Day 1 of APACC 2017
Other bloggers have written eloquently on sessions on day 1 at this meeting so I thought I might report on my impressions on the 'first 24 hours' of APACC 2017.
At conferences such as these, i am constantly reminded how lucky I am to be practising HIV Medicine in Australia, with universal healthcare and the PBS system for access to medications.
Australian clinicians and leaders in HIV Medicine (both in policy, research and mentoring) have been providing significant, and exemplary, leadership in the Asia Pacific region. This is certainly seen in the high regard and respect that is extended to Australian clinicians present at APACC. I had not realised this, but now wonder if there has been any interchange of knowledge at the 'grassroots' level of HIV care. I believe that we have a fantastic model of primary care management of HIV in Australia, and wonder if that is translatable to our regional neighbours. This may be an area for further exploration in the future, esp. as the RACGP already has associations with primary care groups in Malaysia and Hong Kong
Many Asia Pacific countries can be considered 'resource limited' in terms of support from their government/health agencies and limited access to medications eg. China's public health clinicians do not have access to INSTI's or ANY STR's. The Chinese National Free Antiretroviral Treatment Program only has access to 3TC, AZT, d4T, ddI, NVP, TDF and EFV. Most recently LPV/r was added as the 2nd line option. Contrast this to Australian clinicians who are mostly proactively getting rid of Atripla from our medical armamentarium, switching to TAF containing STRs and have access to INSTI's.
Chemsex is also an issue in Hong Kong, as it is in Australia. A poster presentation which surveyed 30 HIV positive men diagnosed recently, revealed that all had used methamphetamine in the context of sex, and 73% of participants fulfilled DSM-IV criteria for stimulant dependence syndrome.
There is a ART backbone 'turf war' going on in the region due to the rise of the concept of dual drug therapy in HIV. In their industry-sponsored symposia, arguments were put forth for maintaining a 3-drug backbone esp with TAF which is not currently in widespread use in the region vs. moving to a 2-drug regimen for naive or switch therapies which has appeal to the region ie less cost.