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.

Tawhanga	Nopera

Tawhanga Nopera

I have lived with HIV since I was 22, contracting the virus through unprotected sex in 1998. I identify as takatāpui and am a genderfluid Māori person who lives in my tribal village connected to my whānau, hāpū and iwi, or family, subtribes and tribes. I have been a professional artist since 2007 and recently submitted the first creative practice PhD through the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Waikato. My research focuses on ways that raranga, a traditional Māori weaving process, can be used as a methodological approach to heal gender identity and sexual trauma. Specifically, within my research and creative practice I use raranga to analyse, interpret and transform lived realities of marginalised people.


Julie began her presentation with a slide that outlined food security measures as quantifying the availability of food; the ability to access available food; the ability to utilise available food, and; the stability of accessible and available food sources.


In Australia, 1 in 6 people report having experienced food insecurity at least once in the last 12 months (Food Bank, 2016), which aligns with other data pertaining to food insecurity. Thus far, the prevalence of food insecurity amongst people living with HIV is unknown.


The rationale for the study is underpinned by literature that links food insecurity to adherence issues. Also, the HIV Futures 6 study showed that 42% of people living with HIV received financial support through government means and that 31% lived below the poverty line.


Julie’s study utilised data from participants who utilised service across 6 sites in Sydney. The goal was to have 200 participants of varying age and ethnic backgrounds and with varying CD4 counts and viral loads. Administered through a phone survey, the study involved asking participants questions that were rated using the USDA six item subset tool. 162 participants were surveyed (92% male and 8% female) which ultimately matched the gender balance of the HIV Futures study. Of those surveyed, it was found that 47% were food insecure.


All Indigenous respondents surveyed were found to be food insecure. Key factors for food insecurity included being unemployed or living on a pension; inner-city living; a low CD4 count, and; a lower self-perception of health. Employment and education beyond high-school level led to better food security for those surveyed.


Julie emphasised that an awareness of food insecurity for people living with HIV may be lacking in the sector and that this is an issue that needs further investigation.



Dr Power began her presentation with a brief outline of Stigma, stating that “stigma is a social product”, rather than something that is an innate part of who we are as people.


Her research focussed on findings that have emerged from the HIV futures study, which began in 1997 and is repeated and added to every two years. In this aspect of the study, Dr Power measured the social impact of enacted stigma that people living with HIV encountered, assessing levels of internalised stigma and also anticipated stigma. Ultimately, the study is intended to show the relationship between stigma and health outcomes; seeking to find ways to use the data toward strategies to combat stigma.


Participants in the research were surveyed through the most recent HIV futures 8 study. Questions repeated those of previous studies, but also new questions were developed using language that participants of previous studies had used to describe the impact of stigma.


Findings highlighted a significant increase in disclosure related fears, with isolation and social withdrawal being a dominant theme. People living with HIV who reported lower perceived stigma reported higher levels of social support, higher levels of disclosure and good relationships with the healthcare professionals they engaged with.


Stigma encountered within the workplace and anxiety about unintended disclosure at work featured highly in participant responses. Dr Power explained that these findings enables strategising toward combatting stigma through workplace focused initiatives. Even though the workplace often dominates people’s ability to move through life and is entrenched with hierarchies, workplaces are also structures through which to communicate. The findings of Dr Power’s research provides good evidence for resilience through workplace social support programs.






RT @hepqld: Curing #hepatitis C is easy, and no longer needs a specialist to prescribe treatment. Community doctors play a pivotal role in…