ASHM Report Back

Clinical posts from members and guests of the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) from various international medical and scientific conferences on HIV, AIDS, viral hepatitis, and sexual health.

Divergent rates of HIV in Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander

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Dr James Ward gave us a thought provoking opening speech outlining the recent increase (i.e. divergence) of HIV infection rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders compared with the general population.  Here are the take home messages from the talk:

 

  • initially rates of HIV infection were similar between Indigenous and TSI, but numbers are now increasing
  • 2015 marked the highest rate of new diagnoses (n=38)
  • new diagnoses of HIV are occurring in rural and remote areas, which has never been seen before
  • why?
    • background: young, more mobile, more regional
    • risks: injecting equipment, high background of STIs
    • success in non-indigenous diagnosis
    • failure to engage with community
  • how to improve?
    • increasing workforce rather than downsizing
    • timely surveillance data (absurd that we deal with 2015 data in Nov 2016)
    • implementation of a national KPIs reportable for STIs by Aboriginal PHC
    • change to AHC, make STI/BBV checks more mandatory
    • Medicare items specific to BBV/STIs
    • improved testing strategies
      • only 32% of people with a positive STI screen had an HIV test within 30 days

 

I found the session a real eye opener and saw that there were plenty of areas that we could improve in. Simply increasing the rigor at which we conduct testing would seemingly make a big difference.

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