Sector News

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory; 29 November 2018

As part of the annual World AIDS Day Breakfast at Parliament House in Canberra, ASHM board member and Clinical Nurse Advisor Dr Elizabeth Crock appeared on a panel to discuss the role of nurses in the age of biomedical prevention for HIV.

Dr Crock spoke about the challenges facing Australia’s HIV workforce, including stigma and discrimination within healthcare, and the changing nature of the workforce itself.

“I’ve been working in HIV for a long time, but the workforce with direct experience of the epidemic is ageing,” she said.

“We need to up-skill new generations to ensure advocacy for the needs of people affected by HIV continues within the healthcare system.”

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt used the event as an opportunity to make three announcements relating to HIV: the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approvals of home-testing kits and a two-drug regimen for HIV treatment, and an additional $5 million in funding for implementing the new national strategies for HIV and other BBVs.

ASHM CEO Alexis Apostolellis welcomed the announcements, and spoke to the importance of continued workforce development.

“As the landscape of the epidemic changes rapidly in the era of PrEP and treatment as prevention, we must continue to support our health workforce to keep up with the developments,” he said.

“New technologies by themselves are not a silver bullet, and our dedicated health workforce will continue to work with those most affected by HIV as advocates and partners.”

The breakfast also saw a focus on Australia’s role in the region, with calls by ASHM and others to refocus aid to combat rising rates of HIV in Papua New Guinea.

“Even as we make so much progress in Australia, we must step up our role as a leader in the region,” Apostolellis said.

“ASHM and our partners here in Australia have developed effective programs to address the epidemic, now we need to work harder to get those tools to some of the places where they're most needed.”