIV, clinical health specialists, allied health representatives as well as HIV and aged care service providers to review and reflect upon the capacity and constraints of the HIV and aged care sectors to support people living with HIV as they age. See more here

Guide to Australian HIV Laws and Policies for Healthcare Professionals: has undergone a comprehensive content update led by Michael Frommer, and a user friendly redesign of the website. The update includes the addition of two new sections; Mandatory Testing for HIV and My Health Record. Significant jurisdictional updates throughout the website reflect changes in State and Territory laws since the last review in 2013. 

Noongar Boodja Statement: support closing the gap on STIs & BBVs among the Indigenous peoples of Australasia. See the website to pledge your support and for more information. 

Australian College of Nursing National Nursing Forum: ASHM Clinical Nurse Lead Melinda Hassall presented evaluation data from the Removing Barriers Project at the ACN National Nursing Forum held in Hobart on 21-23 August 2019. The survey results and nurses’ concerns highlight the continued need to promote ASHM’s Removing Barriers work and the inclusion of stigma and discrimination content in our education and rhetoric. More here

Hepatitis B education delivered to Aboriginal Health Workers in the Northern Territory: The training was developed and delivered as part of the Partnership Approach to Sustainably eliminating Chronic Hepatitis B in the Northern Territory (Hep B PAST) project which is working towards the elimination of Chronic Hepatitis B from Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory. See more on the training here

New articles present recommendations for screening and prophylaxis to prevent hepatitis B reactivation in immunosuppression: Four articles have been released by Joe Sasadeusz et al. facilitated by ASHM and an unconditional grant from Gilead Sciences. The authors included Australian experts from the hepatitis B sector. See more on the key findings here

Syphilis Outbreak Training Website: Training is now available for health practitioners working in areas affected by the ongoing outbreak of infectious syphilis among young Aboriginal people in regions of Qld, NT, WA and SA. The training can be accessed at no cost on the ASHM Online Learning System under STI/BBVs in the course catalogue. See more here


"42% of patients in PNG re-commencing ART after interruptions do not respond to treatment due to acquired drug resistance. The rise in drug resistance is a serious threat to global health if not urgently addressed, resulting in unnecessary deaths, an increase in hard-to-treat infections, and ultimately, increased health-care costs"

- Dr Arun Menon, ASHM International Senior Clinical Advisor


ASHM Office
We welcome Vanessa Towell back to ASHM following maternity leave.
Vanessa has returned to the role of Director of Programs in the National Policy and Education Division. We wish Vanessa all the best with the new addition to her family - and with her extensive experience mothering us in the office we know she'll do a great job at home! Welcome back Vanessa. 

ASHM Conferences
2020 Conference Dates:

Australasian HIV&AIDS
and Sexual Health Conference

21 - 24 September 2020
Melbourne, Victoria 

9th International Conference on
Hepatitis Care in Substance Users

8 - 10 October 2020
Glasgow, Scotland