People with HIV (PWHIV) experience significantly higher rates of psychological difficulties than the general population. Psychological factors can contribute significantly to quality of life and disease management in PWHIV 1,2,3.
The Australian Standards for Psychological Support for Adults with HIV are based on the UK Standards for Psychological Support for Adults Living with HIV4 published in November 2011. It is due for completion and publishing in 2017.
ASHM formed a committee to review the UK Standards and their applicability to a national Australian context. Guided by the committee’s review, the standards were adapted and reshaped into current best practice as a national resource, by experts from the Psychology Unit at the Albion Centre and the National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA).
After a draft of the standards was completed, the document was reviewed by the committee and a number of stakeholders, representing key end users of the standards.
What are the standards?
The document sets out standards for psychological support which should be available for all adults living with HIV in Australia.
Who should use the standards?
The standards represent current best practice and are intended to apply to all services providing psychological support for adults living with HIV.
For the purposes of this document, psychological support is defined as ‘any form of support which is aimed at helping people with HIV to enhance their mental health and their cognitive, emotional and behavioural wellbeing’. Psychological support is provided by a wide range of professional groups, peers and informal providers, in clinical settings and in the community.
A snapshot of the standards:
Standard 1 - promotion of mental and psychological wellbeing: People with HIV (PWHIV) should receive care which promotes their emotional, cognitive and behavioural wellbeing (psychological wellbeing) and is sensitive to the unique aspects of living with HIV.
Standard 2 - comprehensive psychological support services: PWHIV should have access to a range of psychological support services appropriate to their needs.
Standard 3 - engagement of people with HIV: PWHIV should be engaged in the planning, delivery and evaluation of psychological support services.
Standard 4 - support at the time of diagnosis: PWHIV should have timely access to information and appropriate emotional support following the diagnosis of HIV infection.
Standard 5 - identifying psychological support needs: PWHIV should have access to regular screening to identify if they have psychological support needs.
Standard 6 - competence to provide psychological support: PWHIV should have their psychological support provided by competent practitioners.
Standard 7 - coordination of psychological support: PWHIV should have access to appropriate psychological support services that are coordinated within a managed framework.
Standard 8 - evidence-based practice: All psychological assessment and interventions for PWHIV should be based on the best available evidence.
The Standards will set a benchmark for the psychological support provided to adults with HIV in Australia in order to facilitate the best possible mental and physical health outcomes. Once published, the standards will be available at: www.ashm.org.au/Resources
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Standards for Psychological Support for Adults Living with HIV
 Brener L, Callander D, Slavin S, de Wit J. Experiences of HIV stigma: the role of visible symptoms, HIV centrality and community attachment for people living with HIV. AIDS Care. 2013; 25(9):1166-73.
 Murphy DA, de Wit JB, Donohoe S, Adam PC. The need to know: HIV status disclosure expectations and practices among non-HIV-positive gay and bisexual men in Australia. AIDS Care. 2015; 27(sup1): 90-8.
 Bravo P, Edwards A, Rollnick S et al (2010) Tough decisions faced by people living with HIV: a literature review of psychosocial problems. AIDS Rev 12(2):76-88.
 British Psychological Society, British HIV Association & Medical Foundation for AIDS & Sexual Health (2011) Standards for psychological support for adults living with HIV. London: MedFASH.