QPP are always finding ways to upskill our staff in order to keep our service provision as up-to-date and high quality as possible. Earlier in November, QPP sent staff members to ASHM’s HIV/AIDS conference to learn about how the HIV sector is going in Australia, Asia and the Pacific region. Here is what a few of our staff had to say about the conference…
The ASHM symposium was little overwhelming, to be surrounded by so many incredible people who have dedicated their careers, some even their lives to improving the health and well being of those living with HIV, it was humbling to say the least. It was astounding to see how far we have come, and amazing to see how far we have to go.
The ASHM conference was an enriching and thought provoking experience. I took home a number of messages around policy, care and prevention, the 90/90/90 goals and the importance of PLHIV community partnerships with social research. In addition, I learnt of an integrative approach to capture the “lost populations.” We are certainly marking our territory as QPP through peer navigation in the revolutionized research agenda.
Reflecting on my experience at Australasian HIV/AIDS Conference this year, I am still astonished to learn that there are many lessons relevant to the Peer Navigation program at Queensland Positive People. As the team leader, I am looking forward to sharing these lessons with other Peer Navigators during the upcoming training in late November 2017. Furthermore, I also had the opportunity to understand how my work with Medicare ineligible PLHIV is related to the other issues in culturally and linguistically diverse populations.
Throughout the conference, we were reminded of the relationship between stigma, treatment adherence, and Quality of Life (QoL). This relationship is even more important now with PozQoL ready to commence its implementation trial as presented by Graham Brown (Optimising Quality of Life – The fourth 90% – How to include quality of life in guidelines). With QPP currently in the process of establishing a peer-led stigma reduction intervention program, peer support workers, such as Peer Navigators, will be at the frontline of the battle against HIV stigma to improve the QoL of PLHIV community.
Meeting stakeholders from other States and Territories was also an amazing experience that helps me to identify ways to improve our work at QPP. I hope that QPP can share the impact of implementing these lessons to our programs in future conferences.
I am so glad to have had the opportunity to attend ASHM this year along with my colleagues at QPP. I found two sessions particularly interesting: “When policy puts people at risk” and “Are we there yet? Reaching global goals for HIV in Asia and Pacific regions.”
I learnt that many countries in Asia and the Pacific regions are certainly not expecting to reach the 90 targets and have set slightly more realistic targets for these groups. A major barrier in accessing these populations is largely due to policy in relation to sex workers, people who inject drugs and men who have sex with men. The policies force people who engage in these behaviours to do so “underground” making them extremely hard to reach. An additional barrier to achieving these goals is funding. Quite a few countries is Asia and the Pacific region are now transitioning from low to middle income countries, reducing their access to the global fund and needing to rely more on their government for funding towards their PLHIV and harm reduction programs.
In relation to Australian policy, presenters talked about the lack of acceptance for NSPs in Australian prisons, despite their success in other countries, among many other policy barriers to effective care and prevention. Interestingly, while Australia is very different to many Asian countries, our issues around HIV related policy and funding is not so dissimilar.
As the other staff members have said above, we have come a long way, but there is certainly still a long way to go.