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Day 1: Afternoon Session
Welcome back to the afternoon (evening really, my laptop ran out of juice). In case you were wondering, it did eventually stop raining. Also, apologies for the formatting error in my last post, I'm sorry you had to see that.
The afternoon session in the main theatre was PrEP and was fascinating. I chose share with you the EPIC-NSW analysis done by Associate Professor Rebecca Guy from the Kirby Institute at UNSW.
Quickly a bit of information for those not from NSW or familiar with this program. Expanded PrEP Implementation in Communities in New South Wales (EPIC-NSW) is a study commenced in March 2016 and was designed to provide free access to PrEP to people at high-risk of HIV infection for free. This is the result of an active partnership between NSW Health, the Kirby Institute, ACON and clinical services involved in the study. The study was planned to have a rapid rollout and high clinical coverage within target populations and now has enrolled over 7,500 participants.
Rebecca spoke to the study, highlighting the similarities and disparities in demographics of people enrolled in the study and with data for new HIV notifications in MSM. The data for HIV notifications was taken from 2015 and the EPIC-NSW data up to and including September 2017.
Rebecca told us how the data shows mostly similarity in the capture of population at risk within the age, locality (urban vs. regional and remote) and to a somewhat lesser degree people identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Straight Islander (ATSI). However the one area demonstrated to have a disparity between the data and HIV notifications is that of people born overseas. Rebecca’s analysis has shown that in particular, people born in South East Asia (SEA) and North East Asia (NEA) are not reflected within the EPIC-NSW enrolments. From the data above, the rate of HIV notifications for persons born in NEA or SEA are 2.5 and 2.4 times respectively compared to the numbers reflected within the EPIC-NSW data.
In 2017 ACON increased the number of culturally appropriate programs, advertisements and information was released, targeting these populations. Examples such as posters in other languages and programs and information targeted to particular language groups has coincided with a marked increase in the population reflected within the study.
Rebecca concluded that although we mostly have participation that reflects the population targeted, we still have work to be done in order to reach the goals of the EPIC-NSW study.
Through my position in a sexual health clinic, I have been involved with this study, although I am well and truly at the lower end of the food chain than Rebecca. It is worth recognising the impacts on changing information available and making culturally appropriate services available to engage an under represented population. This is a great example of how changes in strategy can have a significant effect, although as Rebecca said, there is more work to be done.
I will be back tomorrow and hopefully won't be writing so late, I am now more prepared for batteries running out mid session. See you tomorrow!